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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?


In reading Octavia Butlers, “The Evening and then Morning and the Night”, (I found myself taken aback by the very blunt and extreme nature of her writing.  Just to praise the author, I loved the way that it was written because with such a topic as suicide, she went about it with a smoothness that I hadn’t seen before.  In reading the short but salient story, I didn’t see the message of biology or nature to be as poignant as the message of mental health.  This story shows the contradiction of control, communication and the fight within the self to either submit to the way things are or fight against the grain.

In 1980 Borderline Personality Disorder was officially named as a disorder that could be diagnosed and treated.  A huge part of BPD is that you logically may know something is one way, but your behavior and reaction is entirely separated from that.  In the story, DGD shares a lot of the same characteristics as BPD in that is often results in self destructive behaviors, involves a feeling of being trapped within yourself and has levels of anxiety and paranoia.  I think that it’s quite possible that Butler could very easily have gotten a lot of her ideas from BPD (which would make sense because it wasn’t until the late 80’s that it became more prevalent in society and the story was written in 1987).

In analysis of the characters, you can easily see their behaviors and characterize them as having something similar to BPD.  The issue of control here is the author‘s biggest statement.  There are two main levels of control in life; the control of the self and the control of everyone else.  The way that the DGD’s participate in self mutilation is described as them scratching and tearing away at themselves as if trying to relieve themselves from their own bodies.  They are trapped within their own persona which is then trapped by the reality of everyone else (society, Beatrice, Lynn, the wards etc.).  Their depressive switch of when they drift is a very bi-polar trait that often associates with BPD in that they switch from seeing things logically enough to do things such as having children or even just work on a clay project, to committing murder and suicide.  The lives of these people are compared to the lives of bees.  Alan has issues with being controlled by the queen and being turned into nothing but a drone so he chooses to fight it.  In turn, this may lead to his detrimental depressive episode which like many other DGD’s leads to suicide.  When they find out that Dilg is a place where, while people aren’t self mutilating, they are being controlled without their knowledge.  The idea that he isn’t actually choosing to be calm, but rather that by Lynn personally interacting with him he is calmed and more at peace than ever, shows that we are never really in control of ourselves because we are not the only ones in our lives.  Butler is making the statement that living within ourselves is what leads to our detriment.  Being trapped within ourselves whether it’s coming out as being homosexual, having paranoia and mental health issues, or just not being understood by everyone else is what drives us crazy.  They never say why the DGD’s commit suicide and murder, but we do know that they are looked at differently and misunderstood.  One could guess that the reason that they only live to a young age is because they aren’t understood and are living only within themselves.  The reason that people in Dilg are stable is because they feel like can relate to someone like Beatrice or as revealed, Lynn.  The title correlates with the whole idea of this as well.  The self is the only thing that is there in the evening, the morning and the night; it is the only thing that is always there and never leaves unless the body leaves it in death.

Additional information outside of my knowledge was obtained at the following website: