The Role of Nature in the Works of Octavia Butler

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Kindred follows the story of a writer who travels back in time to the antebellum south and meets her ancestors, a white plantation owner and a black slave. So I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: In part due to her dyslexia, Butler never drove and was a loyal public transportation user.

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12 Fast Facts About Octavia Butler | LiteraryLadiesGuide

Despite her reserved nature, she was known to start conversations with fellow bus riders. In , Butler was awarded the MacaArthur fellowship, becoming was the first science fiction author to win this grant, male or female! Butler was always exceedingly tall for her age. She also struggled with dyslexia, which made schoolwork a torture. You might also enjoy: She recalled that her upbringing was strictly Baptist. Raised in the racially integrated city of Pasadena, Octavia shared the same name with her mother. They were part of her growing collection that she was gifted by her mother, who brought home the tattered copies from the homes she cleaned.

12 Fast Facts About Octavia Butler

Butler occasionally traveled for pleasure, including her journeys to Peru and hiking Huayna Picchu, the tallest mountain peak in Machu Picchu. But some of these travels were also for the purpose of research. Get ready for what's going 10 happen, get ready 10 survive it. Gel focused arranging to survive so that we ean do more than just gct batled around by crazy people, desperate people, thugs, and leaders who don't know what they're doing! Lauren infonllS Joanne that they must prepare not only for the worst.

Lauren e01llinues her lesson to her friend by informing her that tlte moment she is preparing for is '''the day a big gang of thosc hungry, desperate, crazy peoplc outside decide to come in. I'm talking about what we've got to do before that happens so that wc can survive and rebuildor at least survive and escape to be someth ing other than beggars'" Butler As 1-laTaway notes, "cyborg writing" is ultimately abOlLt sllrvival Lauren is able to escape the invasion of the Paints and begin a new community becausc of her insis- tence, not only the use of tcchnology, but also on knowledge of nature.

As the conversation progresses and Lauren begins to lruSI Joanne more, she shows her the method of learning the simultaneolls application of nature and technology. Lauren accumulates her knowledge for surviv- al through the lise of books and a computer: Significantly, the books arc about bOlh technology and naturc and aid Lauren in planning for the time when the group is going to be "outside" Butler During the conversation Joanne becomes upset with Lauren as clearly Lauren is upsetting her be- liefs, the same beliefs thai Lauren's father reinforces.

I sa id" Butler Clearly from Joanne's above statement one of the main fears of the com munity is the uncertain- ty associa ted with the society "outside" of the walls of Robledo and the loss of comfort Butler 58 , Once Joanne tells her mother about the con- versation and Lauren's father is infonned, Lauren calls Joannc's beha- vior an act of "denial" But ler 6 1. Lauren 's father then speaks to her about the talk the two females had previously and says to her " I want your promi se that you won ' t ta lk abou t this anymore" Butlcr 65 , Lau- ren's fath er informs her that " It 's better to teach people than to scare them, Lauren, If you scare them and nothing happens, they lose their fear.

Lauren however understands that thc method of givi ng and receiving infornlat ion must also al ter as time is qu ickly run- ning out.

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Even though Lauren's father acknowledges ofThandedl y that Lauren is correct in her assertions regarding the upcoming downfa ll of the community, he docs not understand that change is a necessity of life. Lauren's father onc day ventures to work and never returns. Soon aft er, the Pain ts use a truck to forec their way through the Rob ledo comm unity gate, and Lauren and two others flee. Once Lauren and others decide that they wish to travel together, their ultimate goal is to ven ture as far north as possible.

This is the group that becomes Lauren's second communi ty.

Octavia Butler: Science Future, Science Fiction

When used together on this jour- ney to the sitc of Lauren's third community, it is shown that nature and technology may provide protection. On the ni ght of one of the fires ncar the freeway that the trio travels, the group secu res protection, a safe ha- ven amongst the chaos, by utili zing both nature and human-made mate- rials.

In her August 3, entl ' Lauren not es that, "One of the huge freeway signs had fallen or been knocked down , and now lay on the ground, propped up by a pair of dead syca more trees. No we're here, happy to get a little privacy, a view of the hills back where the fire is, and the security, for what it was worth. The symbiotic relationship between nature, whi ch appears as the trees, and tech nology, which is the sign, offers the trio liberation from danger.

The protection offered is not pennanent. As a result Lauren and her companions must continue their journey to their final community. The group is OUI in thc opcn traversing the freeway with only tech nology" guns and knives, to protec t them from harm. The battle concludes wi th Lauren and the members of her second commun ity kill ing the three attackers. It is not until they find re fuge on Bankole's land that they safe from harm.


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Until that time the group suffers due to outside violence and their own fears of such and the balt le between nature and technology con tinues with an oc- casional victor. After Bankole and Lauren bccome personally acquaintcd he infonns her that he owns a plot of land. Laurcn notes in her journal. He has, as I sus- pected , a safe haven-or as safe as any haven can be that isn", surrounded by high-tech security devices and armed guard.


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It 's in the hills on Ihe coast ncar Cape Mendocino maybe two weeks from here" B utler Even though Lauren knows, as she has previously stated, that sa fety is always a concern, she permits herself 10 be lulled into a sense of false security regarding the commun ity"s fUllire destination. Bankole infonns Lauren that '"Most of il is good for faflllin g. It 's got some trees o n it, and some big tree stu mps. My sister and her husband have built a house and a few outbuildings" Butl er In his discuss ion of pastoralism, Marx reveals thai there is ""an urge to withdraw from civilization's growing power and complexi ty.

What is attractive in pastoralism is the felicity represented by an image of a natural landscape, a terrain either unspoiled or, if cult ivated, rural" 9. The in troduction of Bankole's land comes as hope to Ihe com munity. Later in the novel Lauren offers the remainder of Ihe group the 0pp0l1unity to reside there as well.

Now, instead of technology dominating nature, the idealizi ng of nature by Lauren and her group allows nature to dominate technology. Marx elaborates on his pre- vious statement by noting that '"this impulse gives rise to a symbolic mo- tion away from ccn ters of civil ization toward their opposite, nature, away from sophistication toward si mplicity, or, to introduce the cardi nal meta- phor of the literary mode, away from the city toward the country" The lure of the tranquility of nature and the proposed safety away from the violen t masses lu lls the group into a sense of fal se secu rity" The worst attacks against the group arc recorded by Lauren in her September 17, entry when nature prevails over technology.

In Ihis en try Lauren recoun ts the murder of one of ' he members of her second com mun ity, Ji ll, and a fire that the group must outrun in order to survi ve.

The Role of Nature in the Works of Octavia Butler

While they arc away from the campsi te the remainder of the group is lulled into complacency by the remnants of nature lel1 in the area. The group is only alened to danger when sc reams arc heard from the females: Nalllre and technology remain separate during the attack from the "bald gang from the highway"; howevcr, they do come logcther at a cru- cia l period to provide a barrier for Lauren and Bankole to hide behind and shoot from as well Butler Al1er she wakes from her uncons- cious state, which she enters while behind the barrier, Lauren observes, ""Jill Gilchrist is dead.

She was shot in the back as she ran toward the trees carryi ng Tori" Butler The unionof nature and technology only exists momentari ly; however. When the two en tities arc no longer symbiotic, Jill dies.

The battle for superiority that wages between nature and technology contin ues later. We couldn't tell fo r Sllre, but the fire looked as though it migh t have begun back as far as where we had stopped at the oak copse. All night, they' ll be burning things. In thi s instance the batt le start s through the usc of human intervention. The fire quickly over- lakes Lauren's community: Once this is done, once nature and tech nology arc used in tandem, the fi re begins to fluc tuate in intensi ty and then moves away from the group.

Marotta It was incredible. We were going to survive. We were going 10 makc il. Butler The group expericnees a ncar complete transformation in their mode of existence. Their final step in accepting the need for a symbiotic relation- shi p between nature and technology and liberating themselves complete- ly from the conven tion s of the past occurs when they reach Humboldt County.

Lauren's immediate description of the arca is of the pastora l ideal hig- hlighted in Marx's work. Lauren notes that, "The land surrounding us, however. It 's covered wi th dry bmsh. Even though there arc traces of human habi tation the area, there is also an ob- servation from Lauren that it is isolated and the inhabi tants have little in terest in One another.


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  6. The hope for a new beginning and "the soft veil of nostalgia that hangs over our urbanized landscape is largely a vestige of the once dominant image of an undefiled, green republic. Lauren's entry ends wi th the following statement: There was no house.

    Inspiration for Writers and Readers from Classic Women Authors

    There were no buildings. There was almost nothing: A broad black smea r on the hillside; a few charred planks sticking up from the nLbble. A tombstone amid the bOlles and ashes. Butler Once the former residents of the land and their technology arc disposed of, the only trace left behind is food in a garden and a water pump, ergo two necessities of survi val.

    Once the community reaches a consensus to remain on the land and utilize both nature. The past is to be put behi nd the group. The final community realizes that in order to survive they must accept an existence as cyborgs, en titi es that regard a symbiotic relationship between nature and technol- ogy as necessmy. The group makes a conscious choice to escape the so- c iety that confines them to li ves full of slavery, rape, and a lack of water: In Lauren's irst community she is " marked as other" by friends and fam ily due to her insistence that change and preparation for the future is necessary and that in order to survi ve nature should be uti lized as well as technology Haraway Lauren's beliefs enable her to withstand the dangers in her society; and to create the Earthseed community.

    Nature is cha racterized as serene until the vio len t entrance of technology disrupts the peace Marx Society clearly has changed in America and Butler shows that while tech nol ogy may be valued more than nature. Crit ic Jerry Phillips. Lauren sees that a community based on such bad faith has lill ie hope of averting eventual catastrophe" Lauren understands tha t the "walled-in pleasure gar- den" has no place in a soc iety where nature is facing ex tincti on and, as a result.

    In a soc icty where an accumulation of material objects makes a person a target. Prec isely, in an America where slavery reappcars and ci ties arc con troll ed by corporations, Lauren and lite three com mun ities show Ihat the only authentic liberation and sa fety is offered by a symbioti c relationship between nature and technology. Parable of Ille Sowel'. Theory Ac 3 no1 Ja The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission.

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