Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Wild Seed follows the lives of two immortal beings, from 1690 to 1840: Doro, who can shift his “life essence” into the bodies of other people by will, causing their souls or essences to die; and Anyanwu, an Onitsha-Ibo (African) woman who possesses powerful healing skills and the ability to shape-shift, to take any human or animal shape. The story centers on Doro’s struggle to create a race of immortals with extraordinary powers and Anyanwu’s resistance to the cruelty of his methods.

The novel is divided into three books: “Covenant,” which begins in Africa in 1690; “Lot’s Children,” centered in New England in 1741; and “Canaan,” set in Louisiana in 1840. Each book depicts a stage in the relationship between Doro and Anyanwu. Early in book 1, Doro senses Anyanwu’s presence while collecting breeding stock in West Africa. She is “wild seed,” a powerful individual whose unique genes Doro has not bred into her. Anyanwu is drawn to him, for his promise of immortal children and compelling charm. She has been married numerous times during her three-hundred-year life span; Doro offers the first promise in ages of a worthy husband. Doro encourages her to leave Africa for one of his breeding settlements in America.

Aboard ship, Anyanwu learns that Doro’s promises include veiled threats against her children and forced marriage to his son Isaac. Though resistant, she eventually agrees to marry Isaac. Only this woman,...

(The entire section is 584 words.)