Dawn Summary and Analysis of "Family" Part 2


Lilith wakes up after Nikanj's procedure feeling a little dazed but normal. For a while, she is alone in her room, and she wonders what Nikanj has done to her. When Nikanj enters, its tentacles are smooth. It tells Lilith that she is so complex—it can understand why so many Oankali are obsessed with human kind. It runs its tentacles over Lilith's skull and explains that it is checking that she is alright. Lilith asks Nikanj what it did to her, because she cannot tell. Nikanj responds that they are talking to each other in Oankali. Lilith realizes that the language seems as natural to her as English. Lilith thinks about it and is "alarmed, pleased, and frightened" about her new fluency in the Oankali language (79). Nikanj says that it is glad its family placed it together with Lilith and reveals that it was initially scared to be paired with her. It worried that Lilith would hate it, which Nikanj would never have wanted. Lilith responds that Kahguyaht seemingly does not have a problem with being hated, and Nikanj tells her that they have different outlooks when it comes to trade-partner species. Nikanj is happy—the procedure has gone smoothly and now it can go be with its mates, Ahajas and Dichaan. Nikanj reveals to Lilith that she will go with it when it leaves its home. It also asks her if she will help it with its final metamorphosis. The metamorphosis will be difficult for Ninkaj and it will need others around it. Lilith agrees to support Nikanj through its change. Nikanj is relieved. It tells Lilith that it will try to find an English-speaking human for her to meet; Kahguyaht will no longer disapprove of her meeting one now.

Lilith waits while Nikanj and Kajguyaht interview English-speaking humans for her to meet. Eventually, they choose an English-speaking male who has decided to spend the rest of his life aboard the ship. He is about Lilith's age, but he was Awakened young and kept awake. Lilith wonders what choice the man had in the decision back when he was so young. She rides in an Oankali vehicle with Nikanj to get to him for about half an hour. After they get off the vehicle, Nikanj sends it away, telling Lilith that she might want to stay with this man for a while. Lilith suddenly feels apprehensive—she does not know this man and how he might have been "divorced from his humanity" over the years. Nikanj tells Lilith that the vehicle they were riding is actually an animal called tilio. Nikanj also tells her that the man's name is Paul Titus. When Paul Titus opens the wall, Lilith is overwhelmed at the sight of another human being. She introduces herself to him and he invites them in. Nikanj sets up on a platform and stays silent. It is clear to Lilith that it is just there to observe. Lilith sits so that her back is to Nikanj and she can give Paul Titus her full attention. She asks him abruptly why he decided to stay among the Oankali. Paul tells her that there is nothing waiting for him on Earth. He saw the dead bodies of his family members before the Oankali rescued him. Neither Paul nor Lilith remember their extraction from Earth. Nikanj rouses itself to tell them that they had to wipe that memory from the humans' brains because those who kept it were too hard to control.

Paul asks Lilith what she did with her life back on Earth, and she tells him that she had gone back to school to study anthropology. Lilith tells Paul that she is from Los Angeles and he tells her that he is from Denver. When the nuclear war happened, he and his family were in the Grand Canyon. His entire family froze to death due to the nuclear winter. Lilith says that she was in Peru, hiking Machu Picchu. Lilith thinks about it and realizes that the Oankali must have taken a lot of people out of the southern hemisphere, where the nuclear winter was not as intense. Paul muses that he is technically older than Lilith even though the Oankali picked him up when he was just fourteen. Lilith turns to ask Nikanj how many people were extracted from the Southern Hemisphere and sees that Nikanj is gone. Paul tells her that it left a couple of minutes ago but that it will come back. It also tells Lilith that she shouldn't worry—the Oankali have changed his body chemistry and now he has the ability to open walls and get her food if she needs. Lilith feels uneasy at the idea of being left alone with this man who had the ability to open walls as he chooses—she could end up his prisoner. Lilith and Paul assume that the Oankali are watching them. Paul suggests that Nikanj thought they would be inhibited with it in the room. Lilith does not like the suggestion behind this comment. Paul tells Lilith that even though he knows the ooloi have their own gender, he can't help but think of them as male or female. He tells her that once the ooloi's arms grow in, they "'let everyone know who's in charge'" (88). Lilith tells Paul that Nikanj wants her to help it through its metamorphosis. Paul tells Lilith that it will put Nikanj in debt to her and maybe it will change her so that she herself can open walls. Paul stands up and opens a wall to reveal a pantry. He takes out sandwiches, a pie, and french fries from inside. Lilith is shocked at the food and takes some when he offers it to her. The french fries are actually made out of cassava—Lilith tells Paul that when they return to Earth they will be able to turn cassava into a flour. Paul asks her if she is really prepared to return to the Stone Age on Earth. He prompts her to think about the pain of childbirth in a jungle where there are no hospitals. Lilith responds that she had a natural childbirth with no painkillers. This causes Paul to laugh. He tells her that she is probably just what the Oankali want for this mission.

Paul repeats that he does not understand why she would want to return to Earth and be a cavewoman. She says that the Oankali won't take away their knowledge and that the humans will be able to work together to make advancements. Paul tells her that what the Oankali give them is not for free. Lilith and the other humans will have to pay for the Oankali's assistance with the eventual annihilation of the human race. Lilith says that she does not believe it has to be like that which causes Paul to look at her with pity. He tells her that she hasn't been Awake long enough to truly understand. Paul tells her that if she wanted they would let her stay with him. She flat-out refuses. He tells her that the Oankali expect her to say no to Paul; this is a test to make sure that they have chosen the right person to lead humans back to Earth. He gets close to Lilith and she realizes that she is afraid of him. He urges her to surprise the Oankali and stay with him aboard the ship. He puts a hand on her shoulders and grips them painfully. Paul tells her that she would be safe with him. She has no guarantees for how long she will be safe from violence at the hands of the other humans on Earth. Lilith realizes that Paul has a point about the violence that might be waiting for her back on Earth.

Paul stands and kisses her. She kisses him back before pulling away. She tells him that she is not interested in "'putting on a show for the Oankali'" (92). Paul tells her it makes no difference—it's not like human beings are watching them. Besides, the Oankali will always be watching. Lilith refuses again, saying that she does not intend to give birth on the ship. Paul tells her that she probably already has: the Oankali made more humans while the humans they rescued from Earth slept. Paul tells her that he has seventy kids that he has never seen. Lilith pities and fears Paul. She does not want to be with him any longer. She thinks that there is no use in fighting physically with him because he is much larger than her. Paul goes to unfasten Lilith's jacket and she tries to push him away. He gets her jacket off and moves towards her pants. Lilith keeps trying to shove him away; Paul stumbles backwards for a second before charging at her again. Lilith screams and tries to escape Paul. She goads him, saying that maybe the Oankali forced him to mate with his sister or mother. This upsets Paul and she hits her, sending her flying across the room. He tells her that the Oankali had told him that he would be allowed to mate with her before kicking her in the head and causing her to black out.

Lilith wakes up back at home. Nikanj and Kahguyaht are talking softly in her room. Nikanj tells Kahguyaht to leave them alone, and Lilith takes note of the aching in her body. Nikanj tells her that her body is healing and the pain will be gone soon. It tells Lilith that it did not know how Paul would behave and assures her that he had never lost control before. Lilith tells Nikanj that the way Paul behaved was understandable because he has spent so many years cut off from his own kind. Nikanj does not understand what Lilith means and protests that Paul's Oankali family has been good to him. It tells Lilith that Paul's family had expected Lilith to have sex with Paul at least once. Lilith says that she would have gotten pregnant. Nikanj tells Lilith that she would not have gotten pregnant because it is not yet her time to have children. Lilith asks him in horror, "'Have you done something to me? Am I sterile?'" (96). Nikanj tells her that the procedure was done while she slept and will be reversed eventually. Lilith asks Nikanj if Paul really has over seventy children. Nikanj confirms what Paul said and tells her that the Toaht (the group of Oankali who are going to stay aboard the ship) are in desperate need for humans to conduct the gene trade with. Nikanj expresses regret at the fact that the Oankali told Paul about his progeny. It tells Lilith that she discovered one of Paul's fears—that the Oankali inseminated one of his family members with his sperm. Lilith asks if the same thing will be done to her. Nikanj tells her that the Toaht have an imprint of her and that millennia after her death her body might be reborn aboard the ship. They did not clone Lilith; rather, they preserved her genetic memory, called a "gene map" which they can use to reconstruct her down the line.

Nikanj touches Lilith's aching arm with its tentacles and asks her if she really should have known that. Her arm hurts sharply for a moment and then all her pain is gone. It tells her that it will take care of the rest of her pain while she sleeps. It tells her that she had a bone broken in her wrist which will heal completely while she sleeps. Nikanj asks Lilith again whether she really needed to know about the gene map of her that is out there. She tells it that because it concerns her, yes, she did need to know. Nikanj tells her that it will remember that and Lilith feels like she has finally communicated something important to Nikanj. Before Nikanj puts Lilith to sleep, she asks it what happened to Paul. Nikanj tells Lilith that Paul is sleeping and will be sleeping for about a year or more in order to heal his nonphysical wounds. After Lilith left, he was enraged and began attacking members of his family. Nikanj tells Lilith that his family will be waiting for him when he Awakes. Lilith disagrees that the Oankali are his family and argues that the humans that live among the Oankali do not have true family bonds. Lilith tells Nikanj that Paul does not have anyone to teach him how to be a man and he certainly cannot be an Oankali. Nikanj reminds Lilith that Paul hurt her. Lilith tells it that Paul was simply doing what the Oankali set him up to do and Nikanj cannot disagree. She feels Nikanj prick the back of her neck and begs it to put her back into deep sleep again.

When Lilith wakes up, she sees Nikanj sleeping next to her. She goes to the bathroom and showers, noticing that her body smells oddly sour. When she emerges, Nikanj tells her that she can now open doors and teaches her how to do so. Lilith can also now get food whenever she likes by opening the pantry on her own. She is not given the ability to move freely through the entire ship, but their entire living quarters are open to her now. Nikanj tells Lilith that it did this for her because it was unable to put her back into a deep sleep. Nikanj lays back on the bed and begins to vibrate, as if in pain. At first, Lilith does not react to its movements and instead goes out in search of food. She intends to take it outside and eat it beneath a pseudotree. Instead, she takes extra food out of the pantry and brings it to Nikanj, who is still trembling on the bed. It tells her that its sensory arms are growing in and it is unable to move. She feeds it an orange and notices that she must care about Nikanj because she came back to help it despite her new freedom. Nikanj tells Lilith that it is not in pain; the closest human emotional equivalent would be "sexually aroused" (103). Nikanj tells Lilith that the ship has already notified its parents that its metamorphosis has begun. It asks Lilith to stay with it during this process and Lilith agrees. It warns Lilith that sometimes it will be sleeping so deeply that it will be unable to pay attention to Lilith. Finally, Nikanj tells Lilith to help carry its body to its mates' house when the time comes.

Lilith and Nikanj leave its childhood home. Nikanj's mates, Ahajas and Dichaan, assist Lilith with the transition—they carry Nikanj out of the home together. Lilith does not feel ready to leave Jdhaya's home, where she has grown comfortable. Lilith is going to live with Ahajas and Dichaan in their home while Nikanj matures over the course of several months. Tediin and Jdhaya say goodbye to Lilith. Lilith tells Tediin that she wishes she could stay with them, but she also must admit that she has grown close with Nikanj and would not like to be separated from it. Kahguyaht does not say goodbye to Lilith because it is the only one of Nikanj's parents who will be able to visit Nikanj in their new home. It comes to visit a few days later. To Lilith's surprise, Kahguyaht brings Lilith writing materials and several books. It also is more easygoing with Lilith. Lilith assumes this change in behavior is because she has proven her seriousness in taking care of Nikanj. Lilith welcomes Kahguyaht's visits as they are a change from the boredom of watching over Nikanj, who is sleeping so deeply he seems like a part of the room. On one of these visits, Lilith asks Kahguyaht about its sensory hand which is hidden within its sensory arms. Kahguyaht shows Lilith its sensory hand, which to Lilith looks like a starfish. It emits an odor that Lilith does not like. Kahguyaht tells Lilith that she does not like the odor because she is not bonded with Kahguyaht; however, once she has bonded more deeply with Nikanj, that will change. Lilith says that she did not know she was meant to bond in that way with Nikanj, and Kahguyaht responds that Nikanj should have told her. Because Nikanj has performed procedures on Lilith, it has left its mark. This mark will make Lilith want to avoid other Oankali who are not part of her new family group. Kahguyaht tells Lilith that her body will tell her what to do. Kahguyaht tells Lilith that it did not want to accept her at first but that she has proven herself. It now believes that Lilith will perform her upcoming duties well. Finally, it tells Lilith that her children will understand the Oankali, but she never will.


Lilith acclimates to living among the Oankali in the second half of "Family." She begins to understand the Oankali way of life and, though she is still an outsider, begins to move with more ease through their world. The largest development that helps Lilith with this process is the procedure that Nikanj performed on her at the end of the previous section. When Lilith awakes, at first she does not realize that anything is different. However, she suddenly realizes that there is no longer a language barrier between her and Nikanj: "It dawned on her slowly that Nikanj had come to her speaking Oankali and she had responded in kind—had responded without really thinking. The language seemed natural to her, as easy to understand as English" (79). Lilith realizes that Nikanj's procedure has improved her memory to such an extent that "now she remembered every day that she had been awake" (82). Later, Lilith will also be given the ability to open walls in her own home when Nikanj alters her body chemistry a bit more. Every single one of these procedures is done without her explicit consent—even though she does agree to the memory procedure, she does not know exactly what it will do to her. The Oankali seem to believe that they are free to make any changes they deem "for the greater good" no matter what the being they are operating on thinks or feels about it.

The theme of agency, which is closely linked to the theme of consent, appears multiple times in the second half of "Family." For a person to have agency, they must be able to act independently and make their own choices. For Lilith and other humans aboard the Oankali ship, their agency is incredibly limited and, at times, removed completely. For example, when it comes to the procedure that will alter her memory, Lilith is only given two limited choices: let Nikanj perform the procedure or wait until Kahguyaht surprises her with it at a later date. For Lilith, this is not a real choice and instead constitutes "coercion" (80). Lilith understands that even though the Oankali present this kind of situation as a "choice," Lilith's true desires—to be left alone—are not an option. When she is told that Paul lives aboard the ship and has chosen to stay among the Oankali rather than return to Earth, she already knows that Paul's choice probably was not a true choice at all: "What kind of choice had they given him? Probably the same kind they had given her, and he had been years younger" (81). Additionally, the Oankali knows each human aboard their ship intimately. They have studied these individuals closely, going so far as to look at their genetic structure and DNA. As Paul warns Lilith, this gives the Oankali the power to affect their decision-making capacities: "'they know how to change your mind'" (91).

Because of her lack of agency, Lilith has reason to fear that the Oankali have performed procedures on her body while she was asleep. In fact, in this section, she learns that they have done something to her reproductive system that will keep her from getting pregnant. Nikanj tells her that the procedure "'was done while you slept, as it was done to all the humans at first'" (96). The Oankali will reverse it eventually, when they deem Lilith capable and ready to give birth. Her own decision does not seem to have any influence over this timeline. Perhaps most concerning is the fact that the Oankali have erased the memory of being taken to the ship from every human's mind. Nikanj reveals to Lilith that they "had" to erase these memories because they made humans too volatile: "'Humans who were allowed to remember their rescue became uncontrollable. Some died in spite of our care'" (85). Lilith, and readers, are left wondering: what other information are they in the dark about, simply because the Oankali deem it too dangerous? How else have the Oankali intervened in their minds?

Lilith understands that she has been fundamentally changed by the Oankali. When she learns about Paul Titus, she also worries that he has been changed by them as well. She wonders, "[w]hat was he now? What had they created from their human raw material?" (83). The mutations that Lilith has undergone up to this point in the text make her an alien to herself. This is most apparent when she showers after Nikanj heals her after her encounter with Paul Titus and she smells foreign to herself: "Trying not to think, she bathed, worked to scrub off an odd, sour smell that her body had acquired" (100). Through this procedure, Lilith has been changed even further by the Oankali. She is a different being than the one they found on Earth—in ways that she knows and ways that she does not. Lilith herself has become a hybrid being, no longer completely human. Later, in "Nursery," these changes will cause a rift between Lilith and the other humans on the ship. They will see her Oankali-given abilities and believe that she is less than human.

Throughout this section, Lilith disapproves of the way that Oankali treat humans. While changing other species to fit Oankali purposes seems a natural way of life for the Oankali, Lilith sees the horror in these genetic "trades." When she learns that the Oankali vehicles are actually animals called tillios that have been redesigned to suit Oankali purposes, she is disgusted. She asks Nikanj, "'do you ever build machinery? Tamper with metal and plastic instead of living things?'" (83). Nikanj's answer frustrates her even more: "'We do that when we have to. We. . . don't like it. There's no trade'" (82). The Oankali take ownership over other lifeforms simply because they have the power to do so. Lilith begins to understand that they treat other species the same way that humans treated animals on Earth: "'Animals get treated like this. Put a stallion and a mare together until they mate, then send them back to their owners. What do they care? They're just animals!'" (93). The Oankali seem to disagree with each other as to how to treat other species. Nikanj likes to give humans the semblance of a choice when it comes to her own body. Other Oankali, such as Kahguyaht, disagree. Nikanj tells Lilith, "'Ooan says humans—any new trade partner species—can't be treated the way we must treat each other'" (80). In this way, humans and other species are inherently "less than" the Oankali. Because of their status, the Oankali's purposes always reign supreme. Even though Paul and Lilith disagree on many things, they do agree on the fact that the Oankali are not helping humanity out of a sense of altruistic kindness. Paul warns Lilith, "'They don't teach for free! They didn't save us out of kindness! It's all a trade with them'" (90). The "price" is the ultimate obliteration of humanity: "'When they're finished with us there won't be any real human beings left. Not here. Not on the ground. What the bombs started, they'll finish'" (90).

As Lilith changes, the way that the Oankali treat her begins to shift as well. As "Family" progresses, the Oankali give her more privileges. By the end of the section, she can open doors within her home at will. This gives her the ability to roam relatively freely throughout the ship and serve herself food whenever she is hungry. Additionally, Nikanj gives Lilith the task of taking care of it as it goes through sexual maturity. It tells Lilith, "'when I go to Ajahas and Dichaan, it will be to mate—and you'll go with me. We'll send you to your work when you're ready. And you'll be able to help me through my final metamorphosis'" (80). Additionally, Nikanj seemingly gives Lilith a reward for accepting the procedure which improves her memory. It tells her, "'I'll try to find an English-speaking human for you. One as much like you as possible. Ooan will not stand in the way of your meeting one now'" (82). As Nikanj's statement suggests, something has seemingly changed about Lilith that gives her more freedom aboard the Oankali ship. According to Paul, what changed is Lilith's apparent willingness to mate with and take care of Nikanj. He tells her that helping Nikanj through this process will change how the Oankali treat her: "'[It] puts them in debt to you, though. Not a bad idea to have someone powerful in debt to you. It proves you can be trusted, too. They'll be grateful and you'll be a lot freer'" (88). Finally, as Nikanj undergoes its metamorphosis, Kahguyaht surprisingly gives Lilith tools for writing and books to read. This is a reversal of the previous Oankali refusal to allow her to read and write. This final gift "surprises" Lilith, but she does not feel significantly freer than she did before (101). In fact, she still feels just as limited and powerless by the end of "Family." In response to the ability to open walls, she muses: "So she could be trusted out alone again, she thought bitterly. And within the quarters, she could be depended on not to do the local equivalent of spilling the drain-cleaner or starting a fire. She could even be trusted not to annoy the neighbors. Now she could keep herself occupied until someone decided it was time to send her off to the work she did not want and could not do" (101). In the end, Lilith is still aboard the Oankali ship against her wishes and will still be forced to submit to their larger plan.

Lilith's interaction with Paul Titus is notable for several reasons. We are led to believe that her reunion with another human being will be an ecstatic and joyful affair. Lilith looks forward to this meeting because she is looking for solidarity and comfort in this stressful and scary alien world. However, she is also apprehensive because she cannot understand why he would choose to stay and live among the Oankali. For Lilith, this decision suggests that he is "thoroughly . . . divorced from his humanity" and "who knew what else he might be willing to do" as a result (83). When they first see each other, Lilith is not overwhelmed by feelings of recognition. Instead, she is taken aback by his foreignness: "A human being—tall, stocky, as dark as she was, clean shaven. He looked wrong to her at first—alien and strange, yet familiar, compelling" (84). In the end, seeing Paul is an ecstatic experience for Lilith who sees him as "beautiful" and a "miracle" (84). Like Lilith, the Oankali have changed Paul's body chemistry, which gives him the ability to open walls on his own. He is also a Black American.

Despite their similarities, Lilith soon discovers that Paul Titus is a violent person who does not seem to hesitate at the thought of doing her harm. His Oankali family has assured him that Lilith would want to "mate" with him. When she turns down his sexual advances, he gets angry and begins to hit her. Lilith describes his demeanor: "He kept coming, too far gone to care what she said. He actually seemed to be enjoying himself. He cut her off from the bed by coming over it himself. He cornered her against a wall" (94). Lilith has to fight him off physically and taunt him verbally in order for him not to rape her. Before this happens, Paul demonstrates that he understands the wrongness of this kind of assault. He warns her about the men she will be surrounded with when she returns to Earth: "'Some of them will want to be cavemen—drag you around, put you in a harem, beat the shit out of you'" (92). In the end, she feels alienated from Paul even further and wants to return to Nikanj's home. This thought saddens her: "The first human being she had seen in years and all she could do was long to be away from him" (93).

Lilith comes up with her own explanation for why Paul treats her violently. First, she blames Paul's Oankali family that made promises to him about her sexual availability without asking Lilith herself. Later, she tells Nikanj that Paul acted that way because the Oankali have "'cut him off from his own kind'" (95). In other words, Paul's separation from other humans has caused this violence within him. His emotional maturity has been stunted because he has been aboard the ship. She accuses Nikanj: "'In some ways you kept him fourteen all those years'" (96). Lilith's reaction begs the question: is Paul's separation from the human race really to blame for his violence? Sexual assault is a pressing problem on Earth, as it was in Butler's day. Additionally, as we will see in the coming section, Paul's violence against Lilith is not an isolated incident. In fact, there will be multiple instances of gender-based sexual violence in "Nursery" and "Training Floor." Butler's depiction of humans as violent beings that went so far as to kill off their own race suggests that humanity has always been violent and brutal—they did not change when they came into contact with the Oankali. Perhaps, then, Paul acts violently towards Lilith not because he is aboard the ship but simply because he is a human man.

Paul's violence against Lilith speaks to an underlying question throughout Dawn: does gender determine behavior? As Lilith learns more about Oankali life, she realizes that different genders seem to have different roles. In particular, the ooloi seem to have more power, even though the Oankali claim they are not hierarchical. Lilith herself wonders how Nikanj will change after it goes through sexual maturity: "She wondered what it would look like with its second pair of arms, what it would be like as a mature being. More like Kahguyaht? Or maybe more like Jdhaya and Tediin. How much did sex determine personality among the Oankali?" (81). She admits, however, that this is a hard question to ask, even when thinking about humans: "She shook her head. Stupid question. She did not know how much sex determined personality even among human beings" (81). Paul seems to have a different interpretation of gender and behavior than Lilith. Despite the fact that he has been living among the Oankali for a long time, he does not refer to the ooloi as "it" and instead use "him" or "her" according to that ooloi's personality. When he refers to Nikanj as a "he," Lilith corrects him: "'Nikanj isn't male. . . It's ooloi'" (87). Paul responds that Nikanj "'seem[s] male'" and that gendering the ooloi as male or female is a habit of his: "'When they woke me up, I thought the ooloi acted like men and women while the males and females acted like eunuchs. I never really lost the habit of thinking of the ooloi as male or female'" (87). Lilith thinks that Paul's way of thinking is senseless, explaining that she has "'taken their word for what they are'" (87). Nevertheless, she does seem to hold on to a sense of predetermined gender roles. She believes that Paul acted the way he did when he was alone with her because "'he has no one to teach him to be a man'" among the Oankali (99). Ultimately, it seems like characters in Butler's world understand a direct link between gender and behavior, human and Oankali alike. This is why, at the end of "Family," Kahguyaht reveals to Lilith that it used to believe that a man would be more appropriate for Lilith's upcoming role: "'I didn't want to accept you, Lilith. Not for Nikanj or for the work you'll do. I believed that because of the way human genetics were expressed in culture, a human male should be chosen to parent the first group. I think now I was wrong" (110). Interestingly, even though in our culture women are more easily thought of as parents than men, the Oankali believe that characteristics that are more "male" would better serve a parent in this context. We will see in the next sections how Lilith rises to the occasion of "parenting" the group of Awakened humans on the ship.

In the second half of "Family," we have seen Lilith acclimate to the Oankali. She is changed several times by Nikanj and discovers other changes that they made to her body while she slept. She is also given more freedoms and privileges as she proves to Nikanj and its family that she can be trusted. She becomes something that is not quite human, resulting in her alienation from herself. Nikanj grows on Lilith, and she finds it easy to take care of it when it is going through puberty. Nevertheless, there is still a huge divide between Lilith and the Oankali. Humans and Oankali fundamentally do not understand each other. Lilith feels this difference even when it comes to Nikanj: "She stared at it, feeling more strongly than ever, the difference between them—the unbridgeable alienness of Nikanj. She could spend hours talking to it in its own language and fail to communicate" (96). At the end of "Family," Lilith warns Kahguyaht, "'[y]ou don't understand us as well as you think you do.'" Kahguyaht responds, "'and you don't understand us at all. You never will, really, though you'll be given much more information about us'" (111). It is on this note that Lilith will proceed to do work for the Oankali and play an important role in their scheme.