Archive for religion

Style Matters

Posted in Atwood with tags on February 17, 2010 by Courtney

After reading “The Parable of the Sower”, a question was raised about style. It was asked whether or not you needed the history of the main character to appreciate the present? Buttler did not give us any real back story on Lauren the main character, and I got along just fine without it; now to apply the same question to “The Year of the Flood” by Atwood. The style that her book is written in is completely different than the style that Buttler chose. Atwood has a confusing style at first, and I personally found it bothersome. The book starts off with a poem. At the bottom of the page it says “From The God’s Gardeners Oral Hymnbook”. So it’s a religious song? I guess so. The first chapter has “Toby” written at the top. I assumed this was a guy (later I found out it is a girl). The line below that says “YEAR TWENTY-FIVE, THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD”. Having already had a hint of religion, I believe that the year twenty-five would either refer to the amount of time that has passed since the flood, or that the year twenty-five is the year the flood takes place. Now I’m kind of rusty on my stories from the bible, but I’m pretty sure that Noah didn’t build the ark in year 25. Starting to read the first chapter of the book, it describes the main character Toby climbing in and around old buildings. It is obvious that this is in the feature, and that the ‘flood’ has already happened.

Now for the second chapter, by Ren. A new character, and she has her own chapters. So this is the style that the book is going to be written in: the two main characters will narrate their experiences and lives in their own chapters. Flipping ahead through the book, all chapters are either by Ren or by Toby, so if they ever do meet it will still be from their own perspective.

Having encountered this style before, I am not a fan of it. I guess I should be grateful that there are only two characters, and not five. As you read on, the chapters are narrated by Ren or Toby, but they jump through time. There are several words that Atwood made up, and were confusing until a jump back in time they are explained to you. There is a character that is confusing: Adam One. Now, going with religion, that is not hard to figure out. But when referring to the original Adam and Eve, they are not given a number, but Adam One does. After continuing on, you learn that they are leaders of the religious sect. This is confusing until you understand what is going on. The Adam’s and Eve’s are referred to by both their Adam/Eve and number, or by their names. Take notes if you need to (and on the funny words).

So overall, Atwood has a very complex style for writing this book. It is very thick and has a lot of meanings that are not obvious to the reader at first. But does it work? Is it too distracting? Do we need to know about all the past information or can we just roll with the present like in “The Parable of the Sower”?


When all is at it’s worst…make it better

Posted in Natural Disasters, Religious Roots, Risk & Fear, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 10, 2010 by juneaudale

The Parable of the Sower… Dark, Bleak, Dystopic, Beautiful. In this narrative set in the future where the world (California) has become a state of  collapse from environmental degeneration, scarce resources, poverty,  drug induced pyro sociopaths, murderers and survivors, a young woman  escapes her destroyed community after her family is murdered. Lauren who experiences “Hyper-empathy” decides to migrate North with other survivors in desperate search for anything better where her privately developed religion “earth seed” can take root and flourish.

This is a tale of survival, of poverty, of racism. It is a cautionary tale because the future presented as Butler states “is alarming but possible.”(pg337) It has hints of Millinarianism, of colonialism and an eluding towards an apocalyptic apparition of final demise. It is a tale of loss, of pain, passion, love and so much ever present that swims deep amid the human condition. But most of all,  Parable of the Sower is a lesson in morality. As a parable defined, it is in short “a short tale that illustrates universal truth.”  As mentioned, Lauren, the main character possesses  hyper empathy syndrome which was passed on to her in the womb by her mother through the abuse of a drug named Paracetco .  She literary feels the pain and joys of others . However, it is this “hyper empathy”  ultimately that leads her to truth. Her empathy acts as  her moral compass. Acting on impulse for Lauren comes with it much greater and deeper consequences and so she must choose correctly. Through constant hardship, struggle, intelligence and empathy,  Lauren slowly and patiently weaves her image of god that will in time and in hope, transcend  her blend of various ideas, philosophies, and observations  into her own “earthseed” religion. The ever present reoccurring truth identified throughout this narrative as expressed by Lauren is “change.” In her earthseed verses,  the “true one and right one”(pg 24) Lauren “keeps coming back to”(pg 24)  states “God exists to be shaped, God is change” (pg 25)

Her world as so vividly portrayed page after page demonstrates the power of change. It is the only definable reality for her. It is her ultimate truth. And from her world as horrid as it is, she takes that truth and shapes  and sculpts it into her own vision. It is her vision of hope  and survival of the “earthseed” to “eventually take root in the stars.” It is her chosen path to resist. For in her words ” resistence isn’t always safe, but often necessary”(pg134)and in the end when all is at it’s worst…a change is made, and she makes it better.