“Is it a sin against God to be poor?” : Marxist and Pedagogical Perspectives on Oppressive Ideologies in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and its Potential for Teaching Critical Thinking.
Sammanfattning: In this essay, I have analysed the novel Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler through a Marxist lens to investigate how ideological oppression is depicted through Capitalism and religion. To examine these ideologies, I analysed Lauren Olamina, the first-person narrator and her half-brother, Keith. The analysis of Lauren shows how the process of critical inquiry granted her a degree of autonomy and agency in her own life. The strengths of the social hegemony and its predominant ideologies are however also revealed insofar as Lauren does not seem able to completely reject the religious mindset into which she has been socialised, as her own creation of the Earthseed belief system reveals her autonomy as being only relative. Additionally, the analysis of Lauren’s brother Keith shows a cautionary tale of individualistic ideologies such as the capitalist American Dream, where the self stands above all else and competitiveness is chosen over the community. Keith poses as both a perpetrator and victim in the novel, as he is both the vulnerable victim of his circumstances yet preys on others in ways that are motivated by the self-serving worldview that he has internalized. I have also argued for using dystopian literature such as Parable in the Swedish upper secondary ESL classroom to develop and exercise the students’ critical thinking. Critical thinking is a fundamental life skill that needs to be developed, encouraged and exercised in the school system and dystopian texts can provide both enjoyable and viable teaching material with which the students can exercise this skill. As critical thinking is a social practice, this collaborative and social aspect needs to be reflected in teaching methods and pedagogy. I end this essay on the note that the implementation of an engaged, thoughtful and guiding pedagogy that leaves room for the students to explore their thoughts, values and opinions amongst their peers and to have them validated is necessary for teachers to help in educating critical and responsible youths. This pedagogy will hopefully result in students who are more prepared, able and eager to evaluate the world critically and engage with the world in a similar spirit to make the world a better place.
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