The Power of Hope in Butler’s Fiction

In my Inspire Paper I wrote about hope and its great power to get us through almost anything. Butler’s fiction demonstrates that hope is the one emotion ingrained into the human brain that moves us forward and continues to unite us. Despite the more negative feelings of fear, loneliness, boredom, frustration, and suffering that oftentimes bring people together, it is the unceasing feeling of hope that we as a society carry in our hearts that allows us to overcome even the hardest of obstacles and creates a common purpose among the human characters in Lilith’s Brood. While in my paper I mainly discussed how the feeling of expectation inspires and keeps humans going, I decided to look at the importance of hope in Oankali society for this blog post.

Aaor is a wonderful example of this, since its lack of hope of finding mates clearly contributes to, if not causes, the self-destruction and dissolution of the lonely ooloi. Like with humans, “its life is terrible if it has nothing better to look forward to” (Imago 684). We witness how Aaor slowly retreats from society and degenerates back to its original state (a tiny sea creature), close to losing itself completely before Jodahs and its mates enable the lonesome ooloi to recover. Because of its sibling’s encouragement and affection, Aaor finds hope again and thereby reclaims its identity, and even more importantly, its will to live. Thus, hope (and a sense of belonging and being loved) is what saved Aaor from committing “suicide.”

Moreover, readers are also confronted with the fact that humans (as well as nonhumans) often are led by false hope. Tomas, for example, informs Jodahs and Jesusa of how much he hates his resister village because it is “full of pain and sickness and duty and false hope” (687). He is aware that human beings will never be able to live on Earth as they have before and rather will remain under the power of the Oankali (be it on Earth, Mars, or elsewhere). In this way, Tomas has given up the hope of the old world; however, he continues to hope for a treatment of his tumors and a more fulfilled life with Jodahs and Jesusa. Had he given up hope completely, he most likely wouldn’t have endured all the trials of the Oankali and the “loss” of humanity.

As Jodahs states toward the end of Imago, Aaor “survived only because of their combined efforts and its new hope of Human mates to bond with” (691). And I believe this could be said for the majority of characters in Butler’s fiction, since hope seems to be the greatest driving force in all of them, whether they are human or not.


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