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In my reading of Dawn by Octavia I picked up on a lot of the evolutionary references.  This huge war on Earth leads to the extinction of the human race.  The science fiction part comes in to play in that the humans that do survive are not what they were before, but more evolved because of artificial selection by the Oankali.  History shows that after every extinction on Earth there was a new explosion of life, each time seeming to produce creatures more advanced than the last.  The theory of extinction is that organisms die out because they are not fit enough to in their environment, which Jdahya points out.  He says that humans would never have survived because of our two flaws, intelligence and our hierarchy system.  He goes on to talk about genetic engineering and how it enables them to “survive as an evolving species instead of specializing ourselvess into extinction or stagnation.”  They are ever evolving, and they are working towards making the race on earth the same way through what seems to be eugenics (he tells Lillith that he can make sure her offspring has a good viable gene mix).  The main idea of evolution is that it has no goal, it just is what it is and works within natural selection.  Here, it is suggested that this medusa-like species is the driving force behind it.

Within the story there is also another level of hierarchy.  Lillith is told that her people will end up being a mix of humans and Oankali, making them more fit to the new environment (meaning more fit than humans).  The Oankali say that they have no hierarchy, however the entire basis of evolution is on a hierarchy.  The Oankali are the most fit because they have the ability to adapt themselves to whatever environment they are in, these new humans are next because the Oankali are sharing their genetic advancements with them, and then you have humans who destroyed themselves and aren’t fit at all.  The other downfall that humans have according to Jdahya is intelligence, however in my reading; I would consider the Oankali extremely intelligent in how they ‘perceive’ everything and have been able to systematically genetically enhance themselves and others.  There is a tendency for hypocrisy with people on the top of the hierarchy in that they often don’t see that what they are doing is exactly what they are trying to fix.   Is this maybe Butler pointing out the ignorance of whoever is on top of the hierarchy?


Liberation: The act or process of trying to achieve equal rights and status.  The ideal of liberation is at the center of every feminist’s heart and the goal that we strive for.  Whether it’s freeing yourself within the jungle, attaining the right to hunt, or the liberation of the mind when you realize how much more there is, liberation is often what it takes to induce change.

In Karen Joy Fowlers’ short story “What I Didn’t See”, the female protagonist is missing a huge piece in her view of the world.  I don’t think that this is a story so much meant to be about the oppression of women, but the oppression of the self.  It’s a very accurate portrayal of women, and humans for that matter.  We have a tendency to get so wrapped up in our cause that we end up consumed by ourselves and we stop seeing other options.  We are creatures of purpose and I think that once we have a goal, we strive to attain only it, which is unfortunate in the sense that our one track minds don’t always allow us to keep our perspectives as wide as they could be.

“I’ve learned some things in the years since, so there’s a strong temptation now to pretend that I felt the things I should have felt, knew the things I might have known.” (Fowler)  This piece of science fiction reminded me of our discussion in class about inclusiveness.  The idea of the middle class white woman protesting, and then realizing the disabled woman and the black woman are also being discriminated against in the same way.  When she finds the family of gorillas she remarks how she is surprised by how human they are.  She also tells us that she would free the woman and child gorilla.  Her realization that the lives of the gorillas are more important than just game reveals her previous perception of them when she did not regard them as anything close to equals (she was morally superior and therefore has every right to shoot them).

The situation with Beverly and how it is left up to interpretation that she ‘liberated’ herself and went to live in the jungle shows the narrow perception of the narrator.  When her husband reveals everything that happened after she left, she has an ‘aha’ moment where she realized she never considered that a woman might do that.  Her sense of regret and her hindsight looking back on the situation and everything she may have taken for granted is Fowler telling us to realize exactly what we are doing.  The narrator missed everything about the mission in the jungle, except for the mission.  She missed the compassion of the people, and even the compassion of her husband.

**The definition of liberation was found at the following link: