How do you read the ending of the novel?
[To be completed after reading end of novel]
Scholars, in our critical reflection this week, consider the last half of Butler’s novel. Many scholars read
the end of the book as overly optimistic amid rampant chaos; others see the end as a perfect summation
of Lauren’s journey to create her own community, different from her father’s attempt to cling to the past.
How do you read the ending of the novel? Why? Do the hopeless parts of the book outweigh the utopian/
hopeful ending, or vice versa? In this discussion, it may be helpful to take note of Lauren’s character
development, how she changes, and who brings about this change. What role might Bankole, Harry,
Zahra, et al. play in her development?
It might be helpful to consider the following excerpt from a scholarly article on the novel from Jerry
Butler’s portrait of twenty-first-century California combines empiricism with speculation, extant
facts, and facts that are (possibly) in the making. Madhu Dubey writes that “the dystopia presented
in Parable of the Sower is so closely extrapolated from current trends that it produces a shock of
familiarity rather than estrangement” (106). But the future in total is not yet with us and might
still be avoided if we take the requisite actions. As the novel puts it, “We haven’t hit bottom
yet” (Parable 294) in our descent into the abyss. Butler’s perspective on historical time is
authentically prophetic. “The task of the genuine prophet,” notes Martin Buber, “was not to
predict but to confront man with the alternatives of decision” (197). The true prophet does not
foretell an inevitable future, but warns of likely consequences should a present course of action
continue. Butler’s apocalyptic vision of the American future is nothing so much as a weapon for
averting catastrophe… The novel displays both the consequences of our social values and the
meanings of our wishes.
What do you make of Phillips’ words here? Do you agree? If he is correct, what “requisite actions” are
asked for in Parable of the Sower? That is, what does Butler want us to do? What do you make of Phillips’
last line that Butler “displays both the consequences of our social values and the meanings of our wishes?”
With line in mind, consider the connections between Butler’s novel and our current COVID-19 situation.
This explication is less formal than an essay (no intro, paragraphs, or conclusion needed) and asks you to
share your insights and observations on the literature. For this analysis, explore the novel by looking closer
not just at what you see the author doing, but at how they are doing this (i.e., passages and analysis). The
above questions and prompts are guides to lead you to your own observations and critical analysis; you
need not answer each question; rather focus on what you find interesting about the novel and critical
• Typed, standard font & margins
• 1 1/2 – 2 pages, single-spaced
• Uploaded to Blackboard as “Critical Reflection 2” on Friday 4/3, 6pm
• No outside sources required
• Late paper police: you will lose 1/3 of a latter grade each day the paper is late. If you can’t attend
class, you still must get the paper to me that day.
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