Writing the World Otherwise in Butler’s Parable

This paper examines the utility of writing and reading in Butler’s The Parable of the Sower. In the novel, writing and reading take two related forms: as actual literacy and as a more general means of processing the surrounding world. This second representation informs the format of Parable, a journal in which Lauren Olamina records her impressions and  details of events down to exchanged dialogue. This meticulousness persists, even as Lauren begins the dangerous move north, suggesting that writing serves a survivalist purpose. Regarding Lauren’s journaling alongside her composition of her Earthseed verses, this paper argues that writing and reading serve a utilitarian purpose of imagining the world otherwise. This extends beyond Lauren’s own imaginings and into those of her extra-textual author and readership: in a near-future landscape ravaged by climate change and capitalism, writing and reading at the level of both narrative and the circulation beyond it permit escape and necessary reconstruction.

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