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Evolving Systems course, week 8: a parable of change?

Anne Dalke's picture

As always, you're free to write about whatever came into your mind in class this week.  But if you need something to get you started: How does Octavia Butler's novel Parable of the Sower extend our understanding of evolutionary change (and continuity) in cultures, and in individuals?

Serendip Visitor's picture


I've been thinking about our class discussion and about this idea of people being driven by a hierarchy of needs and physical survival being the most basic one. But then I got to thinking about martyrs. Here are people that know that they will die for what they believe in. That belief can be a religious one, or a principle. And there are also suicides. People who think that their life, for whatever reason, is no longer worth living. These two groups, at least, validate the notion that it is possible to place greater value on things other than your life and to die for them.

As for the "correctness," "goodness," and "righteousness" of any of these values, I can't say. Is Keith more "evil" than Lauren? Is Lauren "good." Which is better, to steal/kill in the name of survival/better lifestyle and helping one's family, or to steal/kill in the name of survival and helping one's new community? Perhaps the big difference is that Keith stole/killed preemptively, before the initial community was destroyed? I'm not sure. Lauren is more appealing to me because, whatever her actions, her impetus seemed to be gradually, more and more based on helping others as well as herself, instead of just herself. But then, what makes that so appealing? I know in this culture, we place a value of "goodness" on selflessness, and I understand the theory that if we all focus on helping each other, we're helping ourselves, but that notion seems so distant and candy-coated in a situation such as Lauren's.

I mentioned to Paul, how this whole notion of co-operation instead of competition reminds me of the situation we find ourselves in regarding nuclear weapons. Idealistically, every country that possesses them will dismantle every single one and nuclear arsenal would be internationally eradicated. But who goes first? And how can we trust everybody to do it?

This makes me think of the Honor Code at school. There is a system of trust in play, that we will be academically and socially honest with one another. And I've been amazed at people's general honesty at this school. But the dorms still have locks on them. There's a limit.

Julie G.'s picture

Sorry folks

 That last one was my comment -- I forgot to sign in.

paige's picture


By the end of the last class, we spent some time talking about Butler’s prose. Last night while having a conversation about narwhals (and how if narwhals ran the world, everything would be much more peaceful) in the hallway, Meredith and I somehow managed to start talking about Parable of the Sower. It was then I realized that though the book has somewhat of a doomsday warning feel to it (society is on a slippery slope to nowhere, better make changes now or perish!), I was never really that frightened when reading it. I am not sure whether it is the fact that the book is set only fourteen years from now so it seems almost likely to happen (or not likely at all? – I cannot decide),  or that after the fifth rape and third cannabilistic event I was desensitized.That would be an issue with Butler’s style with me. However, it may not be that. We might all be desensitized to the violence in Parable of the Sower because we see so much everyday on the news and in smaller, subtler ways on our own streets (Anne mentioned the homeless people she frequently sees on her way to work). The hidden and outright violence behind all of these occurrences has changed our reactions to fictional violence (and everyday strife). Maybe this is part of the slippery slope Butler is warning us about?

 ps i know of an interesting study that links the existence of evidence of violence on streets (broken glass, etc) to more violence.

Valentina's picture

Urgh, we're doomed.

Last night, I tried to write a post but came up blank on what I wanted to say. So, I decided to follow my usual routine of doing my homework in the earlier hours of the morning. Bad idea. Parable of the Sower haunted my dreams, and how could it not? That book was probably the most frightening book I have ever read, and not just for its gruesome detail but also for the future it presents us.

Though I would like to concentrate on the ideas Octavia Butler brought to the table, I find it hard to focus on the themes when I have the content pushing itself into my mind. We have spent the first quarter of the semester readily talking about cultural and biological evolution, and embracing, essentially, “The only lasting truth is change…”. But I don’t want to change any more. I know Parable of the Sower is fiction, but, as Prof Grobstein pointed out, how far from our truth is it really? Not enough for comfort. I don’t want to live in a world characterized by poverty, rape, guns, drugs, and death. But don’t we already? Are we just in our own Olivar waiting for the outside to come break our gate?

Which reminds me, when my mother and I drove up and saw Bryn Mawr for the first time on move-in day, the first thing she said is “Where’s the gate? Is the campus just open like this?” Hmmm. I wonder if she noticed this because we have always lived in a gated community or because she really thought a school in a place like Bryn Mawr could need a gate.

So, as for our future, I don’t want to think about it anymore. I’m just going to keep on telling myself the only changes we have coming are the iPhone 5, flying cars, and maybe 2012. I’d take that apocalypse to gradual doom any day.

kbonds's picture

 Ha, people aren't born good

 Ha, people aren't born good or evil, they're born neutral. It is not until they are presented with options, acted upon, and interacted with do they develop a "good" or a "bad". Sure, if the child has a genetic tendency for violence (was that even proven?) or alcoholism (definitely proven), or if the mother does drugs whilst pregnant, they are have already been pushed in one direction before birth, but that makes me think about how good and bad are all relative. Anyway, I firmly believe that humans are intrinsically neutral, but lazy, and by lazy I mean they take the path of least resistance (which might not be considered "lazy"). Most will take the easiest path to survive. Key word: survive. If that means stealing your food instead of working for it, so be it. Stealing is generally considered "bad". There are about 1000 examples of how doing something "bad" is easier than doing something "good", and that is why we see "bad" so often in the world. Humans = lazy, bad = easy, humans = bad. It's not our fault, oh wait, it is. Is it? But all we want to do is survive! this is what is called a "moral dilemma". 

"I could not take the cookie becuase mommy told me not to but being hungry for cookies is sooo hard *takes cookie*"

"I could not borrow my friends homework becuase cheating is bad but I couldn't possibly stay up past 3 AM again. *cheats*"

"I could not steal this mans money but I have to buy drugs or I'm going to feel terrible *steals*"

"I could not steal this mans money but I need to provide for my family *steals*"

The last example is where the dilemma part comes in, and it is something we see in Parable. I think this would be an interesting thing to talk, most likely argue about, in class, because everyone has a different morals+survival+laziness line. For some people, it never changes ,and for some, it changes all the time, and that is something we see in Parable as well.

Summer's picture

Born Evil?

     We have talked a lot about this question-wether people are born good or evil. It seems that many of us believe people are born evil. However I still trust the idea of people being good in their nature.

    When we were discussing the instinct of being "selfish", we defined it evil. Yet is that really evil? I doubt it. We are born "selfish" because of the natural urge of surviving. I can't find a reason to deny the right to survive of a being, any being. I imagined a scenario after class, which is I'm in the desert with a stranger. I find some water, approximately just enough for me to survive until the rescue arrives. I think I would be willing to fight to protect the water-in this case the only thing to make sure that I survive-even if I have to kill the stranger in the fight. I know it sounds scary. OK, now let's think about another situation. You are in a desert with your parent, or child, or a loved one. You find some water and it's enough for one person to survive until the rescue arrives. What would you do? I bet you won't fight and kill your loved ones.

    Yes! That's something that is inside you! You know deep in your soul, that you need to care for your family. That's why animal moms would breed their babies instead of abandon them or eat them. Moreover, as people grow, they learn about not only caring for their loved ones, but also somebody else, friends, neighbors, strangers in difficult situations, etc. On the other hand, some people grow to harm others. They do bad things on purpose to gain twisted joy from the harms they caused. That doesn't mean that they are who they are, perverts, when they were born.


Kirsten's picture

just some pondering...


I have been doing a lot of thinking about what evil could be, or how it can be defined.  I have come to the conclusion that I think that evil is most definitely a cultural creation that varies due culture.  What can be labeled at “evil” or “devious” in one culture may be normal for another.  For example certain groups of people practice cannibalism. In the Untied Stated that is punishable my law and is considered by many people to be wrong.



bluebox's picture

My thoughts from class...yeah.

"Just because everything's changing doesn't mean it's never been this way before." That's from the song The Call by Regina Spektor, and it was going through my head for most of thursday's class. It's not completely applicable to the ecclesiastes quote and the earthseed quote, but it made me think of the idea that we start out with all of the same things--like there are certain amounts of each element on earth, they just change and form different compounds over time so it looks like everything is changing but really it's all made of the same stuff. Maybe the water cycle would be an easier metaphor. But still, same idea.

Predicting what comes next in the Parable of  the Sower story...well, since Paul told me Lauren has a kid, and the story is told from her point of view i'll go with that...but i'll estimate that the second book happens 10-15 years later, when the worst has passed and they're working on rebuilding the country. I don't think that even more chaos would fill another book while also having a plot and a theme. So basically, i feel like the Parable of the Sower is the part where it was dark before it gets lighter, and the next part of the story is the better part.

"Naked I was born, and I am naked now, and I'll die naked. I haven't gained or lost a thing." -Sancho Panza, from Don Quixote

schu's picture

Change, Fortune, Individual Power.

Well, I really don't know if we are born evil or good.  The first reason, if following in logic sense, of human reaction should be need for survival. The reason may also be the goal, which is success to live longer and better. In that sense, we are born more like good. But if you say that we are born with good nature and evil nature, that makes more sense as a comprehensive answer to all human beings' nature. After all, there are many people, if given sufficient food and comfort, would like to help others and some would see others' pain as fun.

About change, I have a link for an advertisment of US campain.

Despite the politcal intention inside or outside of US, this advertisment talks about the result of change and the use of warning.

Change itself occurs every moment, and with a series of reasons (that we can find), certain results turn out. And people would like to predict the result, because they want to control the direction of everything and don't want these things to trigger bad results. And people want to make such prediction to warn us now, that what we should do and what we shouldn't do.

But there is always another explaination for the cause and effect: Predestination. It said that no matter how you want to change the process or details in the big system, you can't change the result and the fate is designed at the first place. It sounds disappointing, but also relieving. We don't have trials to prove these assumptions. In a lot of books of time travelling, some of the writers also express this idea, that even you can change the said-to-be key factors of one event, you still can't turn the wheel of fortune.

Another thing about the Parable of the Sower, is the historical heroism.(I don't know if it is the right word for it.) It states that the history is always changed, or the important events are always decided by the heroes, not the people or everyone in the society. In this book however, it shows a power of individual which might be able to change the history. Lauren is a normal girl. She is not the president of Unite States, and she is not Jesus who have the power from God. If she is able to assemble people and create a great change in this world, it might show that a single person can have the ability to change the world, or affect the wheel of fortune. How does that sound....


LAJW's picture

Some Thoughts


Last week's discussion about the book Parable of the Sower was insightful. While reading this book during the fall break, I just did not like it. The background described by the author was really gloomy. I am a very optimistic person and always resist to get to know the darker side of the society. I think if the world going to be like what is described in the book which American civilization degenerates quickly, crime is rampant, food is scarce, and inflation is out of control, I will just commit suicide to escape from this painful world. I knows it sounds a little bit extreme, but I don't think I would survive in that kind of environment..

Even though I don't like the content of the book, I really think the author is a talented writer, since she is able to portray the main character so well that the book gives me a wonderful sense of realism. Now I am going to answer some of the questions raised in the discussion.

I think there are always changes in culture over time which are caused by constant changes in both environment and individuals. Individuals play a very important role in changing culture, since ultimately culture is created by us human beings. Hence, the change in individuals will definitely cause the change in the shared conventions, ideas and concepts and, thus, the changes in culture. I think the change in the environment could not directly contribute to the cultural change, since it would only affect the certain behavioral patterns of human beings.

I think that it is really difficult to predict the future since we do not really know what would happen in the future. As global warming has become a serious problem, there are always unpredictable climate changes happening nowadays. I think the constant climate changes and natural disasters would change our behaviors and beliefs gradually. Hence, I think that culture would definitely change in the future, but we would never know how it changes and what it changes to.


Aimee's picture

Meditations on Good and Evil

 So, last Thursday we discussed human nature, and attempted to categorize people as either good or evil. It pains me to say it, but we cannot classify people so simply. Humans are overwhelmingly a shade of grey, to which the black and white of good and evil do not and cannot apply. We defined evil as the willful desire to harm someone/something. I would like to add a lack of remorse to our definition of evil, too. Unless an individual is sociopathic, he or she cannot deliberately harm another person without feeling pangs of regret. If you have lived in Western society, you surely have heard The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This principle of morality can be found in the Apocrypha of Jewish texts - Tobit and Sirach - as well as faiths from around the world.

I have shamelessly gleaned supporting quotes from Wikipedia:

Buddhism: "One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter." (Dhammapada)

Hinduism: "One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires." (Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8)

Judaism: ""Do to no one what you yourself dislike." (Tobit)

Why did I post this multicultural Golden Rule? Because it is evidence that humans who differ significantly in culture and religion still share an intrinsic moral background - respect for human life. Thus, I find it difficult to believe that many people are truly evil, because the majority of individuals are bombarded from a young age with messages that promote human dignity.

I suppose this raises the question: What about babies and children who are too young to comprehend morality? Are they evil? And I suppose I must give an answer: NO!

I want to redefine "evil" as "selfish behavior," because I believe many people intermix the two. Selfishness is simply valuing oneself over others, and we are all guilty of it at some point. Selfishness is occasionally essential to an individual's survival, when selfless, magnanimous behavior isn't feasible. For instance, a hungry baby wakes up and wails during the middle of the night, awakening its exhausted parents. Is the baby evil? No. Selfish? Yes. For a baby, whose reasoning skills are equivalent to that of a slug, being selfish provides him/her with a meal. Does it matter that the parents must survive the following morning on 4 hours of sleep? No; the baby's survival is guaranteed.

In addition, the baby is already learning the moral skills necessary to function among people. Think about it: a few months after birth, the baby already mimics the facial expressions and verbal intonation of those around him/her. Babies learn through mimicry. After mimicking sounds, what's the next step? Memorizing behaviors, such as altruism and kindness. Due to humanity's intrinsic social nature, a baby is conditioned to become a moral person - one who isn't evil - simply by living among people.    



Why me? Seconds before I post this reflection, I see this appear in my Google Newsfeed:

Never mind. People are evil.



Erin's picture

Parable of Sower

The Parable of Sower is a really impressive novel. Many of our students find it depressing in many ways. The one thing surprised me is the date of this creation. The story is set at 2024 which is almost thirty years from the day of publication of the book. The description of the catastrophe is vivid and threatening. The date of the publication was almost 20 years ago. However, the topic of climate change and the discussion of possible destruction are still on the table of all the environmental conferences. Several movies recently also expressed the same kind og imaginations. Does that mean the concerns for the future are still around and human basically did nothing in the past two decades? The ultimately scene in the book probably won’t be the situation as it is described in the book, but who can guaranteed we can see the same thing after another two decades. I also found the discussion of the creation of religion. I personally agreed that the religions are created for people’s needs. One of my friends asked me once, if god in each religion is really, why they all look like the people believe them. I can’t answer this question. However, I do believe that there are certain kinds of power over our controls. The most interesting discussion is about the human nature. I personally believe people are born with purity and every baby is an angel. Sometimes, some people are just unlucky to encounter some bad situations and have to change to adapt to the environment. I think people always show great characters such as willing to sacrifice when I saw the news about two major earthquakes happened past three years. In the end , I also find the book suspicious in some way, because the narrative tones keep changing from 1st person (diary) or just 3rd person’s. There are also some contradictions in the plots and the feelings of characters.


Sarah Ann's picture

The nature of evil.

I think the best part of Thursday's class was our attempt to define evil. Is it really something we can define? Can we really capture the essence of something so dark and abstract in mere human words? Honestly, I think the closest we can get is to scratch the surface with some examples and attributes. One thing I did want to mention, though, is how someone said evil is demonstrated in Parable - by the pyro users. I don't think it's the drug addicts themselves that are evil. They're driven to do things that we may call evil by a substance that alters their brain's chemical functions. I think it's unfair to say that the users themselves are evil - they're trapped ina vicious cycle of evil themselves, if you think about it. Slaves to a substance. So that brings about a question for me: if evil in the book is sybolized by drugs/drug usage/drug-induced acts, where exactly is the "evil"? Are the drugs evil? Or is it like Bingqing proposed, that humans are born evil and are shaped by their environments, and drugs just facilitate the evil's prevalence?

Otherwise, I think we should go back to day one of the class and do a word-association thing with evil as we did with evolution - first three words that pop into our heads when we hear the word "evil" and see how our subconscious defines it, seeing as we can't seem to define it when we think about it on purpose.

Imittleman's picture

I really liked the idea the

I really liked the idea the class brought up of mutual change.  People change due to the environment and the environment changes due to people.  While change is powerful, it's difficult to say who controls that power.  Or if anyone does, really.  I disagreed that people have that much control over what happens.  You only have control over yourself and not even a ton of it.  Whether it's people or the culture, there's no ruling force behind change.  I feel they impact each other equally.  

I discussed already last week most of my thoughts regarding Parable of the Sower.  Again, I liked how she decided that change was the ultimate force but disliked basing a religion off of that.  I also thought it was interesting how we're beginning to see a metaphor come out of the book in terms of society and how that interacts with each other.  I'm interested in exploring that a bit more....

Angela_MCA's picture

Could This Happen

Butler's novel really got me thinking about the future of cultural change. Is this what we are headed to? I had always thought that we were constantly improving, and now I'm beginning to see that maybe its not that we are improving, but just changing. A lot of the warfare that was going on in Butler's novel is not something that I can't imagine. We aren't that far off, there are parts of the world that situations similar to this are happening. I just hope that people aren't evil enough to allow this to happen.

I think that one individual can have a very strong influence on a culture. A culture is a whole group of people and although every person contributes something to the group, it takes one strong leader to really influence all the people. In Parable of the Sower, Lauren's followers were all different. Each person contributed something, however, it was Lauren that guided the people and kept the community together, allowing it to evolve and become strong.They all looked to her for guidance.

Bingqing's picture

Afterthoughts of Thursday's discussion

Does people’s change over time leads to the changing world? Or does the world’s evolution contribute to evolving human beings? I also hold the question that what have happened before 2024 in Butler’ Parable of the Sower so that the highly civilized world transforms into a place where people confront misery and suffering. Both the scarcity of natural resources and the contorted (or the true original) humanity drive the world to the extremity—the disorder world, the dreadful devolution and the smothery suspicion between people. If it is the world that changes first, then what is the factor that causes the world to change? It must be the only conscious beings in the world—the human beings. In contrast, if it is the human beings change first, then why they transform the world they live and love into such a horrible condition? In the unremittingly changing world, which link has been distorted? 

In China we hold an ancient thought, which was originated from founder of Taoism, Lao Zi, that a thing turns into its opposite if it is pushed too far. Perhaps, the civilization which leads human beings to a more developed and harmonious society turns into something threatening and harmful? It happens in Parable of the Sower but had better do not in the real world. 

MC's picture

Tuesday Thoughts

My thoughts from Tuesday class:

All I know is subculture. I do not define myself in terms of geography or ehnicity. Is that enough? And if the culture I follow isn't the dominant culture, am I recoginized? I am a treated like some lesser being? A cultural minority, to go to extremes (perhaps)? When do we define a minority and majority? And how can we stand any of the awful things we do to each other based on... on anything, really. How do we stand it? Why can't we just... chill with each other? Not to an extreme degree (ha ha, I read science fiction, I can imagine what will happen), but just an overall sense of "Oh hello, that's different, but as long as you're not hurting yourself/others senselessly, then that's fine". Is it because we still have the instinct to fight for resources hardwired in us, to chase off what could harm whatever equilibrium we've created? How did we get so many mental and emotional (since we've already talked a little about cultural) permutations from one little idea we like to call humanity?

ecollier's picture thing can come

“There is nothing new under the sun” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

“The only lasting truth is change,” – Octavia Bulter, Parable of the Sower 

These two quotes, although meant to be opposites of one another, can both be understood. I believe that they both have accuracy. Even if everything is always changing, everything under the sun is made up of all the same materials. Nothing is ever truly new if no thing can come from nothing. What I mean is, no substance, material, etc. is created out of nothing. It is all created/formed/metamorphosed/whatever from something that was already in existence. Energy is never created or destroyed… it only changes form. So, yes, change is always happening, but at the same time, there is nothing new. 

An exception to this might be non-material “things,” such as thought, maybe. Can thought come from nothing? But then again – can thought be truly uninfluenced by other thought?

Olivia's picture


In the book, Lauren told her friend she foresaw the burn down of the town. And her friend ask her why she thought things like that. Then Lauren replied, she just wanted to get prepared so that she could survive. Her response reminds me of our discussion on why we predict. I think Lauren very well answered that question, that is we predict in order to get prepared so that we can survive. As Butler mentioned at the beginning of the book, "the only lasting truth is change", the inevitable change creates a sense of uncertainty and insecure. After finish reading the book, I felt like a tiny dot hanging in the air with nothing to rely on. That's the feeling caused by the constantly changes in the book. And knowing that Lauren was prepared does make me feel better.

Another interesting thing brought from the book is the continuity in cultural evolution, which I thought might be useful for the prediction of the future. We can't predict changes, but we can certainly predict continuities, which sometimes can contribute hugely to the evolution.

elisagogogo's picture

conflict or not?

Our discussion about Parable of the Sower stopped at the conflict between the father’s belief and the author’s idea. As a narrative story, the author believes that the point about the world is change instead of present. Even though community resists and was afraid of change, she insists that the only way to survive in the world is to adapt and mold the inevitable change. Like a non-narrative story, her father thinks that there is nothing new under the sun. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to interpret the world. Instead, I find both her father and hers’ ideas are reasonable. Also, if we combine those two kinds of thinking together, we might find a way of living that we are more comfortable with. To take myself as an example, leaving my home thousands miles away and come to another country, I knew that I would experience a great change. I try my best to adapt the environment actively, but I can never predict and get ready for every single change. Every time when I feel sad and disappointed, I share my new experience, my worries with my parents and friends who I have been familiar with for a long time. In most cases, they could not help me to solve the problem directly, but after pouring out my troubles, I feel relieved and full of energy to go on.

Anne Dalke's picture

"Friends" argue about evolution

Thought you all might enjoy this youtube slice of Friends, in which Ross and Phoebe argue about Evolution (posted by one of the students in my other course, on "Facing the Facts").

nina0404's picture


In our discussion over Butler's novel Parable of the Sower, our class got onto to the subject of the part evil plays in human nature. It was interesting to hear how some of us believed that "we", humans, are born evil. This got me thinking about Thomas Hobbes who believed that without a stable government and society that humans in their natural state would be in a constant state of war aganist each other for survival. This viewpoint I feel is seen in the novel in that the government and society have fallen so drastically that it has lost its ability to enforce order. My question is when this happens why do we go aganist each other instead of coming together to fix the problem? Is it human nature to be egocentric and not care about the welfare of others? Are we at our basic core self-serving? Are we evil?

FluteSound4's picture

Parable of Change

 Parable of the Sower takes human actions and traits that we see in everyday life and it takes them to a whole different level. It definitely makes humans reflect on the type of affect our actions will have. Also, Octavia E. Butler makes Lauren's life comparable to ours in certain ways. Like, for example, gated communities. I grew up in a gated community. The community was gated because years ago (before I had moved there) the area was more dangerous than it is now. We had a large number of illegal immigrants around and there were also one of the two major gangs of the town lived right up the street. Things are different now though. Life around my old community is nowhere as dangerous as it was 12 years ago. But, back to my point. The whole gated community idea made the book more relatable to myself and my life. Or, also like what I mentioned earlier, we can make connections between our lives and Lauren's life by relating human traits, politics, economy, and other problems that are brought up. So, say poverty for example. I'm sure everyone in the class has seen some type of poverty. Well, Butler takes the poverty of today and transforms it and takes it to a whole other level in Parable. But still, the idea of poverty is relatable enough so that we can actually imagine the possibility of it evolving into the level it is in the book.

genesisbui's picture

As an individual, Lauren

As an individual, Lauren determines that she no longer believes in her father’s fate. That when itself is a change. Within a culture, religion is considered to be the foundation of every that is laid across the board. But once someone disrupts this mindset, it brings about a change. A change that includes determining who you are within your culture, where you stand, and how you follow through with your culture…or creating a whole new culture of your own. And as we continue forward with ours lives, and we continue to create our own cultures…in the long run we begin to see that it provokes a continuity of evolutionary change.


SoundsLikeBanana's picture

With Power Comes Responsibility



Parable of the Sower does a great job of making us think twice about the way we're living, and how that way may be harming the future of our civilization. To answer Anne's prompt; the novel shows us not only how a human culture can become something so drastically different that it may cease to be humane. The novel shows the devolution of the California culture due to several, or just one massive, changes within their environment. This devolution can be seen in the murder, rape, and pillaging that is constantly reported by the protagonist.

Something that we brought up in class about this subject was the idea that with freedom comes the opportunity to do wonderful things, such as voting or marrying whomever you want to. But with this power, people can do major harm. Just like how Lauren knew how to kill someone because she was so hyper-empathetic, she could do it swiftly and without a second thought. While it was necessary to her own survival, to protect herself and others, it illustrates how a certain power could be used to harm.

Julie G.'s picture

Change as inevitable, yet malleable

 One of the most important notions that I derived from Butler's tale is the idea that change is inevitable and often happens whether we want it to or not, but that we can mold, and effect change. I've been struggling with the concepts of change as deriving from conscious choice, versus random occurrences. Olamina's doctrine provides a useful blend of these concepts, intertwining them to describe cultural and individual change. In this way, individuals can be acted upon, but still bear responsibility for their actions and reactions.