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Moving Forward

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Change sometimes happens for a good reason, but other times, it makes a situation worse. Lauren Olamina, from the book Parable of the Sower, and Holden Caulfield, from the book Catcher in the Rye, are complete opposites of each other. Throughout their lives, they struggle with their disabilities and the way they think about change. Their individual disabilities take them in different directions; she embraces change and moves forward, while he defeats change and works against moving forward.

Lauren Olamina and Holden Caulfield, both have some sort of disability. Lauren has a very rare syndrome called hyperempathy syndrome. She got this syndrome due to a pill her mother abused while she was pregnant with her (The 4). Hyperempathy causes Lauren to feel the suffering and pleasure of others (The 4). In the book, Lauren said, “My brother Keith used to pretend to be hurt just to trick me into sharing his supposed pain. Once he used red ink as fake blood to make me bleed. I was eleven then, and I still bled through the skin when I saw someone else bleeding. I couldn’t help doing it, and I always worried that it would give me away to people outside the family.” (Butler 11). Her father, a priest, thinks that hyperempathy is no big deal (Butler 11). He always tells her, “You can beat this thing. You don’t have to give in to it.” (Butler 11). Lauren says that the feelings of hyperempathy are all delusional (Butler 11). During her journey to the north with a large group of people, they ran into some trouble. Robbers tried to kill them and take their belongings, and whenever Lauren had to protect herself by killing the other person, she got hurt as well. It took her a while to get back up.

Holden Caulfield, from the book Catcher in the Rye, also has some sort of a disability. His problem is nothing like Lauren’s syndrome. He has a little bit of a mental problem and is troubled. He is telling the story “from a rest home and describes himself as a perpetual failure” (Pagewise 1). He has failed out of four schools and his parents and teachers told his that his reckless acts make him a failure, and he took their words seriously (Pagewise 1). Readers can say that Holden has some sort of psychological problem because of his destructive behavior (Pagewise 2). This problem is caused by “his adoration for non-judgmental, genuine human interaction” (Pagewise 2). The only cure for his problem would be to let go of that interaction and to just go with the flow.

One theme in both books would be the theme of change. Lauren Olamina is for change, while Holden Caulfield is against it. Lauren’s father is “a Baptist minister” (Butler 7) and for most of her life, she followed the same religion that her father did. In her community, there was one church, and “even though not all of the people who live within our neighborhood walls are Baptists, those who feel the need to go to church are glad to come to us.” (Butler 7). But, as she got older, she said, “At least three years ago, my father’s God stopped being my God. His church stopped being my church. My god has another name.”(Butler 7). She makes up her own religion called Earthseed (Butler 7). Lauren tells her friends, “Earthseed is definitely concerned with welfare and education on this earth, but by creating enclaves within the political system, not by changing that system.” (Butler 2). She also tells them, “As a result, the Earthseed community will only use violence to defend itself, not to dominate.”



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