Summary Of Marxist Reading Of Octavia Butler's Dawn
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Marxist Reading of Octavia Butler’s Dawn, Book One of the Xenogenesis Trilogy Butler’s novel is very complex and nuanced, with multiple themes and layers of meaning throughout the text. A particularly overarching theme is that of contradictions and contrasts. One way this manifests is as the ideological conflict between the the Oankali (the alien society in the story) human cultures, the former being quite similar to how Karl Marx envisioned the ideal society, (though neither he nor his ideology is ever actually mentioned in the story).
Marxism is often and rightly criticised for being impossible to truly implement in human society - it always devolves into an oppressive regime. However, for the Oankali, this system - that is, a classless society with no government and no oppression - appears to work very well. Because of this, on the surface, Butler’s story seems to simply reinforce Marxist ideals, but, as we will see, it actually both reinforces and undermines them. Butler skillfully shows both the pros and cons of Marxism and lets the reader make up his or her own mind.
While a Marxist - like system works very well for the aliens, they themselves do not think this (or any other system, for that matter) will work for the humans as they are. They assert that, “[human] bodies are fatally flawed” and “handicapped” because “[they] have a mismatched pair of genetic characteristics” which, without help, will destroy them (Part 1, ch. 5). What they mean is that, due