Historical Context

Rising rates of illiteracy became a matter of public concern in America in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1989,...

(The entire section is 735 words.)

Literary Style

A dystopia is an unpleasant, sometimes frightening, imaginary future world. Dystopias usually take undesirable aspects...

(The entire section is 345 words.)

Literary Techniques

Like Butler's other novels, Parable of the Sower is written in the first person; this time concertedly because the novel consists...

(The entire section is 214 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

Butler's works feature principally women of nonwhite races as protagonists, mostly African American. She has in her stones followed the...

(The entire section is 378 words.)

Social Concerns

Parable of the Sower predicts the rise of an age of terrorism in America, a terrorism that engulfs the peaceful, traditionally secure...

(The entire section is 346 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

Johnson, Rebecca O., “African-American, Feminist Science Fiction,” in Sojourner: The Women’s Forum, Vol. 19, No. 6, February 1994, pp. 12–14.

Jonas, Gerald, Review of Parable of the Sower, in New York Times Book Review, January 2, 1994, p. 22.

Miller, Faren, Review of Parable of the Sower, in Locus, December 1993, pp. 17, 19.

See, Lisa, “An Interview with Octavia Butler,” in Publishers Weekly, Vol. 240, No. 50, December 13, 1993, pp. 50–51.

Zaki, Hoda, Review of Parable of the Sower, in Women’s Review of Books, Vol. 11, Nos. 10 and 11, July 1994, pp. 37–38.


(The entire section is 206 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Allison, Dorothy. “The Future of Female: Octavia Butler’s Mother Lode.” In Reading Black, Reading Feminist, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Meridian, 1990.

Fry, Joan. “ Interview with Octavia Butler.” In Poets and Writers Magazine 25, no. 2 (March/April, 1997): 58-69.

Govan, Sandra Y. “Octavia Butler” in Notable Black American Women. Detroit: Gale, 1992.

Potts, Steven W. “We Keep Playing the Same Record: A Conversation with Octavia E. Butler.” Science Fiction Studies 23 (November, 1996): 331-338.


(The entire section is 106 words.)

Topics for Further Study

Research the history of illiteracy in the United States. What can be done to tackle illiteracy in the United States? How have educational...

(The entire section is 299 words.)

Literary Precedents

Novelists of major reputation have written stories of the future as proliferating wasteland. Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence (1948) is...

(The entire section is 137 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

Parable of the Talents (1998) is Butler’s sequel to Parable of the Sower. The Earthseed community that Lauren founded is...

(The entire section is 244 words.)