Children of War

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler has been really striking a chord with me and it has proven itself to be quite a powerful journey for myself, and I am sure for many others in this class as well, to have embarked upon. In the section we just read, Chapters 7-12, I found myself paying particular attention to the frequent mentioning of children and bringing new life into what seems to be such a destitute, inhospitable world.

This specific lens of thought was perhaps at the forefront of my thoughts during my reading of Butler due to my recent visits to York Central School in which I co-taught a lesson on anti-war protest music during the 1960’s Vietnam War era to several classes of 11th grade students. This lesson served to tie in cultural references and examples from the time period in which the novel that they are reading, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, takes place. One of the songs that we looked at was a cover of Bob Dylan’s iconic song, “Masters of War” (1963), sung by Ed Sheeran. A stanza of the lyrics goes,

“You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins.”

These lines in particular rang out in my mind especially when reading the beginning of Chapter 8 when Lauren thinks to herself, “But my point is-my question is-how in the world can anyone get married and make babies with the things the way they are now?” Lauren is still quite young but sees the immediacy of need when someone in her small, walled-in community brings a new hungry mouth into the world. Whilst her questioning is more so directed at her community members, she is definitely expressing some resentment towards the greater community of the people that are still in control due to the hold that they have over young people like herself who are fearful of what would happen if they were to introduce a child into the world.  In Dylan’s lyrics, the sentiment of the song is clearly anti-war and directed at the government, politicians, and other “masters of war” who controlled the lives of so many young men who were taken from the comfort of their homes, their schools, and their loved ones and forced to witness and experience the worst horrors of their lives. I think that it is not by accident that Butler makes a point of drawing the reader’s attention to children and the impact that the world environment has on young couples’ life plans in creating families.

Pam pointed out in her post the old adage of history repeating itself, and I think that Butler’s novel does an incredible job of portraying parallels between wars, conflicts, and issues that occurred in the mid-to-late 1900’s, as well as even coming frighteningly close to some of the realities that we face today in 2017 (despite this book being written almost 25 years ago in 1993). Whilst it may be a little bit of a stretch to directly compare the fictional world in which Lauren lives in and the world during the time of the Vietnam War, I think that certain aspects of both time periods coincide and I really felt that Dylan’s lyrics hit the nail on the head with the sentiment of anti-establishment and questioning authorities that have the power to control the creation of families.

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