“ ‘I want you to remember,’ Doro said to her. ‘You’ve come to think I couldn’t touch you…”
“ ‘Bury that,’ Doro said to her from Thomas’ mouth. He gestured toward his own former body. She began to cry…”
“ ‘I have nothing to dig with,’ she whispered”
“ ‘Use your hands,’ he said” (159-60)
In this scene from book 2 chapter 8 of Wild Seed, Doro has snatched the body of Thomas—the poor vermin infested farmer that he ordered Anyanwu to live with to punish her. He killed Thomas because he realized that Anyanwu was healing more than Thomas’ body: she was repairing his belief in love. Doro is now aware that Anyanwu enjoyed living with Thomas, and that she was even pregnant by him, willingly. Thus, in order to chastise her further he took a patient from her in the midst of healing—something he had never done before—and ordered her to single handedly bury Doro’s old body.
This scene exposes Doro’s frustration and disdain for Anyanwu and his inability to break her spirit. Her ability to endure silently and carry out his orders without full commitment to him angers him. Until now, Doro had not been able to draw full emotion from Anyanwu and make her submit to him. He just discovered one of her weaknesses, the need to fully heal her patients.
Butler is writing about egotistic issues that surround relationships, in this case, Anyanwu and Doro’s relationship. She highlights how jealousy and the need for absolute control can overturn moral decisions.
• The Nature of Family in Wild Seed (pt 3)
• The Nature of Family in Wild Seed (pt. 2)
• Troubled Relationships in Wild Seed (pt 2)
• 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.