Parable of the Sower

Lauren is the main character of the novel, which is told through her perspective in the form of her diary entries. At the beginning of the narrative she is 15, and in the final chapter she is 18. Raised in a gated community in Robledo, California, Lauren is African-American, the daughter of Reverend Olamina and an unnamed mother who died in childbirth. Lauren’s mother was a drug addict, and as a result Lauren was born with a neurological condition called hyperempathy, which means she experiences the pleasure and pain of those around her. Although several people (such as Lauren’s father and her brother Keith) consider hyperempathy to be shameful or a liability, it is shown to have both good and bad sides, allowing Lauren to develop a special and unusual relationship to the world around her. Indeed, as Bankole later remarks, Lauren is “a very unusual young woman.” She is remarkably intelligent and well-read, with a relentless appetite for the truth in the face of widespread denial and delusion. Lauren is also exceptionally brave, which allows her to survive the extreme circumstances into which she is thrust after her neighborhood is set on fire and her family killed. Lauren is the creator of a new religion called Earthseed, which she bases on her own beliefs and observations about the world. Through talking to people she meets on the walk north through California from her neighborhood, Lauren founds the first Earthseed community, which eventually settles on the property of Lauren’s lover, Bankole, in Mendocino.

Lauren Olamina Quotes in Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower quotes below are all either spoken by Lauren Olamina or refer to Lauren Olamina . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Religion, Hope, and Change Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grand Central Publishing edition of Parable of the Sower published in 2000.
Chapter 1 Quotes

All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God
Is Change.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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To the adults, going outside to a real church was like stepping back into the good old days when there were churches all over the place and too many lights and gasoline was for fueling cars and trucks instead of for torching things. They never miss a chance to relive the good old days or to tell kids how great it's going to be when the country gets back on its feet and good times come back.
Yeah.
To us kids––most of us––the trip was just an adventure, an excuse to go outside the wall. We would be baptized out of duty or as a kind of insurance, but most of us aren't that much concerned with religion. I am, but then I have a different religion.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

The Garfields and the Balters are white, and the rest of us are black. That can be dangerous these days. On the street, people are expected to fear and hate everyone but their own kind, but with all of us armed and watchful, people stared, but they let us alone. Our neighborhood is too small for us to play those kinds of games.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 5 Quotes

"You don't know that! You can't read the future. No one can."
"You can," I said, "if you want to. It's scary but once you get past the fear, it's easy.”

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker), Joanne Garfield (speaker)
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
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Well, today, I found the name, found it while I was weeding the back garden and thinking about the way plants seed themselves, windborne, animalborne, waterborne, far from their parent plants. They have no ability at all to travel great distances under their own power, and yet, they do travel. Even they don't have to just sit in one place and wait to be wiped out. There are islands thousands of miles from anywhere––the Hawaiian Islands, for example, and Easter Island––where plants seeded themselves and grew long before any humans arrived.
Earthseed.
I am Earthseed. Anyone can be. Someday, I think there will be a lot of us. And I think we'll have to seed ourselves farther and farther from this dying place.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Page Number: 77-78
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

May he rest in peace––in his urn, in heaven, wherever.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker), Keith Olamina
Related Symbols: Heaven
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

There was another robbery last night––or an attempted robbery. I wish that was all. No garden theft this time. Three guys came over the wall and crowbarred their way into the Cruz house. The Cruz family, of course, has loud burglar alarms, barred windows, and security gates at all the doors just like the rest of us, but that doesn't seem to matter. When people want to come in, they come in.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:
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Maybe Olivar is the future––one face of it. Cities controlled by big companies are old hat in science fiction. My grandmother left a whole bookcase of old science fiction novels. The company-city subgenre always seemed to star a hero who outsmarted, overthrew, or escaped "the company." I've never seen one where the hero fought like hell to get taken in and underpaid by the company. In real life, that's the way it will be. That's the way it is.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Heaven
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
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I'm trying to speak––to write––the truth. I'm trying to be clear. I'm not interested in being fancy, or even original. Clarity and truth will be plenty, if I can only achieve them. If it happens that there are other people outside somewhere preaching my truth, I'll join them. Otherwise, I'll adapt where I must, take what opportunities I can find or make, hang on, gather students, and teach.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Heaven
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

In order to rise
From its own ashes
A phoenix
First
Must
Burn.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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I have to write. There's nothing familiar left to me but the writing. God is Change. I hate God. I have to write.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
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Some kind of insane burn-the-rich movement, Keith had said. We've never been rich, but to the desperate, we looked rich. We were surviving and we had our wall. Did our community die so that addicts could make a help-the-poor political statement?

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker), Keith Olamina
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

"We're a pack, the three of us, and all those other people out there aren't in it. If we're a good pack, and we work together, we have a chance. You can be sure we aren't the only pack out here."

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker), Zahra Moss, Harry Balter
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

"Change does scare most people."
"I know. God is frightening. Best to learn to cope."
"Your stuff isn't very comforting."
"It is after a while. I'm still growing into it myself. God isn’t good or evil, doesn't favor you or hate you, and yet God is better partnered than fought."
"Your God doesn't care about you at all," Travis said.
"All the more reason to care about myself and others. All the more reason to create Earthseed communities and shape God together. 'God is Trickster, Teacher, Chaos, Clay.' We decide which aspect we embrace—and how to deal with the others."

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker), Travis Charles Douglas (speaker)
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Now is a time for building foundations––Earthseed communities––focused on the Destiny. After all, my heaven really exists, and you don't have to die to reach it. ‘The Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars,’ or among the ashes.” I nodded toward the burned area.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire, Heaven
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 20 Quotes

God is neither good
nor evil,
neither loving
nor hating.
God is Power.
God is Change.
We must find the rest of what we need
within ourselves,
in one another,
in our Destiny.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Heaven
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 25 Quotes

So today we remembered the friends and the family members we've lost. We spoke our individual memories and quoted Bible passages, Earthseed verses, and bits of songs and poems that were favorites of the living or the dead.
Then we buried our dead and we planted oak trees.
Afterward, we sat together and talked and ate a meal and decided to call this place Acorn.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Acorns
Page Number: 328
Explanation and Analysis:
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A sower went out to sow his seed:
and as he sowed, some fell by the
way side; and it was trodden down,
and the fowls of the air devoured
it. And some fell upon a rock; and
as soon as it was sprung up, it
withered away because it lacked
moisture. And some fell among
thorns; and the thorns sprang up
with it, and choked it. And others
fell on good ground, and sprang up,
and bore fruit an hundredfold.

Related Characters: Lauren Olamina (speaker)
Related Symbols: Acorns
Page Number: 328-329
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lauren Olamina Character Timeline in Parable of the Sower

The timeline below shows where the character Lauren Olamina appears in Parable of the Sower. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...that “the only lasting truth is Change” and that “God is Change.” In her diary, Lauren Olamina writes that on the night before her 15th birthday and her father’s 55th, she... (full context)
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On another night, while they are hanging out laundry, Lauren’s stepmother Cory tells her that due to light pollution, it didn’t use to be possible... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Lauren admits that three years ago she stopped believing in her father’s God and church, but... (full context)
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...old days,” whereas the kids just like the adventure of going beyond the neighborhood wall. Lauren’s 12-year-old brother Keith is also being baptized, though he doesn’t care about religion (or anything... (full context)
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...a city 20 miles away from Los Angeles that was once “unwalled” and “green.” After Lauren’s father’s parents were murdered in 2010, he inherited their house, where he and his family... (full context)
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Meanwhile Lauren notices that the people outside the neighborhood gate often have missing limbs, open wounds, and... (full context)
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Hyperempathy involves sharing both pleasure and pain, but the people around Lauren rarely feel pleasure. Lauren enjoys sex, though as a preacher’s daughter in a tiny gated... (full context)
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The church has security bars, “Lazor wire,” and armed guards. Lauren is baptized last and wishes she wasn’t going through with it. She reflects on people’s... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...that followers of Earthseed do not “worship God,” but instead “shape God.” In her diary, Lauren writes that an astronaut named Alicia Leal on the latest Mars mission has been killed.... (full context)
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The last “Window Wall television” in Lauren’s neighborhood has gone out. It belonged to the Yannis family, who charged a small fee... (full context)
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Mrs. Sims, a devoutly Christian woman in Lauren’s neighborhood, has shot herself. She was the only person Lauren knew who lived alone, and... (full context)
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Lauren cannot stop thinking about Mrs. Sims and Alicia Leal; she feels that the two stories... (full context)
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...and plans to suspend environmental and labor protection laws in order to end mass unemployment. Lauren worries about this, and notes that her father didn’t vote for Donner in the end—he... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...and another that argues that victims of God can find the power to shape God. Lauren then says that a three-year-old girl in her neighborhood, Amy Dunn, started a fire in... (full context)
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...house. They are twins whose spouses have both died. They are suspicious that residents of Lauren’s neighborhood robbed Mrs. Sim’s house in the aftermath of her death, even after Lauren’s father... (full context)
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Lauren is on her way to target practice with a group of kids and adults when... (full context)
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Lauren’s father encourages her to practice shooting birds and squirrels with BB guns. She suspects that... (full context)
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...within the group, some of who are more afraid of feral dogs than others. Suddenly, Lauren’s father insists that they all go home. It is only later that Lauren learns it... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...put out buckets to collect the rainwater. The next day it is still raining, and Lauren runs outside, happily getting soaked. The day after that Lauren learns that Amy Dunn is... (full context)
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...Amy’s murderer, although this will realistically be impossible. Joanne comes over to have lunch in Lauren’s bedroom. Lauren loves the privacy of having her own room, especially considering that most houses... (full context)
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Lauren admits that she heard on the radio that cholera is spreading throughout the South, and... (full context)
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Joanne suggests that her mother may be right about Donner, but Lauren denies this, arguing that Donner is only a false symbol of hope. Lauren notes that... (full context)
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Lauren shows Joanne a pile of books about survival in the wilderness, medical emergencies, and living... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...following quote from The Book of the Living: “Drowning people sometimes die fighting their rescuers.” Lauren writes that Joanne told her mother about their conversation, and that the news got to... (full context)
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Lauren is angry, but decides to change the subject by asking if her father got back... (full context)
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Lauren’s father asks Lauren if she tried to persuade Joanne to run away, which is what... (full context)
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Lauren’s father then admits that Lauren’s idea about the earthquake packs is good, and promises that... (full context)
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The next day, Lauren’s father preaches from the part of Genesis that describes Noah and the ark. After church,... (full context)
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That night, Lauren overhears her father and Cory discussing what they will do if they catch a thief.... (full context)
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...watch becomes official. Once a week, the watchers meet for shooting and martial arts practice. Lauren’s father takes all his books back from her, but she doesn’t mind as she has... (full context)
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This causes another argument between Lauren’s father and Cory, who points out that the thieves could have easily killed someone. Lauren’s... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...“Godseed,” and that “Earthseed is all that spreads Earthlife to new earths.” In her diary, Lauren writes that she has finally found a name for her religion: Earthseed. The name comes... (full context)
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Lauren has packed a survival pack for herself, including almost a thousand dollars in savings, which... (full context)
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Lauren listens to a radio report about an Anglo-Japanese moon station that has found planets orbiting... (full context)
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It is the day before her 16th birthday, and Lauren can’t wait to be older. Tracy Dunn has disappeared; ever since Amy died, she has... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...isn’t married to the baby’s father, and there is a “feud” between their families, although Lauren is glad that they are at least both Latino because fights over interracial couplings are... (full context)
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...Payne kids still come, even though their uncle Wardell has been saying rude things about Lauren’s father. Keith, who is almost 13, begged to come even though he knows he is... (full context)
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Soon, Lauren’s father shouts for her to come inside the house. Keith is lying on the kitchen... (full context)
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...confess what he did at church and apologize to his parents, the community, and God. Lauren’s father does not hit him, but instead asks over and over how he could be... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...that opens this chapter states that “all struggles are essentially power struggles.” On Keith’s birthday, Lauren’s father and Cory give him a BB gun. Keith shoots birds, threatens to shoot Marcus,... (full context)
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...still no sign of Keith. Cory seems to believe that he is dead, and accuses Lauren’s father of not trying hard enough to find him, even claiming that he loves Lauren... (full context)
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Two days later, Keith reappears without a scratch, wearing new clothes and shoes. Lauren’s father immediately destroys the BB gun, before viciously beating Keith. Afterward, Keith cries while Cory... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The narrative jumps ahead to the year 2026. Lauren writes that Keith has come back again. He is almost 14 now, and very tall.... (full context)
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Lauren knows Keith is lying, and that he must be earning money through theft or selling... (full context)
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...$23,000 from a man who’d come to LA from Alaska, before shooting him. He warns Lauren that she’d do better to stay in the neighborhood, marry Curtis, and have babies than... (full context)
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That evening, Keith gives presents to the family and offers to bring something for Lauren next time, but she refuses. The next Monday is Lauren’s birthday. She has sex with... (full context)
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Two days later, Cory and Lauren’s father have to go downtown to identify Keith’s body. Lauren is unable to write for... (full context)
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Lauren’s father asks his friend, another reverend, to handle the funeral. Cory can’t stop crying, but... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Lauren writes that the community is falling apart. Another robbery has taken place; three thieves broke... (full context)
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Lauren learns that a company called KSF has taken over the coastal city of Olivar. Olivar... (full context)
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Lauren’s father is dubious about the KSF scheme, but Cory says she wishes Robledo would be... (full context)
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Marcus tells Lauren that the Garfields (Joanne’s family) are planning on moving to Olivar, which makes Lauren sad.... (full context)
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In the next entry, Lauren writes that she has decided to go north. She will use several old maps that... (full context)
Chapter 12
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The Garfields have been accepted by KSF and are moving to Olivar next month. Lauren goes to Joanne’s house while she packs, and questions her about the move. At first... (full context)
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A few days later Lauren’s father fails to come home from work. Lauren joins a search party that rides out... (full context)
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Five days later there is still no sign of Lauren’s father. The adults have stopped looking, and the police could not find anything, although they... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Lauren’s father’s funeral takes place even though his family still doesn’t know what happened to him.... (full context)
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After the Garfields leave, Lauren and Curtis have sex and discuss their future. Curtis suggests that they get married and... (full context)
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...While neighborhood residents try to put the fire out, three more houses are robbed, including Lauren’s house. Lauren says that people set fires because it helps them commit theft, because they... (full context)
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Fortunately, the community manages to scare the thieves away, and Lauren is relieved to find they didn’t discover all of the money hidden in her house.... (full context)
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A few days later, Lauren writes that Cory has pleaded her way into taking over part of Lauren’s father’s job... (full context)
Chapter 14
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It is 7 months later, July 2027. Lauren awakes in the middle of the night to the smell of burning; she grabs her... (full context)
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In the morning, Lauren wakes up and knows she must go home, but is reluctant to do so. That... (full context)
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Outside, the garden that Cory so carefully tended has been destroyed. Lauren grabs the few vegetables she can and shakes lemons from the tree. She also manages... (full context)
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Someone calls Lauren’s name, and she turns around to see Zahra Moss, Richard’s youngest wife, and Harry Balter.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Harry has a concussion and sleeps most of the next day. Lauren is grateful for the distraction of looking after him and talking with Zahra, who periodically... (full context)
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Lauren points out that if Harry goes to Olivar the Garfields will take him in, but... (full context)
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A little while later, Zahra brings them some peaches, and Lauren gives her the clothes she’d taken for her family to wear. Zahra says she will... (full context)
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Harry expresses surprise at Lauren’s indifference over the fact that Zahra stole the peaches she brought them, considering Lauren’s Christian... (full context)
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...almost everyone is filthy and smelly. There are a few young men around who remind Lauren of Keith; she watches them warily. She keeps her gun loaded and half-hidden in its... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Lauren soon learns that “walking hurts.” Zahra advises the others to suck on the pip of... (full context)
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...robbed of everything as he walked. Harry is resistant to the harsh and selfish attitude Lauren and Zahra espouse, which leads Lauren to wonder if they should go on without him.... (full context)
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At that moment, two large men walk over, and one of them smiles at Zahra. Lauren flashes her gun at them and they quickly back off. The trio plan to do... (full context)
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Lauren’s time keeping watch is exhausting and terrifying. She hears people and gunfire in the distance,... (full context)
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Unable to get the gun from Harry, Lauren retrieves a knife from her pack and slits the man’s throat. She tells Harry and... (full context)
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Zahra and Lauren hug, and Lauren wonders why they had not been friends back in the neighborhood. Lauren... (full context)
Chapter 17
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As Lauren, Harry, and Zahra keep walking, they see an enormous fire, perhaps a whole other neighborhood... (full context)
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Yet despite his interest in Lauren’s writing, Harry remains distrustful of the “new” Lauren. Zahra, on the other hand, is not... (full context)
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...reliably clean water; however, they are also dangerous spaces where robberies often take place. As Lauren and Harry approach the station, they intervene in an attempted robbery of a young family—two... (full context)
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...ocean, which none of them has ever seen before. Harry goes for a swim, but Lauren and Zahra don’t. Lauren notes that there seems to be little violence and crime on... (full context)
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The next day, the family does not join them. Lauren sees another group of people have their supplies taken by a pack of dogs, which... (full context)
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Harry accidentally refers to Lauren as “she,” and Lauren is forced to admit that she is in fact female. Lauren... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Sunday, and the traveling group is resting on a new beach in Santa Barbara County. Lauren is surprised to find that some of the local people on the beach are willing... (full context)
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Back on the beach, Travis questions Lauren about how she can really believe in Earthseed, when she “made it up.” Lauren responds... (full context)
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Harry joins the conversation. Travis discusses the physical law of entropy, which surprises Lauren; Travis explains that his mother had been a journalist and that she taught him to... (full context)
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...making sexual advances at Natividad. The man’s wife then helped Travis and Natividad to escape. Lauren notes that no such help existed during slavery. Travis says he can’t view entropy as... (full context)
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Travis points out that prayer consoles people. Lauren replies that there is hope to be found in acknowledging the truth of the universe... (full context)
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A week later, Lauren writes that she thinks Travis is her first convert, and Zahra is the second. Zahra... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...later, there is an earthquake. The people walking along the freeway scream, and some fall. Lauren helps an old man who has fallen to the ground, and then sees another older... (full context)
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Lauren and Bankole discuss the fact that their relatives both changed their surnames to Yoruba names... (full context)
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Suddenly a man grabs Zahra, and seconds later another grabs Lauren. Lauren manages to stab her attacker, and kills him; she has never been in more... (full context)
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...somewhat hostile, but agrees to travel with the group and to help and support them. Lauren welcomes her. She talks to Bankole, and reflects that she likes him “too much” and... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The group decides to skip their usual rest day. Lauren listens to the radio, which advises people to stay away from the Bay Area. The... (full context)
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The group get out their maps and plan a new route. Lauren warns some women traveling alone with children to avoid the Bay Area, but they simply... (full context)
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Lauren reaches for Bankole, but he is not there. She can’t see him, but lies still... (full context)
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Lauren begins her watch along with Allie, telling the rest of the group that she will... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...gardens where they are growing vegetables. The people living by the lake seem wary of Lauren’s group, but there is no confrontation. The group chooses a spot far away from the... (full context)
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Lauren tells Bankole that the “essentials” of Earthseed are learning to shape God, educating and supporting... (full context)
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Lauren believes that Bankole secretly has a place to go up north, or enough money to... (full context)
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In the next entry, Lauren writes that she has spent an entire day “talking, writing, reading, and making love to... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Lauren writes that the group has been walking along the I-5 for a week. There are... (full context)
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Bankole insists that Lauren comes with him to Mendocino. Lauren responds that she wants to accompany him, but that... (full context)
Chapter 23
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During the night, there is more gunfire. For the first time, Lauren is able to ignore the sounds and simply sleep through it. In the morning, she... (full context)
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...if she and the girl can come with the group, promising that they will work. Lauren calls the group to discuss this in private. (full context)
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...is some resistance among the group to the woman and child joining them; without thinking, Lauren mentions Bankole’s plot of land. Eventually they agree to take them, but Travis and Lauren... (full context)
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...she could only take care of Tori now. They began walking north, and snuck into Lauren’s camp after finding themselves near a gang fight. (full context)
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...Doe, “pulling their parents together.” Grayson appears to like Emery, but dislikes the group overall. Lauren is suspicious of him. She believes that he and Doe were also debt slaves, based... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...man, who was holding Tori. More bald people ran over from the freeway, holding weapons. Lauren shot the man holding Tori, and knew immediately that he was dead. Lauren got up... (full context)
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...the woods when she was shot. The group digs a shallow grave for Jill while Lauren is still unconscious. Lauren was also shot, but the bullet only grazed her, and Zahra... (full context)
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After leaving Grayson, Lauren goes to comfort Allie. Despite Allie’s initial hostility, Lauren hugs her. Allie resists at first,... (full context)
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...away from them. They are unsure about whether they can outpace the encroaching smoke, but Lauren persuades them to stop and eat and drink a little in order to have enough... (full context)
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When they stop to sleep, Grayson tells Lauren that he will watch with her, as her pain is keeping him awake anyway. Lauren... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...are suspicious and unhelpful. Bankole and Harry return with supplies, but no news of Alexandra. Lauren suggests holding a funeral and burying the bones, but Bankole refuses. (full context)
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...as well as patches of carrots and potatoes, and other trees growing fruit and nuts. Lauren believes that the group could start farming the land, planting the seeds she’s carried from... (full context)
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...jobs in the local town when he and Bankole went to speak to the police; Lauren replies that it’s more likely that the townspeople were suspicious of strangers, as there are... (full context)
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...gesture that Bankole finds so moving that he walks into the woods to cry alone. Lauren goes to find him there, and tells him she’d like to plant oak trees in... (full context)
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Bankole remarks that it’s a shame that Lauren is so young and didn’t get a chance to see the country before it fell... (full context)