Skip to main content


Part one of Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy, Dawn, explores complex ideas surrounding family structure, and confronts issues such as sexism, racism, and colonialism in a post-apocalyptic setting and model of the human body. Scholars consistently analyze these issues as dysfunctions in society, but personal accounts from Butler lead one to believe that part of the critical theory surrounding her work is less than representative of her initial intentions. In an interview with Stephen W. Potts, Butler remarks on the agitation surrounding critics who “attempt to interpret [her] subconscious”. She further emphasizes the role of being an African American woman and by what means these parts of herself “influence the theme and approach” of her writing. Close examination of Butler’s intentions in Dawn and the portrayal of Lilith’s character highlight the period in history, as an African American female author, experienced by Butler. A similar reflection of history and experience can be found in the depiction of Lilith and her relationship with the Oankali, before and after the humans are awakened. This essay will highlight Butler’s interpreted view of human interactions, and it will establish a significant connection between the infliction of shame and its hindrance of Lilith and women, specifically women of color, historically and presently.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
  • Event date
    • 26 March 2021

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Derek Thiess