Choose one of Lauren’s poems at the beginning of a section. Construct an argument explaining how it foreshadows the theme, conflict, and/or plot in that section. Again, do not settle for standard dictionary definitions of these literary analysis terms. Move beyond these to dictionaries appropriate for literary analysis. (See Howard Library’s page for specialized dictionaries.) All struggles
Who will rule,
Who will lead,
Who will define,
Who will dominate.
Are essentially power struggles,
Are no more intellectual
Than two rams
Knocking their heads together.
“All struggles / are essentially power struggles.” This is how the ninth chapter of Parable of the Sower begins. The main protagonist, Lauren Olamina, wrote many poems at the beginning of the chapters, but this one stood out to me the most. In the seventeen short lines, this poem can be applied to all of the struggles faced by the different characters in the novel. The fights that Keith and Mr Olamina had were a struggle for male dominance their household. Just like the lines in Lauren’s poem, Keith had the intent of ruling, leading, and defining the Olamina household. Keith’s first try at dominating his household occurred when he ventured outside the walls of their cul-de-sac. After spending almost two weeks outside, which was dangerous and a risky, Keith finally returned back to his home. He thinks he is braver and stronger than his father because he can venture outside the walls alone with nothing but a BB gun and return unharmed. Keith’s immaturity leads him to think that he can care for his family. And unlike his father, he is able to provide expensive things for his family like chocolate with peanuts for his youngest brothers and money for his mother, Cory. Mr.Olamina begins to get very angry with Keith and beats him in the hopes of him never venturing outside of the walls again. Mr. Olamina obviously believes that this beating would serve as a warning to Keith and would keep his family together. This incident is a perfect example for the line within the poem that describes power struggles as “no more intellectual than two rams knocking their heads together.”
The power struggle between Keith and his father is just that. They are stubborn and head headed individuals and they both are dedicated to making things go exactly the way they want them to. Keith is trying to prove that he is worthy of a higher place within the household, while his father is doing everything to prevent that. The ideas of this poem can also be applied to the fiery conversations between Lauren and Harry after their neighborhood was destroyed and demolished. After some time on the outside, Harry started to show uneasiness towards the behavior of Lauren and Zahara. It seemed like Harry wanted to hold on to the mindset he had when he lived in his old neighborhood. He rebukes Lauren for being okay with Zahara’s stealing. Harry feels that he is best suited for leading their group.
However, Lauren is not willing to accept and live by Harry’s rules. She is aware that his same trusting rules are what led to the destruction of their neighborhood. Instead, Lauren is doing her best to make sure her and her team make it north alive, and by any means necessary. While Harry could be compared to a mindless ram from Lauren’s poem, Lauren is just the opposite. Lauren has all the qualities of a leader. Every decision she makes is for the betterment and progression of her group. Harry, on the other hand, rather goes through the motions just like he did behind the walls of the neighborhood. While reading the novel, I noticed that Harry was not at all comfortable with living under the leadership of a woman, abiding by her rules. This was a gender role change compared to the one he lived in while living in Robledo Women were expected to take on a domestic role, one that did not require them to venture outside the walls to work or travel. This was a power struggle between man and woman, their roles, and the leadership position for Lauren and her team. Lauren notices that Harry just doesn’t want to change to adapt to their changing surroundings. Unlike Harry, Lauren is not a static character. This isn’t surprising due to her trust in her own religion, Earthseed. This entire movement is based on change. However, this change and gain of power does not come without its struggles. Lauren Olamina faces the struggles of having hyperempathy and being a black woman in such a powerful position. Throughout the novel, Lauren tries to hide her disability and mask her gender. Lauren decides to keep her gender a secret because she feels that it would be easier to survive in her world living as a man. I also think many of her Earthseed followers wouldn’t have joined her movement if they knew her real gender. However, Lauren’s qualities as a leader and her ability to bring the people from her neighborhood together eventually outweigh any negative feelings that come with being a woman of color. Rather than being a sufferer of her disease, she uses it to her advantage.
Lauren never let any of the other characters use her hyperempathy. She kills any person that stands in the way of her team’s journey to the north. Her disease makes her stronger and helps her understand that any wrong decision could contribute to her death. In conclusion, the power struggles throughout this novel have been evident. Lauren was in a power struggle with herself and her family. Keith was in a power struggle with his father. Many of these problems are still present today. People struggle with diseases that they feel they cannot overcome. People also have problems with their gender. Women have fought for many rights but still are often overlooked in the work force. I commend Lauren for how she deals with the problems that are in the life. She learns to overcome them and use them to her advantage. She becomes a great leader and even forms her own religion. We can all learn from Lauren. We all need to learn to use our problems to better ourselves instead of letting them break us down.