Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts


Sabrina Foley 

Celebrity Women Singers of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Jenny Lind, Billie Holiday, and Janis Joplin

Human Desire for Power in Octavia Butlerís Works

Jenny Lind, Billie Holiday, and Janis Joplin pushed the limits of typical women of their days in the 19th and 20th centuries, and achieved varying levels of success in doing so. The three women differed from most women of their time; in their day, it was unlikely for most women to become famous and extremely wealthy singers. Jenny Lind maintained her status as a symbol of purity as an opera singer during the 1850s through 1890s, but she also eventually married and had children, taking the domestic path, as ordinary women did. Billie Holiday struggled as an African American woman and caused a scene when she was denied service at certain restaurants while touring. However, she shared in many unhealthy relationships, resulting in rebellious and dangerous behavior. Janis Joplin truly lived as a free spirit. She led the movement for womenís rights as a heroine and served as an icon for many women. These three women exemplified audacity and perseverance; they never gave up on their goals and their momentous accomplishments inspired women.

Jenny Lind, Billie Holiday, and Janis Joplin fought for more rights and more power for women, just as the humans in Octavia Butlerís science fiction trilogy battle with the non-humans over power. The Oankali aliens are in control of Lilith from the moment she wakes up on a strange alien planet knowing no one. Those in charge, the Oankali, want to help resolve mankindís problem, the Human Contradiction: the state of humans as both intelligent and hierarchical. However, Lilith and the later awakened humans cannot admit that they need this help, partly due to their fear of the Oankali, and partly due to their own pride. Later in the series, Lilith Iyapo, the protagonist of the Lilithís Brood trilogy, realizes that humans do have underlying issues and that she needs her ooloi, Nikanj, but she cannot admit this. The humans eventually revolt against the aliens and form their own community, completely separate from the aliens. This sparks the over-arching power struggle between humans and non-humans which is prevalent throughout Octavia Butlerís works, and the science fiction genre in general.

Major Works Consulted:

Butler, Octavia E. Dawn. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2007.
---. Fledgling. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2007.
Fagan, Eleanora and William F. Dufty. Lady Sings the Blues. New York: Harlem Moon, Broadway Books, 1984.
Joplin, Laura. Love, Janis. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.
Photo Credit: Katwiwa, Mwende. "Octavia Butler: Winnovating Science Fiction." Winnovating. N.p., 20 May 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016. .