Wild Seed (Octavia Butler Novel) - Themes - Post-Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism

Post-Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism

"Wild Seed" subverts several characteristics of Postcolonialism. Postcolonialism suggests that the world has entered a period in which colonization is no longer a reality. It also suggests that colonization ended within the same time frame for both the colonized and the colonizers. Doro is the embodiment of a colonizer. When Doro arrives to a seed village at the beginning of the novel he acknowledges that, "Slavers had been to it before him. With their guns and their greed, they had undone in a few hours the work of a thousand years." Doro has colonized the world with his seed villages thousands of years before Europeans could do the same. Moreover, Doro still operates seed villages and still selectively breeds his people well into the 1800s. Therefore, "Wild Seed" illustrates that colonialism is an ongoing process that does not have a set beginning or ending.

Postcolonialist theory also suggests that anti-colonial and Third World nationalist movements do not exist in the post-colonial era. Anyanwu is the metaphorical Third World in Butler's novel. She does not speak English when she first meets Doro, she maintains the traditions of her homeland, and she has no knowledge of advanced technology. Doro feels the need to civilize her when he brings her to the new world. He gets her to dress in new world styles and gets her to learn English and new world customs. Additionally, Doro uses her to breed children with supernatural powers. In the first half of the novel, Anyanwu is only useful to Doro because she can shape-shift and because her body can adapt to any poison and illness she subjects it to. In this way, Doro is exploiting her for her resources while forcing to act in a Western or "civilized" manner.

A characteristic of Neocolonialism is that Colonial powers continue to exploit the resources of their colonized counterpart for economic or political interests. "Wild Seed" exhibits neocolonialism in the relationship between Doro and Anyanwu and the relationship between Doro and his descendants. Doro uses Anyanwu's children in order to continue his exploitation of her supernatural abilities. He notes that "Her children would hold her even if her husband did not." Anyanwu does not want to endanger her children by attempting to escape or kill Doro. Even after she tries to start a new life on a plantation, he breeds with her to pass her supernatural abilities on to his children. He has a vested interest in her powers, and he refuses to let her go. Anyanwu's children face the same struggle when attempting to escape Doro. Doro threatens them with death in order to keep them under his control. He purposely creates villages for his people so that if they decide to leave they will be left with nothing. They rely on Doro for kinship and protection. In return, Doro uses them for his own gains.

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