Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

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

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 345 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.

Further Reading
Butler, Octavia, and Stephen W. Potts, “‘We Keep Playing the Same Record’: A Conversation with Octavia E. Butler,” in Science-Fiction Studies, Vol. 23, No. 70, November 1996, pp. 331–38. Butler discusses the science-fiction genre, responses to her work, and themes her work addresses. Fry, Joan, “An Interview with Octavia Butler,” in Poets & Writers Magazine, Vol. 25, March/April 1997, pp. 58–69. Butler discusses a range of topics, including her favorite writers and where the philosophical ideas in Parable of the Sower come from.

Wiloch, Thomas, Review of Parable of the Sower, in Bloomsbury Review, May/June 1994, p. 24. Wiloch applauds Butler for not following the pattern of most science fiction. She is not content to tell a standard adventure story but instead turns it into a character study of a young woman.


(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.

Stevenson, Rosemary. “Octavia Butler” in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson, 1993.

Zaki, Hoda. “Utopia, Dystopia, and Ideology in the Science Fiction of Octavia Butler.” Science Fiction Studies 17, no. 2 (1990): 239-251.

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

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

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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?

(Novels for Students)

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.)