Different Relationships with Animals

In The Familiar, we see Xanther experience a very mutualistic relationship with the kitten she saves. In other words, Xanther and the kitten both benefit from the relationship that forms between them. The kitten’s benefits from the relationship are quite obvious. The kitten is saved by her and nursed back to health in a very loving home. Xanther also experiences a complete transformation from how we see her at the beginning of the book. Danielewski writes that “ Xanther feels fine, feels better than fine: the kitten is here at her side and even if nothing seems to have changed everything suddenly feels manageable. Or better: answerable” (839). She no longer feels anxious and does not have a million pestering questions running through her head. The animal relationship we see in Wild Seed is quite the opposite. Anyanwu has a very parasitic relationship with the animals she deals with. In order to transform into the animal shapes, she must first eat the animal. The best example is when she becomes the most beautiful dolphin and feels at complete peace escaping Doro while swimming in the ocean. The only reason she was able to do this was because she actually ate the dolphin… In other words, while Anyanwu is benefiting from the relationship with the dolphin, the dolphin is suffering tremendously by dying. These relationships between the two novels is as different as night and day and are very clear examples of mutualistic and parasitic relationships.

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