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Final Thoughts on Wild Seed [Octavia Butler Book Club]

August 5th, 2011

Wild Seed Retro Cover

Next week, we will move on to the second book in the Patternist series, Mind of My Mind.

But first, let’s close out Wild Seed.

I found myself coming back to two main ideas after reading. (Spoilers ahead – but you should be keeping up with the reading.)

The first was a question for myself: How do I see the evolution of Doro and Anyanwu’s relationship? Was it ever anything besides a relationship predicated on how he could use her abilities? I label it abusive, but at the same time, there is something else there. It’s something close to a shared loneliness, but not fully. Kind of like the bond that passes between people who truly understand each other, yet are fundamentally different. As if Doro and Anyanwu are like magnets – repelling each other for most of the book, but still drawn to each other in the end. Then I would read over a chapter and hate Doro all over again. His views on morality may have made perfect sense to him – but they caused so many people pain. Can one ascribe humanity to a being such as Doro? If we can, we can wonder about his final reveal of vulnerability; if we can’t, then there is no use appealing to something that was never there to begin with.

Also, strangely, the Willie Lynch letter keeps surfacing in my mind. Despite having long been discredited (by multiple scholars at this point), the central question the false artifact purports to answer – “How do we create a slave?” – is a tantalizing one. Doro is a slave trader. Doro’s associates are slave traders. And he proves to be quite skilled at persuading others to submit to his control, through physical or psychological violence. Anyanwu’s final decision plays into that question as well. There are many times in the book where Anyanwu follows Doro’s orders, but her final submission felt different somehow. Again, if we look at this through the prism of humanity, and Doro’s expression of vulnerability as an expression of love, perhaps it is understandable. However, if we do not see Doro as human, it feels like Anyanwu submits, fully, to slavery. Did Doro create a slave? Or did Anyanwu choose to be one? Or did she chose something else entirely?

What are your thoughts, readers?

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Categories: Octavia Butler, Octavia Butler Book Club, Racialicious Reads, slavery, Wild Seed

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