Farrah Cato


If we were living in a dystopian society, we might view gender, sexuality, and race differently. When survival is on the line, it would be a privilege to fight back against any remaining bigotry. Octavia Butler's novel Parable of the Sower provides us with possible answers to these situations, as well as a look into the future of society if we do not change. In this essay, I situate Octavia Butler's dystopic novel in the context of gender. Laura Olamina, the protagonist, is seemingly forced to perform a new gender and sexual identity. My goal is to queer the straightness presented in the novel in order to argue Lauren's perpetuation of dominate ideologies, such as the essentialization of heterosexuality, compulsory sexuality, and essentialized ideas about masculinity and femininity. While others have argued that Lauren overcomes these ideologies, I argue the opposite. Lauren must conform to these ideologies in order to ensure her safety, yet her conformance to these ideologies is part of a wider institutional problem. Lauren herself does not necessarily challenge these ideologies; rather, other characters in the novel challenge the paradigm. I explore the ways that these ideologies affect behavior, especially when survival is on the line. These resulting behaviors include the performance of gender, which I relate back to Judith Butler's theories on the matter, situating the novel through the lens of queer theory.

About the Author

Elijah Drzata is a recent graduate of the University of Central Florida. They earned a BA degree with a major in English Literature and a minor in Women's and Gender studies. Nominated by a former professor for the "Outstanding Literary Research" award, they are known for their expertise in literary research. Their main area of interest includes researching how gender and sexuality are portrayed through literature and critically examining what this says about society at large.



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