Ok…I’m going to preface this with the fact that I realize this may seem a little corny, but I’m going to present the case anyway because I feel it is worthy of attention. Nay, a blog post! Lilith is “the single most alien aspect about the world that [she] is thrust into.” Whew….its over, but not really; keep reading. Not only is she the most alien thing in the world of the Oankali, she also appears to be an integral part of their plan to repopulate Earth with Oankali-human hybrid beings.
At least through the parts I have read through, it appears that Lilith is completely in their world and in their hands. And tying into the notion that Lilith is the most alien aspect of the world she is thrust into is theme of isolation in the novel. Lilith is an alien among aliens and this fact resembles what she appears to fear most; being alone. The first instance we learn of Lilith’s fear of isolation comes on page seven of Dawn, when the narrator explains how, upon “every Awakening…she had shouted, then cried, then cursed until her voice was gone. She had pounded the walls until her hands bled and became grotesquely swollen”. Here the possibility of constantly being alone drives Lilith to self mutilation. Even the grotesque appearance of Jdahya is not enough for her to cause herself any physical harm, which speaks even more to the fact that she fears being alone above all else. Moreover, Lilith directly comments on the notion that humans are not meant to be alone when she says, “You shouldn’t have isolated any of us unless your purpose was to drive us insane. You almost succeeded with me more than once. Humans need one another” (19).
Other instances that allude to the fear of being alone arise throughout the novel. She constantly worries about the “other humans” (15) and she even consciously weighs the possible outcomes of going to Tiej to find Fukumoto, and decides that the “chance to see and speak with one of her own kind again, finally” holds more weight that “solitary confinement” or “suspended animation” (66). So, the fear of being alone is so strong that she will actually risk succumbing to what she fears most (being alone/isolated) for the mere possibility of human interaction.
Perhaps the Oankali know that while they keep humans isolated they will be able to control them better, but what do they expect to happen or what is going to happen when they actually have to gather the troops, so to speak, and descend back to Earth in an effort to repopulate it? The theme of isolation is prevalent in the novel, and I’m interested to see what Butler does with it, and how far in her Oankali training will Lilith stray from humanity, further alienating herself from that group which she so desperately seeks the comfort of.