Pattern: The pattern I found was how the description and perception of the aliens switch between being not at all human to varying levels of humanness. And although at one point he was described as the literal embodiment of “unearthliness” his appearance was compared to earth sea creatures and at times he seems to be human barring his physical appearance.

  • “Now she was certain it was his alienness, his difference, his literal unearthliness” (Page 13)
  • “He could have been so much uglier than he was, so much less…human.” (Page 23)
  • “You seem too human sometimes. If I weren’t looking at you, I’d assume you were a man.” (Page 24)
  • This part is interesting to note that he appeared to her more human when his alien appearance was toned down. “He looked remarkably human now.” (Page 25)
  • “They were merely ugly. And they made him look even more like a misplaced sea creature.” (Page 28)

Hypothesis 1: The description of the Oankali’s difference as compared to the humans can in reality reflect the history of racial progression. Where if you weren’t a white European you would have been seen as scary, dangerous, unknown, different. The white Europeans would have been afraid to go near you or felt provoked at your appearance and attempt to harm, kill or chase you off.

Hypothesis 2: First, it would be good to note that in the story he talked about cross breeding as being a part of the trade where “Your people will change. Your young will be more like us and ours more like you” (Page 42) In the context of racial diversity and acceptance we can mark through history a progression of “us vs. them” to an acceptance of interracial relationships and racial equality. I could hypothesize that this book could continue this pattern of exposure to something totally different, education that different doesn’t always mean bad, acceptance and equality, then integration or interracial relations.