When Parable of the Sower was first published, its image of Robledo as a wealthy gated community living in fear of the have-nots beyond its walls seemed dystopian. The continued development of gated communities since has made its vision of the future more plausible. By contrast, the company town of Olivar, where people are promised food, employment, and a modicum of security in exchange for total submission to their employment, is somewhat more alien to the experience of most readers, but it still has recognizable historical analogs in the company store system of the nineteenth century.
Within Robledo’s illusory security, young Lauren Olamina grows increasingly frustrated with her parents’ refusal to confront the reality of their new world. While they prefer to look backward to a lost time of prosperity, Lauren develops a new religion called Earthseed and writes its sacred text, The Books of the Living. When she attempts to present it to her neighbors, she is at first mocked, but in time she begins to gain their attention, particularly as the walls that protect Robledo from the poverty and desperation outside begin to break down. In the end, Lauren leads a small surviving remnant northward to found a new community, Acorn, on land donated by Bankole, one of the refugees. Even as Acorn represents hope, however, Lauren and her followers recognize the necessity to defend their small community and preserve its ability to grow its own...
(The entire section is 546 words.)