How does "Postmodern Blackness" by bell hooks help us understand Octavia Butler's work and the issues she explores? Please support your answer by quoting from hooks's "Postmodern Blackness" and Butler's "Bloodchild," Imago, and “The Evening and the Morning and the Night."

bells hooks’s “Postmodern Blackness” should help readers of Octavia Butler’s fiction better understand why her characters can possess intricate, confounding identities.

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With “Postmodern Blackness,” bell hooks can help readers understand the fiction of Octavia Butler because hooks sees postmodernism as a means to address the suffering of disparate identities. As hooks says:

Radical postmodernism calls attention to those sensibilities which are shared across the boundaries of class, gender, and race, and...

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With “Postmodern Blackness,” bell hooks can help readers understand the fiction of Octavia Butler because hooks sees postmodernism as a means to address the suffering of disparate identities. As hooks says:

Radical postmodernism calls attention to those sensibilities which are shared across the boundaries of class, gender, and race, and which could be fertile ground for the construction of empathy.

In Butler’s fiction—particularly in the works listed in the question—identity is not reduced to a single skin color, gender, or sexuality. In Butler's fiction, identity—and the marginalization that can be tied to it—manifests out of a complex network of forces.

For instance, Gan in “Bloodchild” experiences marginalization partly because he’s a Terran, but also because of his mother and because of his own choice not to shoot T’Gatoi. The same can be said of Jodahs in Imago. Jodahs is marginalized for a host of reasons, including its genetic makeup, its family, and, in a way, its own personal choices.

The intricate identities of Butler's characters reflect hooks’s belief that postmodernism can be “useful for African-Americans concerned with reformulating outmoded notions of identity.” In a sense, Butler puts hooks’s theory into practice. Butler’s fiction is full of characters that, in hooks’s words, “open up new possibilities for the construction of the self and the assertion of agency.”

In Imago, Butler shows how it’s possible for someone to assert their agency or their will without possessing a precise gender. In “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” Butler shows how a person burdened with a lethal identity trait can utilize their stigmatized identity to help others.

If the identities of Butler’s characters can be hard to fathom sometimes, hooks’s thoughts on postmodernism might help readers understand why. For hooks, to critically understand the suffering that’s happening in the current, postmodern landscape, one can’t focus solely on race, gender, or sexuality; they have to focus on race, gender, and sexuality in connection to an array of other issues and factors. It seems safe to argue that Butler’s characters confront these countless issues and factors.

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