Choose one of Lauren’s poems at the beginning of a section and analyze how it hints at the theme, conflict, and/or plot in that section. Avoid using regular dictionary definitions and refer to specialized dictionaries for literary analysis available at Howard Library. (See Howard Library’s page for specialized dictionaries.) All struggles
Essentially, power struggles determine who will rule, lead, define, refine, confine, and design. They ultimately aim to establish dominance. All struggles are essentially power struggles and, in most cases, lack intellectual depth – much like two rams butting heads.
The ninth chapter of Parable of the Sower starts with the statement, “All struggles / are essentially power struggles.” This particular poem, written by the main protagonist, Lauren Olamina, resonated with me the most. In just seventeen lines, it encapsulates the various struggles experienced by the different characters in the novel.
One such struggle revolves around Keith and Mr. Olamina’s battle for dominance within their household. This mirrors the themes expressed in Lauren’s poem, as Keith strives to rule, lead, and define the Olamina family. Keith’s initial attempt at asserting his authority occurred when he ventured outside the protective walls of their cul-de-sac, despite the inherent dangers and risks.
After nearly two weeks outside, Keith eventually returned home unharmed, believing himself to be braver and stronger than his father. He falsely assumes that he can take care of his family better than his father, even providing luxuries like chocolate with peanuts for his younger brothers and money for his mother, Cory.
Mr. Olamina’s anger towards Keith intensifies, leading him to discipline his son through physical beatings in an effort to prevent any future ventures outside the walls. Mr. Olamina believes that this punishment will serve as a warning to Keith and ensure the unity of their family.The incident perfectly exemplifies the line from the poem which compares power struggles to two rams butting heads – an intellectual endeavor.
Keith and his father are locked in a battle of wills, both refusing to back down and determined to have things their own way. Keith is striving to prove his worthiness for a higher position within the household, while his father works against him. These dynamics can also be seen in the intense debates between Lauren and Harry following the destruction of their neighborhood. After spending time outdoors, Harry became uneasy about Lauren and Zahara’s actions. It seemed that Harry still held onto his old neighborhood mentality and criticized Lauren for accepting Zahara’s thievery. Harry believes he is the most suitable leader for their group.
However, Lauren is unwilling to accept and live by Harry’s rules. She understands that his same trusting rules led to the destruction of their neighborhood. Instead, Lauren is determined to ensure her team’s survival and will do whatever it takes to make it north. While Harry could be compared to a mindless ram from Lauren’s poem, Lauren possesses all the qualities of a leader. Every decision she makes is for the betterment and progress of her group. Conversely, Harry merely goes through the motions, much like he did behind the neighborhood walls. While reading the novel, I noticed that Harry was uncomfortable living under a woman’s leadership and abiding by her rules – a gender role change from his previous experience in Robledo, where women were expected to remain domestic. This created a power struggle between man and woman, their roles, and Lauren’s leadership. Lauren recognizes that Harry resists changing to adapt to their evolving environment. In contrast, Lauren is not a static character, which is not surprising given her trust in her religion, Earthseed. This movement is rooted in change. However, this change and acquisition of power come with struggles for Lauren Olamina – struggles manifesting through her hyperempathy and being a black woman in such a influential position.In the novel, Lauren attempts to conceal her disability while also concealing her gender. She believes that it would be simpler to navigate her world by presenting herself as a man. Similarly, I believe that several of her Earthseed followers might not have joined her cause if they knew her true gender. Nonetheless, her skills as a leader and her talent for unifying her community ultimately overshadow any adverse sentiments associated with being a woman of color. Instead of being burdened by her condition, she transforms it into an advantage.
The text highlights the character of Lauren and how she uses her hyperempathy to her advantage. She eliminates anyone who obstructs her team’s journey northwards, knowing that any wrong decision could lead to her death. The novel portrays power struggles, with Lauren engaged in a struggle for power within herself and her family, while Keith faces a power struggle with his father. These issues are still relevant in today’s society, where individuals face seemingly insurmountable illnesses and gender problems persist. Despite women fighting for rights, they are often disregarded in the workplace. Personally, I admire Lauren for facing life’s challenges head-on and learning to overcome them by turning them into opportunities. She emerges as an exceptional leader and even establishes her own religion. We can all find inspiration from Lauren’s example of using our problems to our advantage instead of letting them discourage us.