Parable of the Sower

Heaven Symbol Analysis

Heaven Symbol Icon

Religion plays a very prominent role in the novel, and so do ideas about heaven. This is particularly true because there is so much death in the narrative, and because the world of the novel is so miserable. An important question the novel asks is whether or not the characters—who suffer so much in the mortal world—have any hope of finding relief and joy in the afterlife. Raised as a Baptist, Lauren is taught to believe in the traditional Christian version of heaven. Theoretically, the promise of the Christian heaven gives believers hope and motivation to adhere to moral principles during their time on earth. However, it is clear that in the apocalyptic climate of the novel, the abstract promise of a Christian heaven is not enough in the face of the immense suffering and destruction that occurs in the mortal world. This is evidenced when the deeply religious Mrs. Sims chooses to commit suicide even though she believes that this will mean she is sent to hell. It is also revealed when Lauren hopes that her brother Keith will “rest in peace—in his ashes, in his urn, wherever.” Lauren’s ambivalence about the afterlife shapes the development of the Earthseed concept of heaven. Within Earthseed, heaven is literalized in time and space—Lauren writes that it is Earthseed’s “destiny” to “take root among the stars.” Lauren hopes that Earthseed communities will eventually be able to exist in the literal heavens—outer space. She argues that the promise of this real, physical heaven is better than the abstract promise of a Christian heaven, which does not arrive until after death and which no human can be sure even exists.

Heaven Quotes in Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower quotes below all refer to the symbol of Heaven. 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 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

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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 18 Quotes

“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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Heaven Symbol Timeline in Parable of the Sower

The timeline below shows where the symbol Heaven appears in Parable of the Sower. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Religion, Hope, and Change Theme Icon
...and that even though Mars is cold and empty, it is also a kind of heaven. (full context)
Chapter 7
Religion, Hope, and Change Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Truth vs. Denial Theme Icon
Writing, Books, and Scripture Theme Icon
...programs. Lauren doesn’t know when or how, but is certain that Earthseed will get to “heaven” eventually. (full context)
Chapter 10
Religion, Hope, and Change Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Creation, Destruction, and Rebirth Theme Icon
Truth vs. Denial Theme Icon
Writing, Books, and Scripture Theme Icon
...cannot cry over Keith, though she hopes that he rests in peace—“in his urn, in heaven, wherever.” (full context)
Chapter 18
Religion, Hope, and Change Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Creation, Destruction, and Rebirth Theme Icon
Truth vs. Denial Theme Icon
Writing, Books, and Scripture Theme Icon
...about Earthseed’s “Destiny.” Travis points out that Lauren’s God doesn’t give people the hope of heaven, but Lauren replies that Earthseed does promise heaven. She adds: “The Destiny of Earthseed is... (full context)