The decision of Butler to change the narrative perspective from third to first in the final book is representative of the successful transition of the human species to human/Oankali constructs. By revealing Jodahs’ thoughts and feelings, it shows the motivations of the Oankali as a whole as well as a movement away from individualism. Jodahs story can perhaps be seen as a story that future Oankali/human children will hear to learn of the triumph and value of their kind.
Jodahs as a construct represents the last real test to the Oakanli genetic engineering experiment with humans. As an ooloi, it has incredible ability to create new life as well as to create diseases without effort. The concern is that the construct ooloi will inherit the power as well as the desire and drive for power inherent in the human species. However, Jodahs drive for power seems non –existent in comparison for its passion for companionship with the human species and its obsessive need to heal. It discusses the inescapable desire to heal when it sees Marina by saying “the pull of the female, injured, alone and in no way related to me was overwhelming” and continues with “[t]he beauty of her flesh was my reward. A foreign Human as incredibly complex as any Humans, as full of the Human Conflict […] She was like the fire-desirable and dangerous, beautiful and lethal. Humans never understood why Oankali found them so interesting”(Butler 577). The use of first person here is important as these insights in to the motivations and desires of the new Oankali construct are important to witness how Jodahs is beyond the human contradiction. Its description of the human being so appealing reflects how almost fully Oankali it is. As well as when it interacts with this women, and refers to her Human Conflict, it shows that it sees itself as separate and not a part of that dilemma. Jodahs shows both the Oankali passion and the recognition of the fatal flaw in humans. In this way, access to its inner thoughts shows the reader the extent to which Jodahs as a construct is distinct mentally from humans.
Another aspect that is present in the first person perspective in the third book is the fact that Jodahs is a movement towards the more Oankali way of interaction in which every being’s thoughts are known by anyone present. Jodahs experience is not its own as other Oankali, most often Nikanj are able to can’t help but sense it. When Jodahs first finds out that it will become an ooloi rather than a male construct it reflects “[t]here were times when I envied Humans their ability to shut off their sight by closing their eyes, shut off their understanding by some conscious act of denial that was beyond me”(Butler 548). This collective experience means that nothing is private and everyone is aware of everything. The use of the first person may be a tool to show that the personal thoughts and struggles of Jodahs as the other Oankali would perceive it as well as how it would feel to Jodahs to have everything exposed every thought, pain, and desire. Jodahs represents a construct that is much more collective in communication and experience than Lilith and other humans. Even though the Oankali were able to sense the human emotions, they did not draw attention to the fact that they had access to their private thoughts and they relied more on verbal communication.
The use of the first person in the telling of Jodahs story may be representative of the fact that its tale is one of success for the Oankali people. Lilith is remembered as being the first human as well as saving Nikanji’s life. But Jodahs may represent more of an important figure in Oankali history as it proves the triumph of the Oankali over the difficulties facing the transition of the human race into human constructs and overcoming the human contradiction. The first person may help show this distinction by showing the importance of preserving for further generations the inner feelings and emotions of the first ooloi construct. It’s not hard to imagine that the last scene in the novel when Jodahs creates independent life as being an important moment in and if it were perhaps in traditional human history, would be painted on the walls of cathedrals for future generations of constructs (746). In some ways Jodahs may represent almost a religious redeemer for the human constructs as it was still an experiments with Lilith and Akin.
The use of the first person in the third book shows the success by revealing the inner thoughts of the ooloi construct as well as possibly better representing its individual experience. Additionally the first person is important to the Oankali constructs as Jodahs story is the success of the human Oankali experiment and proves that life will continue for the constructs.
Butler, Octavia. Lilith’s Brood. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1989.