“ ‘Husband, it may be a good thing that you’re going away. A year is not so long, or two years. Not to us. I have been alone before for many times that long. When you come back, I will know how to be a wife to you here. I will give you strong sons.’ She turned her eyes back to him, saw that he was watching her. ‘Do not cast me aside before I show you what a good wife I can be’” (115).In this scene from Octavia Butler's Wild Seed, Doro has just told Anyanwu that she must marry Isaac -- Doro’s son -- and she reveals that she is pregnant. She is pleading with Doro to change his mind about giving her to his son because she feels that it is an abomination. Doro only watches her with curiosity as she pleads to maintain her position as “his wife,” but he refuses to consider her petition.
The scene further implies that Anyanwu is a throwaway woman character in Doro’s life. Her position as a woman is to submit to his orders no matter how heinous, and obey. Her pleading reveals her lowered position in his eyes, as a woman to a man, a nurturing goddess to a spirit god. She attempts to use her supposed wifely duties to appeal to the masculine desire of wanting male children to convince Doro that she is worthy of being his partner.
Here, Butler is writing about gender roles and addressing the apparent lower status of women in patriarchal society. She draws attention to how a powerful woman becomes victimized by an equally powerful man.
• Troubled relationships in Wild Seed (pt 1)
• The Nature of Family in Wild Seed (pt1)
• A Notebook on Octavia Butler
Briana Whiteside is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.