“She thought there could be nothing more seductive than an ooloi speaking in that particular tone, making that particular suggestion. She realized she had stood up without meaning to and taken a step toward the bed.” … “She did not pretend outwardly or to herself that she would resist Nikanj’s invitation — or that she wanted to resist it.”
So this somewhat creepy passage shows a large shift in Lilith’s attitude toward the Oankali. An suggestion she once thought of as grotesque and deplorable, she now considers seductive. Not to mention, this is sort of rape-ey because Joseph is asleep and drugged. There was a big part of this book missing; at one point Nikanj is sleeping, Lilith by its side, and the next, Lilith is in a big room preparing to Awake humans, after having trained in their “forest” and lived with Oankali for another year. We don’t really know of every interaction or modification she underwent during that year, but this passage is hugely indicative of the attitude shift she has had. To me, she is less human than she thinks. It seems like these alien ideas are becoming addictive, or like a habit she can’t kick and doesn’t want to. And she even knows it’s vulgar! A few paragraphs later, “she tore off her jacket and seized the ugly, ugly elephant’s trunk of an organ, letting it coil around her…” The imagery in that sentence and the meaning behind it is goose-bump inducing. I’m not sure where this is all going but it seems like she has entirely accepted her fate, even though she still thinks to herself that they will learn to live, then escape on Earth. Weird stuff here.
For me, this has been the most interesting book in class so far. I am excited to see how the plot pans out because I can’t even begin to guess at the Oankali’s true motives. There have been a few themes throughout the first 100 pages but I think one that is most prevalent is this idea of imprisonment. We know now that the humans have been captive for a long time while the alien race fixes earth to make it inhabitable again. Once Lilith is Awoken for good, she is given a false sense of freedom. She is made to feel like a part of the family, all the while she is just a pet. After learning (and often guessing) about the Oankali’s intentions she begins to feel like one of earth’s animals who, once endangered, was captivated, breed, modified and otherwise controlled entirely by another species. Their intentions to preserve a species seem good, and given how gently the Oankali treat humans, their intentions seem decent too. But despite this, she is still just a well-treated prisoner and we have yet to see what this “trade” is that they keep referring to. We shall see where this theme leads us. All I know is what I will be doing this summer… finishing this series!
There was a particularly interesting message coming across on page 121 from the conversation between Baley and Dr. Fastolfe. It is this conversation that we are first enlightened about the Spacers’ true intentions on Earth. Here, Fastolfe explains the Spacers’ concern for the fragility of Earth’s equilibrium, as well as their desire to find a way to help earthmen. It is the ongoing theme of imprisonment that arises here, as Fastolfe and Baley debate the possibility of earthmen emigrating to new worlds. It is as though the earthmen have an ignorant acceptance of their “imprisoning caves of steel.” They go about their lives eating rationed, government developed foods, sharing small government allotted living spaces, obeying the rules of hierarchy set forth by the Cities, and literally fearing the “outside.” They are even blind to the help the Spacers and robots are trying to give them (which is not entirely their fault, as the Spacers didn’t exactly explain the purpose of Spacetown to Earthmen), and won’t even consider the idea of going into space.
This imprisonment characteristic is one that contrasts our world in some aspects. We have an unyielding desire to explore further into space and deeper into the oceans/forests where as earthmen wouldn’t dare leave their safe City walls. Additionally, we live in a world of consumerism and materialism (at least in the U.S) where people constantly live outside of their means. The idea of rationing today would not be easily accepted, unless in legit situations like natural disasters, or maybe, war. Some people today might accept living in tiny government allotted housing. I mean, who hasn’t been or known someone who shared a little one-bedroom apartment with 4 people until they “made it big” in the city? But the overall desire, I think, is to move out of the city eventually and have a nice big house for your family. I think that although their world differs from ours greatly in some ways, it is not so far off that it couldn’t actually happen. Overtime though, our world’s ideals would have to change quite a bit for us to actually fear the outdoors or accept prison-like living.