Reflections: Butler’s Parables


I’d read Fledgling first after receiving it as a gift from the in-laws and wanted to find out more about Butler’s general approach to constructing her worlds and her characters.  Here’s what I found.

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Sower: I don’t know that I’d call this “a hopeful tale.” Sheesh. [This was in response to a review of the book posted just before mine.  I’m not usually that spicy, but, well, sheesh!] Anyway, I’m still trying to figure out Butler. I don’t get her politics; I mean, at times, I read her as a gun-totin’ libertarian…I don’t know! I definitely ripped through this, but I wasn’t exactly inspired by her vision?

Talents: I don’t like how Earthseed depends on being wealthy and well-armed to succeed. That aside, the relationship between Olamina and her daughter was what made this a worthwhile read for me. I like the way the book explores the complexity of human perception, how our circumstances shape us (if we don’t shape them)…now that I think about it a little more, I guess Asha was sort of an example of what happens in the absence of Earthseed, since she was unable to love her mother or even like her due to her own submission to change, to how the world had shaped her. It frustrated me that they weren’t able to love each other in the end, and that made me like the book more.

I should end (I’m writing this now, not, you know, earlier, when I wrote the above) by saying that I know part of why I don’t connect with Butler is that I’m reading from a place of extreme privilege; the limitations of my perspective here I think really impair my ability to connect with some of the experiences and concepts she tackles.  I’m working on it, but it’s still there.


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