Pattern: Humans are unable to conquer their fears of what is new and different, even in the face of the Oankali being the only beings that can save humanity from it’s impending extinction, and the Earth from it’s eventual destruction.
Example 1: “ I don’t understand why I’m so… afraid of you. Of the way you look, I mean. You’re not that different. There are- were- life forms on Earth that looked a little like you.”
Example 2: “She tried to imagine herself surrounded by beings like him and was suddenly overwhelmed by panic. As though she had suddenly developed a phobia- something she had never before experienced. But she felt was like what she had heard others describe. A true xenophobia- and apparently she was not alone in it.”
Hypothesis 1: Humanity is doomed to always be unable to conquer their ingrained fear of things that they view as otherworldly. The Oankali are creatures that are not of the Earth, and thus to the human mind they are wrong, even perverse. Unable to be viewed as anything more than some sort of nightmare creatures that are better kept in the realm of the fantastic. The human mind cannot seem to accept such a race into it’s world, even if they offer the only possible salvation to be had in a bleak and desolate future in which humanity and world on which it dwells is doomed to be destroyed and forgotten. It is a dark forecast of the human condition that even in our greatest hour of need we are unable to look past the surface and embrace what is new so that we all may be redeemed and strive forward into a new future, together with the Oankali. A future that is the only option without destruction.
Hypothesis 2: Lilith, and by extension, humanity is beginning t come to terms with the possibility of a joint future, shared with the Oankali; even if it means leaving behind their humanity if it means the survival of some semblance of the species. It is a long and arduous process, one wrought with many setbacks and relapses, but Lilith’s coming to terms with the Oankali’s appearance, albeit very gradually, symbolizes humanity’s will to live and ability to eventually look past what is different in recognition of the great opportunity for survival that is being offered. The Oankali may look different, and have different ways than us, but this does not altogether make them evil or bad. Instead they offer a new way of looking at the Earth and the Universe in which we live. Moreover they are a chance for survival that humanity would not have otherwise had.