Parable of the Sower Reading Notes

Updated March 25, 2021

Pages 1 - 27

  • Lauren mostly follows what others set out for her.
    • She allows herself to be baptized in the name of a religion that she doesn't believe in.

Pages 28 - 60

  • Problems like fire rampage from within the walled neighborhood, too (32).
    • The people are entirely self-reliant — firefighters would cost too much.
  • Lauren shows an incredible empathy in taking in Amy and teaching her the alphabet and how to write her name (33).
  • People have lost their faith in the police for protecting them (39).
  • Kids who attend school at Lauren's house get gun training (39).
  • "You should have killed it... What do you want to do? Wait until jumps someone" (41). The mentality is very much to assume the worst up front.
  • Lauren kills the dog despite her hyperempathy, which is a big change for her (45).
    • Page 46: Maybe some sort of transformation? Lauren realizes that she can kill something and, although she feels it, she comes out on the other side alive.
  • Due to climate change, they don't believe that there'll be a big storm (47).
    • People are glad to have the storm and collect the water (48).
  • Lauren goes into the rain even though her stepmother Cory doesn't want her to (48).
  • Amy Dunn (neglected three-year-old) dies (49).
    • She was shot by someone through the walled neighborhood's gate, indiscriminately since you can't see through the gate.
    • Maybe someone fired at it just because people inside the neighborhood are better off.
  • "The miserable will be made even more miserable" (51).
  • "The reports say that [the drug] makes watching a fire better than sex. I don't know whether the reporters are condemning it or advertising it" (54).
  • "My mother is hoping this new guy, President Donner, will start to get us back to normal" (54).
    • People ignore the way they got to this spot, and instead yearn for the past.
    • ... sounds like Covid.
  • "Why do you want to talk about this stuff... we can't do anything about it." "We have to" (55).
  • "Get focused on arranging to survive so that we can do more than just get batted around by crazy people, desperate people, thugs, and leaders who don't know what they're doing!" (55).

Pages 61 - 99

  • Lauren realizes that everyone else is in denial about what's happening, and doesn't walk to talk about it (61).
    • Lauren's trust in others is broken (62).
  • "that's like... ignoring a fire in the living room because we're all in the kitchen, and, besides, house fires are too scary to talk about" (63).
  • People eat acorn bread now instead of our current-day grains because it's cheaper (64).
  • "That's not up to you, Lauren. You don't make decisions for this community" (64).
  • Lauren makes sure to cut out the religious part of her thoughts from her father, still hiding the full extent of what she thinks (65).
  • "It's better to teach people than to scare them, Lauren. If you scare them and nothing happens, they lose their fear, and you lose some of your authority with them" (65).
  • Lauren's dad lays the groundwork for her teaching young kids (66).
  • Lauren's dad trusts her enough to show her the important supplies sealed away in the backyard (67).
  • Lauren decides that Joanne isn't her friend anymore after Joanne betrays her trust (68).
  • The police aren't an option to protect the neighborhood if thieves show up, because they're too expensive and slow (71).
  • "Baby, we can't live by pretending this is still twenty or thirty years ago" (71).
  • The thieves have made everybody spring into action, in a way that Lauren's warnings could not (72).
  • The thieves show that the neighborhood wall can be breached, as Lauren warned about (74).
  • "'We do live this way,' Dad said... There was nothing. Weariness. Sadness. I've never heard him sound so tired, so... almost beaten" (75).
  • "We look out for each other" - Lauren's dad (76).
    • "This is no world to be alone in" (76).
  • "I don't know whether good times are coming back again" - Lauren's dad (76).
  • "someday when people are able to pay more attention to what I say that to how old I am, I'll use these verses to pry them loose from the rotting past, and maybe push them into saving themselves and building a future that makes sense" (79).
  • "A tree / Cannot grow / In its parents' shadows" (82).
  • News about space seems to be the only uplifting thing happening (83).
  • "The Destiny of Earthseed / Is to take root among the stars" (84).
  • "everyone's cooking and getting ready for a party as though these were the good old days" - after news that Bianca Montoya is pregnant and getting married to Jorge Iturbe (87).
  • Keith, Lauren's 13-year-old brother, left the neighborhood and got jumped. His key to the neighborhood got stolen by five guys (91).
  • Lauren is very empathetic and takes over teaching classes when Cory is anxious about Keith's whereabouts (95, 96).
  • Keith comes back with brand new clothes and shoes, but won't tell how he got them or where he went outside of the neighborhood, so dad beats him bloody (97).
  • Keith sees himself as taking on a breadwinner role for the family, and above all his mother (98).

Pages 100 - 125

  • Keith is valuable to his new friends because he's educated, he can read and write (105).
  • Lauren can't believe that Keith shot the man going to Alaska after the man was nice to Keith (109).
  • Keith dies, and Lauren still grieves immensely (112).
  • Cops come later and then make the situation worse (114).
  • Lauren things that the world would be better if more people had hyperempathy (115).
  • When Dad beat Keith: "That was the end of something precious in the family" (115).
  • "Robledo's too big, too poor, too black, and too Hispanic to be of interest to anyone" (120).
  • The neighborhood isn't coming apart all at once, it's coming apart bit by bit (123).

Pages 126 - 149

  • Lauren experiences change in her own life too: "Everyone would still be here, frozen in time just as I left them. But no, that's fantasy. God is Change" (126).
  • "[Joanne] wants a future she can understand and depend on — a future that looks a lot like her parents' present. I don't think that's possible. Things are changing too much, too fast. Who can fight God?" (128).
  • "At last, we came home and wrapped our community wall around us and huddled in our illusions of security" (133).
  • Lauren thinks that her dad's death is also the death of the community: "That was Dad's funeral that I was preaching — his and the community's... We'll be moved, all right. It's just a matter of when, by whom, and in how many pieces" (136).
  • "The two movers were a black and a white, and I could see that Cory considered that hopeful. Maybe Olivar wouldn't be the white enclave that Dad had expected" (139).
  • "The people I've grown up with are falling out of my life, one by one" (139).
  • "People are setting fires because they're frustrated, angry, hopeless" (143).
  • "We'll adapt. We'll have to. God is Change. Strange how much it helps me to remember that" (147).
  • "This is how we will survive and hold together. It will work. I don't know how long it will last, but for now, it will work" (148).
  • "So today Wyatt Talcott, Michael, and Curtis escorted [Wardell Parrish, whose family died in the fire + robbery] home. Poor man. He's years older than he was a week ago. I think he may not live much longer" (149).

Pages 150 - 178

  • "I fell with her, caught up in her death. I lay there, dazed, struggling to move, to get up... I got up, felt for my pack, found it, and ran. I tried not to see what was happening around me. Hearing the gunfire and the screams didn't stop me. A dead body—Edwin Dunn—didn't stop me. I bent, snatched up his gun, and kept running" (154).
    • We see the first signs of Lauren needing to conquer or push aside her hyperempathy in order to keep going and survive.
  • "I am one of the street poor, now. Not as poor as some, but homeless, alone, full of books and ignorant of reality. Unless I meet someone from the neighborhood, there's no one I can afford to trust. No one to back me up" (156).
    • For the first time, Lauren is completely alone in the world. Before, she had her father to anchor her, and then at least she had Cory and her brothers.
  • "God is Change. I hate God" (158).
    • Lauren hasn't acknowledged before that, although change is inevitable and can lead to good things, you don't necessarily always want the change to happen.
  • "So, in company with five strangers, I plundered my family's home" (160)
    • This signals a significant transition for Lauren from safety and security to being vulnerable to the outside world.
  • "But keep your eyes open. You get too wrapped up in your own thinking, and you'll miss things. People get killed on freeways all the time" (178).
    • With her past experience living on the street, Zahra is a bit of a mentor / mother figure.
    • Lauren is out of her depth now, living on the streets. It isn't like anything she's done before.

Pages 179 - 213

  • "Harry and I have been well-fed and protected all our lives. We're strong and healthy and better educated than most people our age. But we're stupid out here" (181).
    • Needing to survive in the outside world has completely flipped what things are important useful. It's like major extinction events: something happens that dramatically changes the rules of the game, and different skills are required to survive and flourish.
  • "I wanted to know that I could do that—handle a dead animal, skin it, butcher it, treat its hide to make leather. I wanted to know how to do it, and that I could do it without getting sick" (186).
    • Lauren has been thinking of life outside the neighborhood for a long time. She's had this foresight for a while, but when it happened, she still wasn't really prepared for the reality of it.
  • "'Give me the gun and go back to sleep', I said. He just sat there. 'Harry, you'll get us killed. Give me the gun and the watch and lie down. I'll wake you later'" (200).
    • Even though Lauren has no experience being out in the world, she still assumes a role as a strict leader, and feels responsible for making sure they all survive.

Pages 214 - 244

  • "Paying to wash clothes was a luxury we could not often afford... bought a second clip for the gun—plus solvent, oil, and brushes to clean the gun" (216).
    • This is an interesting peek into Lauren's, and probably most people's, way of thinking in this situation. Outside, everything comes second to survival.
  • "I hope [no one will worship changes]. Earthseed deals with ongoing reality, not the supernatural authority figures. Worship is no good without action. With action, it's only useful if it steadies you, focuses your efforts, eases your mind" (219).
    • It seems that a lot of the motivation behind Earthseed has been born out of Lauren realizing she will one day need to leave her neighborhood.
  • "I put aside my usual suspicions and went to see whether the old man was all right" (226).
    • Again, we see that Lauren is kinder and more willing to help people out when their situation tugs on her heart strings. However, this could also become a weakness or prove to be a mistake later.
  • "Harry walked ahead of us, gun in hand. Something about him said with great clarity that he would kill. If he were pushed even a little, he would kill" (233).
    • Harry has changed a lot from when he was surprised by Lauren's killing a man attacking them to now.

Pages 245 - 269

  • "I left Harry to push the dead woman's pack along in her baby carriage and Bankole to carry the whimpering child" (252).
    • They aren't exactly gathering the most nimble or strong crew here. They've assembled people who are somewhat weak, old, and now a second baby to care for.
  • "I kissed [Bankole], wondering what it would feel like to kiss so much beard" (253).
    • ew
  • "The earthquake had done a lot of damage in Hollister, but the people hadn't gone animal. They seemed to be helping one another with repairs and looking after their own destitute. Imagine that" (257).
    • Not everyone seems to have adopted this "every person for themselves" mentality that seems to have swept the country.
  • "Human beings are good at creating hells for themselves even out of richness" (262).
    • That's kind of what they've done to this world — they've turned something that used to be great into a hell, with greed and selfishness.
  • "After that, Allie began to ask questions instead of making scornful proclamations, and for the most part, the others answered her" (269).
    • Lauren is already doing a good job spreading Earthseed to other people, or at least having them absorb and internalize it a bit.

Pages 270 - 293

  • "We rounded a bend in a dry stream bed, and there these kids were, roasting a severed human leg, maneuvering it where it lay in the middle of the fire atop the burning wood by twisting its foot" (271).
    • Fits into the theme of how far people will go for survival. These kids, although still so young, have discovered that the only way to stay alive is to be cannibals. There isn't another option if you want to stay alive.
  • "He said he wanted me to leave the group with him" (272).
    • Bankole trying to get Lauren to go with him alone immediately triggered my suspicions. It's interesting that for Lauren, as smart and observant as she is, did not have the same feeling. She's starting to trust Bankole, too much maybe. Is their relationship real?
  • "It's all right if you don't believe, but don't laugh. Do you know what it means to have something to believe in? Don't laugh" (275).
    • I recognize this feeling, the feeling that someone else is brushing you off as if it were nothing. Is this pent-up resentment that Lauren's feeling towards others, maybe Bankole in particular, from all the times that brush off Earthseed?
  • "okay. So... do you still want to marry me?" (278).
    • Lauren is very into the idea of marrying Bankole, which seems a bit perplexing. There seems to be a part of their relationship, of their trust and connecting deepening, that we didn't see.
  • "But for the little kid's sake, I wanted to help them at least with a meal" (282).
    • Children seem to spark Lauren's inclination to help people and trust them even without really knowing them. It's both admirable and foolish.
  • "I suppose the politicians may have passed a law that could be used to support debt slavery" (292).
    • People have fallen out of touch with what their own society is doing, outside of their small bubble.

Pages 294 - 314

  • "At least I held on long enough to do some good" (298).
    • Lauren has shown time and time again that she's the leader of this group. However, she doesn't really have a compelling survival reason to lead. She's crippled by her hyperempathy, and yet people have coalesced around her.
  • "They hate everyone who isn't them" (304).
    • It's interesting that the drug addicts have formed a community based purely on the fact that they abuse pyro. Humans do form communities around the strangest things.
  • "If I moaned and groaned, I'd have all four of them moaning and groaning. The kids might even bleed along with me. I would have to be careful and keep lying at least as long as the fire was a threat—or as long as I could" (307).
    • Again, the group they've assembling isn't quite the strongest... it's now revealed that a whole part of the group might be wiped out if they have to defend themselves with violence against anybody else.

Pages 314 - end

  • "Of course, it didn't help that he was black. Being white might help you win people over faster than he did" (320).
    • Although it isn't mentioned all that much, we still see that race plays a substantial role in society here. People's trust with each other and access to opportunities is still hindered or helped by the color of their skin.
  • "I want to build something, too. I never had a chance to build anything before" (322).
    • I don't think that Allie is speaking literally here — she wants to build a new life, something she's never had the opportunity to before. Despite the horrible circumstances, Lauren is giving the others a chance to build what they never had; start fresh.
  • "It seems almost criminal that you should be so young in these terrible times" (327).
    • This makes me realize that Bankole and Lauren have very different motivations in these times. For Bankole, who is older, much of his life is behind him. For Lauren, she is in the process of building what will become her life. Maybe Lauren needs the optimism that she has to stay alive, whereas Bankole can afford not to be optimistic.