ENGL 431: Reflective Essay

Throughout the entirety of this semester the one person who made me begin to think about a lot of situations differently was Octavia Butler. Butler continued to amaze me throughout the semester since she made me think in different forms about truly being “independent”.  At the beginning of the semester, I thought that focusing on just one author was going to be boring and repetitive, but this class really proved me wrong. This class also honed in the ideas of being independent and overall make me think strategically about the course. Reading Butler was a way for me to overall change my course of action this semester, especially during a pandemic. I was able to truly understand the meaning of thinking deeply about a topic, through literature. I think the main topic I felt through both novels was adapting to change. The change that has occurred not only because of living through a pandemic as a college student, but also the metaphorical change of finding peace in literature, when the world is in complete chaos. 

The first part of Butler’s work that was interesting for me was the setup of her novel Lilith’s Brood. I felt as though separating the novel into three sections, caused me to think independently about each, and then see the overarching plot. One piece of the novel that I agreed with and saw myself drawing back to it, was Lilith trying to band everyone together, even though multiple groups were trying to tear her down. I think for me I kept thinking about my personal struggles, and how I kept defying all of them. How all of the choices I have made since being in college, overall have made me into an independent thinker, and how that has also been shown in my responses to anything occurring on campus. Butler’s portrayal of this character overall deepened my independent thinking and caused me to develop my own ideas about life throughout this semester. Developing my own ideas helped me focus on the central course questions for this course. 

The central course questions or epigraphs listed on the syllabus are, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not….Habit is persistence in practice. Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”–Octavia Butler, Furor Scribendi. “Learn and Run!”–Octavia Butler, Dawn. “I chose a spot near the river. There I prepared the seed to go into the ground. I gave it a thick, nutritious coating, then brought it out of my body through my right sensory hand. I planted it deep in the rich soil of the riverbank. Seconds after I had expelled it, I felt it begin the tiny positioning movements of independent life.” –Octavia Butler, Imago. I think one point that struck me at the beginning of the semester was habit is persistence in practice. 

Habits for me have always been a struggle, and I didn’t fully understand how to either break the bad ones or adapt the good ones to make them a habit to keep for the rest of my lifetime. Habits can bring and bind people together to achieve the central goal for this course. I think that one habit I gained from reading Butler this semester was to never give up. Lilith went through a difficult series of challenges, to be able to tackle every obstacle that the Ooloi tried to throw at her. Every detail that any character gave to her throughout this novel, made it easy for Lilith to just give up, and stop trying to fight this war.

“I felt it begin the tiny positioning movements of independent life”. This portion of the epigraph for this course brought me back to one of the reasons I decided to attend college in the first place. The independent moves I made in my life have shown me the habits that I needed to break and why. Throughout my three full years at Geneseo, I can’t say that I truly cared for other students more than I did in this class. While being a student in the middle of a pandemic has its challenges, it has shaped me even more into being an independent human, and how to adjust to chaos if needed. 

Care for me has always been evident in this course. The entire novel of From Here To Equity, is all about caring for the future generation and bringing them the knowledge to deal with almost anything that might come their way throughout life. Part 3 of this novel is titled Alternatives to War and Slavery, which is a nice title to show what else we can do when conflict arises. This can however also cause harm to society. Should anyone read some statements the wrong way, we might end up in a world like Lilith. 

“The aim of a substantive program of reparations is to produce a race-fair America instead of an America that is unable to acknowledge and confront persistent racial inequality” (pg 47). I think the quote talks about the harm that racism is bringing to our society and country as a whole. Recently multiple events have caused harm to black people. Wrongful deaths have been an issue for black people for as long as I can remember. The color of your skin should not be the reason for fear and chaos to roam around the country. The recent Black Lives Matter movement is evidence to me of who is causing harm in this country, and who is caring for everyone that they can. I think that is where this course really comes into play with this issue. In my opinion, the Ooloi is the harm and Lilith is the care that society needs to take over the world. Lilith’s Brood as a novel made me see that Butler cared for her audience. She wanted everyone to know that this novel is her caring for being joy and an overall adjustment to everyday life. Being able to build habits, and start to care for your society, is a main point Butler was trying to get across. 

I have overall been prepared to be changed from this course because of Butler’s choice words in her literature. I think overall the way that she told Lilith’s story really helped me change my outlook on all literature and what can be told throughout a series even if only mentioned once. “He did not argue. She resented his silence, but accepted it. He wanted to go that badly. His feeling that he was on Earth was that strong.” This quote from Dawn was one that meant a lot to me, since it reminded me of having to leave Geneseo at the end of Spring semester. I think that the habit of being changed from this course, is preparing me to leave the school entirely. If I had not been so engrossed in Butler’s literature I don’t think I would be saying the same things about it now. But, Butler was able to rope me into Lilth’s story and from there I was encapsulated by everything Butler mentioned. The story brought back a lot of mentions for me to think about in our society today, and I am forever grateful. This course has made me the woman I am today, and I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

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