Fire is the most prominent force of destruction in the novel. All over the country, communities are destroyed by fires—including, eventually, Lauren’s neighborhood. Part of the significance of fire is that it can be both a natural and man-made force. Many of the fires raging across the country occur naturally, as a result of climate changed-induced drought, storms, and extreme heat waves. However, others are started on purpose by arsonists, including addicts of the drug known as pyro. This drug, which is mentioned frequently throughout the book, makes the experience of watching a fire burn “better than sex” and thus encourages addicts to burn everything in sight. The comparison between arson—an act of destruction—and sex, which (at least in a biological sense) is an act of creation, is testament to the perversion of humanity in the world of the novel.
The destruction caused by fire is generally shown to be total and irrevocable—as soon as Lauren’s neighborhood burns down, for example, she, Harry, and Zahra flee, knowing that the community in which they once lived will never exist again. On the other hand, there are also references to the idea of the “phoenix”: new life rising from the ashes of fire. This is especially true on Acorn, the Earthseed community formed on the remains of Bankole’s farmland at the end of the novel. Although Bankole’s farmhouse and family have been destroyed by fire, the community plant seeds in the land that remains, a reminder that even ash can provide the “good ground” evoked in the Parable of the Sower.
Fire Quotes in Parable of the Sower
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.
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.
In order to rise
From its own ashes
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?
"I wasn't crying about that fire. I was crying about our fire and my Bibi and
thinking about how much I hate people who set fires like that. I wish they would burn. I wish I could burn them. I wish I could just take them and throw them in the fire… like they did my Bibi."
“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.