Or be divided,
By those who see you as prey.
Or be destroyed.
Diversity makes you stronger. That is essentially the idea behind this Earthseed verse. It shows an important detail of Lauren’s thoughts of what she has to do to survive on her journey north in search of a better life. From this verse we can tell that Lauren sees diversity in age, race and gender as being crucial to their chances of survival. This verse is played out in the novel because Lauren uses diversity to her advantage, because if she doesn’t then she believes it will take advantage of her. Here in the seventeenth chapter of Parable of the Sower we find Lauren, Zahra and Harry encounter a racially mixed couple with a young baby. Lauren tells us that she sees the couple as “potential allies” (207) and that even though they aren’t in need of them now, they would “be damned fools to wait and try to get them when we do need them. By then they might not be around” (207). Although we had seen earlier in the novel that Lauren had advocated that trusting and relying too much on others can be very dangerous in the world that she lives in, now it seems that she is starting to realize that she can’t do everything on her own and that she will need people she can trust to watch out for her just as she watches out for them. When Lauren is on watch and the dogs come to the beach, she kills the dog attacking the couple’s baby in hopes that she will gain their trust (even though she is always hesitant on trusting strangers) and ultimately their alliance against outside threats. Here Harry suggests to her that she “adopted those damned people” (210) which she sees as her way of gaining allies, just as she had done with Harry and Zahra.
Lauren sees diversity as a strength that will help all of them stay alive. Besides diversity in race, diversity in gender was important to Lauren as well. She explained to the couple why she dresses as a man: “We believed two men and a woman would be more likely to survive than two women and a man…Out here, the trick is to avoid confrontation by looking strong” (212). Because Lauren’s religious views are heavily based on the concept of change, she thinks about the future and what it would mean for her and her friends if they had no one else to fall back on; therefore, she befriends the mixed couple in hopes that when circumstances change again, and she knows that they will, she will have another source of help, supplies and support.
“Embrace diversity” (196) says the first line of the verse. Lauren takes her own advice in this chapter of the novel when she reaches out to the young couple who seem to be following her, Harry and Zahra. Harry and Zahra question Lauren’s motives when she first inquires if the two of them feel comfortable inviting the couple to join their group by asking, “Aren’t you afraid they’ll rob us?” (207) because typically Lauren is afraid of letting strangers into her life. But she responds by noting their equipment is better than what the three of them have and that they are all alone, with no one else to watch their backs; joining forces with them would ensure better protection for the couple as well as for Lauren, Zahra and Harry. And by those actions we see the second part of the verse come into play: “Unite—Or be divided, robbed, ruled, killed By those who see you as prey” (196). Lauren avoided the possibility of becoming the “prey” of the young couple in two ways: first, when she defended them against the coyotes and gave back their water, and second when she invited them to join forces with her group in order to become stronger.
“Embrace diversity Or be destroyed” (196). I interpreted this last part of the verse as Lauren saying that at some point you have to realize that everyone has to step out of their comfort zone every once in a while in order to achieve a common goal, especially in her circumstances. And in Lauren’s case that step was her asking strangers to join her in her journey, despite her apprehension towards strangers most of the time. The world in which Lauren lives is full of hesitant people. The couple who eventually joined her were very skeptical at first as to why she would invite strangers to join her (as she expected) because she says, “I didn’t blame them. People stay alive out here by being suspicious” (208). But ultimately the need for collaboration and protection outweighs the instinct of suspicion, which in the long run is why Lauren was able to reach out to the couple and form an alliance.