Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower is a science fiction novel which follows the journey of Lauren Olamina, a young "hyperempath" who is determined to spread her religion, Earthseed, despite the anarchy that has been unleashed across the apocalyptic, impoverished landscape of the United States.
Cory is Lauren's stepmother and a woman with a doctorate degree who chooses to spend her time teaching the children in the crumbling neighborhood. It is these qualities—the valuing of knowledge and the ability to question established beliefs—that make Cory such an effective role model for Lauren. Lauren comments that she doesn't care about instructing the neighborhood children, but it's the practice of helping others that later becomes formative in Lauren's religious and philosophical beliefs.
Cory also endures many personal losses—including the repeated disappearances of her son, Keith, and his eventual murder by a gang of drug addicts—that in some ways serve as an example of handling hardship. Able to perceive the danger in the community around them, Cory tries to persuade Lauren's father to move the family to Olivar. They argue about this frequently, and her ability to push back teaches Lauren the value of a woman's voice in conversations.
Cory may sometimes be overly reactive to death; Lauren comments on this, stating, "She jumps on me for sharing pain with the living, but she tries to share it with the dead." This may irritate Lauren, but it is also instructive in showing her a different side of empathy.