Octavia Butler's novel Parable of the Sower begins in the year 2024 (more than three decades in the future when the book was written in the early 1990s). It follows a girl named Lauren Olamina, who is about to turn fifteen. Lauren has a condition called hyperempathy, which makes her extremely sensitive to the feelings of others, whether positive or negative. She is concerned, with good reason, about the increasing levels of violence in her neighborhood (Robledo, a fictional town near Los Angeles), and the country as a whole. She develops a belief system called Earthseed, which aims to preserve the human race and spread it to other planets.
The chaos in Lauren's neighborhood increases. Her father disappears and, months later, her home is destroyed, along with many others nearby. Lauren decides to travel to Northern California, and two of her neighbors, Zahra Moss and Harry Balter, go with her. The three of them travel north across a landscape devastated by fire and poverty. They meet other people who join them on their journey, most significantly a Black man of fifty-seven called Bankole, to whom Lauren is greatly attracted despite the difference in their ages.
Bankole takes the group to his property in Mendocino, on the Northern California coast. However, when they arrive, they find that his house has been destroyed. The group decides to found a new community there, which will be called Acorn, and will be dedicated to the practise of Lauren's Earthseed belief system. They plant acorns to symbolize all the loved ones they have lost and read poems and Bible verses, ending with the Parable of the Sower.
The major characters in the book are Lauren Olamina, the teenage hyperempath and visionary, and Taylor Franklin Bankole, a handsome doctor of fifty-seven, whose appearance reminds Lauren of Frederick Douglass. Other important characters include the Reverend Olamina, Lauren's father, Cory Olamina, her stepmother, and her initial companions, Zahra and Harry. In terms of the political events in the novel, Christopher Donner, who becomes President, is the most significant character. Lauren is opposed to his ideas, particularly his plan to abolish the program of space exploration.