Literature Study GuidesParable Of The Sower

Parable of the Sower | Study Guide

Octavia Butler

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Course Hero. "Parable of the Sower Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Feb. 2019. Web. 6 July 2020. <>.

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In text

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Course Hero. "Parable of the Sower Study Guide." February 7, 2019. Accessed July 6, 2020.


Course Hero, "Parable of the Sower Study Guide," February 7, 2019, accessed July 6, 2020,



Octavia Butler

Year Published





Dystopian, Science Fiction

Perspective and Narrator

Parable of the Sower, set in the 2020s, is told in a series of dated first-person journal entries by the novel's main character, Lauren Olamina. The journal entries are interspersed with verses from the text Lauren has created, Earthseed: The Books of the Living. Some of the entries are written after the fact and listed as having been "expanded from notes taken on" the actual date. In addition to recording events, Lauren also ponders their meaning and speculates about her future. Because Lauren can only write about things she sees and only chooses to write about things she believes are important, the novel is intensely tied to her perspective.


Lauren's journal entries are in the past tense when dealing with events she has experienced, present tense when recording her thoughts, and future tense when talking about her plans.

About the Title

Parable of the Sower is an allusion to a story attributed to Jesus Christ in the synoptic gospels of the Christian Bible (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In the parable a sower scatters seeds indiscriminately. Some fall by the roadside and do not grow. Some fall among thorns and are choked out. Some fall on fertile ground and bear grain one hundredfold. Jesus explains to his disciples that the grain represents messages about the kingdom of heaven and that the different soils represent the minds of those who listen. For some listeners, the message will not leave a lasting impression. Some listeners will be distracted by worldly concerns. Other listeners, however, will spread the message.

Throughout the novel Lauren Olamina is creating her own religion, Earthseed, and seeking converts. Though the name Earthseed is not a direct reference to the parable, it resonates with it both as an idea that may take root in people's minds and as a seed that may be scattered beyond Earth to distant worlds.


This study guide for Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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