Friday, March 21, 2014

Why Mary is one of my favorite characters from the Patternist Series

By Briana Whiteside

Mary from Octavia Butler’s Mind of My Mind is one of my favorite black women characters. She is sassy, sharp, beautiful and has ambition. Not to mention she has the ability and resolve to defeat Doro, the troubling leader/creator of the group of beings with special powers.

As an “experimental model,” Mary was often underestimated. Her “traffic light green eyes” and brown skin were results of the Anyanwu’s (now Emma) genes and the white body Doro was wearing when he impregnated her mother. The youngest of the Patternist women, Mary is undoubtly the strongest.

As “the Queen B” of a mental pattern of telepaths, Mary has the ability to create the superhuman beings that Doro hoped to develop. She can also repurpose the latents—the unsuccessful experiments—and usher them to go through transition so that they can develop their powers. Mary is “the completed version” of Doro, his female “twin” and with the pattern she is his superior.

In a battle between Mary and Doro, Butler writes, Doro “strained against the seemingly fragile thread…She consumed him slowly, drinking in his terror and his life, drawing out her own pleasure, and laughing through his soundless screams.” She defeats the spirit-man, her father, her creator and assumes this position as god.

A Notebook on Octavia Butler

Briana Whiteside is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.     

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