As we have now read multiple stories by Octavia Butler, it is strongly evident that much of the same themes reoccur throughout her works. Now, it is obvious that Butler wants to challenge her readers, but I personally have reached a point where I have become nearly blinded by my own judgment of the characters. Not only the characters themselves, but their way of life. It seems that their lives revolve (especially in the Seed to Harvest novels) around breeding, mating, and reproducing (and oftentimes this is either ordered or forced). There appears to be little to no actual enjoyment of life and of pursuing endeavors that are of the individual’s own will.
When discussing how we felt at this point regarding Butler’s work in class recently, I said I felt sickened. It is due to the subject matter mentioned above that I feel this way, tied with my own contrasting desires for my own life. As a reader, I realize I should not let my own personal beliefs too strongly determine how I react to the story, but something about Butler’s worlds has created this strong, as the title suggests, repelled feeling.
If I could tell myself a reason for her doing this, it might ease the experience for me. However, there is no one answer that comes to mind that can give me assurance and meaning. It has occurred to me that perhaps these feelings are one big projection onto the characters Butler has created. Aren’t real, modern people driven by desires not that far off from those of characters such as Doro, Mary, and countless others? Do people not wish to reproduce; and if they do not, do they not face scrutiny from society? This scrutiny is another whole discussion, but it does suggest the mass opinion. But either way, there is no denying the similarities that exist between the desires/drives of the characters and those of many (not all, obviously) people in modern society. I just wonder, am I projecting the rebellion to these desires right now personally or do I truly think there is more to life? Right now, I can say with confidence that I think there is more to life than what Butler’s stories suggest. It is the alternative – the idea that life actually does revolve and – an even scarier thought – is supposed to revolve around procreation that frightens me.
I am not unaware of the fact that it is necessary for humans to procreate in order for the human race to continue and I am not denying the joys that come along with that experience; but these joys do not appear to be experienced by Butler’s characters. It seems like there is no joy for life or individual freedom whatsoever. Perhaps it is that lack, not just the forceful breeding of human beings, that truly disturbs me.