Social Generals


The term I’ve coined as social general is loosely defined as anyone who feels their duty in life is to better humanity by righting social injustices. Octavia Butler emphasizes her social generals within Dawn. The Oankali have developed into social general’s, in which they save humans on Earth from their “suicide.” Social generals feel extreme self-fulfillment when they help those below them.

Although, within the text humans are described as intelligent but hierarchal, the Oankali emphasize their power over Lilith (39).  Also, Lilith notices the ooloi as the head of the house (48). The hierarchy within the Oankali goes as follows: ooloi, Oankali, then humans. The humans are the bottom of the class system due to the Oankali perception that humans are the ones who need help. Although, they are intelligent, they need to be under the guidance of the Oankali to use their intelligence to the best of their ability. Social generals tend to see the people they help as beneath them because they do not have the same amount of abilities the social generals do. The Oankali treat Lilith as an “experimental animal” to advance their own people (60). Which brings on the is the help the Oankali are overseeing over the humans really to help them or to advance their own people through the perks of the genes of humans. Lilith expresses the Oankali “planned to use her as a Judas goat. And they had done it all so softly, without brutality, and with patience and gentleness so corrosive of any resolve on her part” (67). Lilith’s disgust with the Oankali stems from classic colonialism, where colonists come and take “savages” and infringe their culture on them, without understanding why the colonized are not getting the information being told to them. The Oankali are doing the same thing to humans. They infringe their culture repeatedly on Lilith, however, the culture they are infringing on her is not too different from our own. The concept of the Onakali’s ship as being living, and feeding it is not new. The Earth can be viewed in the same way, just without the opening of portals etc. The Oankali and Lilith both encompass the same characteristics of intelligent and hierarchy, but the Oankali claim a higher position to the humans because they are social generals.

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