Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Parting with Humanity in "Lilith's Brood"

            The Oankali take an aggressive tack in revising the human race in “Lilith’s Brood”, one with a pace and magnitude so great that it often frightens and even angers their subjects. Reactions to their plans range from the murderous, in characters such as Curt, to the frightful, in the instance of Cele.  As Nikanj tells Joseph, “Different is threatening to most species…different is dangerous It might kill you. That was true to your animal ancestors, and your nearest animal relatives. And it’s for you” (186). To be fair, there is a relatively small group of wary support for the Oankali in Lilith, and to an extent Joseph, but by and large it seems as though the humans aboard the extraterrestrials’ ship are far from ready to have so much of the foundations of their former lives taken away from them.  Parting with the once-dominant paradigm of human biology and culture seems as though it will be quite difficult for much of the humans, but in order to reunite with their beloved homeland, they must submit to the metamorphosis the Oankali have in mind

            One of the primary concerns of Lilith and those Awakened by her is the nature of any potential offspring that would occur on the new Earth, including that of strictly humans and that of intermingling between humans and the Oankali. The fact that the Oankali wish to permanently imprint themselves on Earth and on what remains of humanity is an uneasy prospect for many of the humans, but one that they must accept and even embrace if they expect to set foot on their home planet again. This conflict first fully materializes itself near the end of the first book, when Nikanj reveals to Lilith that he has impregnated her with material from the now deceased Joseph. Although she finds some comfort in the fact that her offspring will be at least partially related to a person whose company she valued so much, the fact that it will be, in her words, “a thing-not human” (246) obviously upsets her.  As the most accommodating of the humans to the Oankali, a “Judas goat” as she says, it is her reluctant designation to also be the forerunner of the hybrid race that will eventually inhabit the new Earth. 

Butler, Octavia E. Lilith’s Brood. New York City: Grand Central Publishing, 1989


  1. I believe you picked a very important and interesting topic for this blog entry. The Oankali’s plan of dehumanization is one of the central causes of controversy for Lilith and the Awakened. I believe that much more needs to be explored concerning this topic if you plan to revise this blog entry. There are also a few questions that need to be addressed. Why are the humans so opposed to the Oankali’s plan? What is it about being “human” that makes it so important to Lilith and the others? It would also be beneficial if you would provide your point of view on all these things. Are the humans right to resist the Oankali’s plan for change? Or should the humans graciously accept this plan that promises to better both races?

    In addition, I believe that you could engage the text a bit more. Some more examples form the text would greatly aid this entry. Pick out some moments in the story that you believe will illustrate how this theme of parting with humanity is central to the story line, then comment on these moments to express how you feel about them.

  2. The first paragraph, although it does have somewhat of a focus, is basically plot summary - none of this is serving any clear purpose, when you remember that your audience is the rest of the class, and we've all read the book. It should already be clear how you're responding to one of the prompts, and what that response is, in the beginning of this paragraph.

    The second paragraph also is essentially plot summary. I have absolutely no idea what *you* have to say about the book - let alone how you're responding to one of the promps. Remember: an essay *is* an argument. Maybe it's an argument in the process of being formed, rather than a finished one - but the outlines of and the momentum toward an argument need to be there for it to be a functioning essay.