Thursday, September 5, 2013

Troubled relationships in Wild Seed (pt 1)

By Briana Whiteside
"You’ll have Anyanwu too. I’ll share her with you. Later."
"When?" Issac did nothing to conceal his eagerness.
"Later, I said. This is a dangerous time for her. She’s leaving behind everything she’s ever known, and she has no clear idea what she’s exchanging it for. If we force too much on her now, she could kill herself before she’s been of any use to us” (61).
This scene is from chapter 4 of Wild Seed (1980), and it shows the true intentions of Doro towards Anyanwu. Anyanwu had abruptly left her home and followed Doro based on the promise that he would give her “children you [she] will never have to bury” (23). Traveling to the new land by ship—that resembles a slave ship and the Middle Passage—Doro reveals that once Anyanwu has served her purpose for him, he will pass her to his son Isaac.

This scene implies that Anyanwu is just another disposable character, or in fact, a commodity, in Doro’s hopes of creating a perfect colony. Her hopes of leaving and being married to Doro to have an everlasting family will be shattered when she learns that Doro has lured her away from Africa to breed her with other men. Issac is Doro’s perfect white son, whom he created through generations of careful breeding. Doro favors Isaac over any of his other children, and admits that he wants children of Issac’s and Anyanwu’s bodies no matter what.

Butler exposes the complexities between male and female relationships by presenting a character that gives away his lover to his son. It highlights the power dynamics of authority given to men over women, and questions social hierarchy. 

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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