The Familiar and Wild Seed: The Bond Between Humans and Animals

The conclusion of The Familiar by Mark Z. Danielewski displays a powerful bond between humans and animals. The therapeutic relationship with animals is a theme shared with the novel Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler. Both Xanther and Anyanwu, who are controlled by something greater than themselves, find themselves comforted by the presence of animals. Xanther’s epilepsy keeps her on edge and anxious that she might have an attack at any moment. However, when she finds the cat which she can take care of, she experiences some serenity and is not overwhelmed with a cascade of questions. Instead, she finally feels that life is “answerable.” Similarly, Anyanwu finds herself controlled by Doro who forces her to adopt his lifestyle even if she does not agree with his practices, such as incest. Anyanwu is only able to evade his grasp by changing into an animal form. Also, when living with animals, she experiences a similar restoration as Xanther. This is demonstrated when she becomes despondent after the Margaret’s suicide and is told by Luisa to go back to the sea and live as a dolphin. After she does, she returns over a month later she feels and looks better. Both novels focus on the benefits of living harmoniously with animals.

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