In Parable of Sower by Octavia Butler, how does cognitive estrangement function most significantly challenge norms of power dynamics, such as related to ability/disability, class, culture, economics, gender/sex, politics, race, and the like (choose only one kind of power dynamic)

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Cognitive estrangement is a concept which asserts that if we can witness a new way of living within a work of fiction, we can take that new way and incorporate it into the world we know. Thus, fiction makes it easier to envision a world that is different from the current reality. In Octavia Butler's dystopian novel Parable of the Sower, we see cognitive estrangement used as a way to redefine the rigid gender and race roles present in today's society. Because the main character is a young Black woman, gender and race are both prominent aspects of her life. In a world that is facing economic and environmental decline, Lauren is cursed with "hyper-empathy," meaning that she literally feels whatever someone near her is experiencing. She also lives in constant fear of violence from men. Despite her struggles as she navigates a violent wasteland, she perseveres. Lauren eventually follows her dreams, creating a community as well as her own religion. There are not a lot of representations of young, independent, sensitive yet strong-willed Black women in the literary world. By seeing a fictional realm in which Lauren not only survives, but thrives, we can imagine a world in which the same can be said for Black women in real life.

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