Is Spike a serial murderer or just a dangerous predator? Does he need to be redeemed or merely tamed?
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Dirty Words (Rating-R)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Nested Frames
A Few of My Favorite Things

Taming Spike

"...if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."




I'm not religious so I don't understand the talk of souls and redemption. I think of vampires, not as serial murderers, but as man-eating tigers and of Buffy as a tiger hunter. We can't have man-eating tigers roaming the streets or man-eating vampires roaming Sunnydale. It is the man-eating part that makes it necessary to slay vampires, not the vampire part. Tigers are dangerous to humans. Humans have long demonized anything that is dangerous to them, from lions and tigers and wolves to other humans. The Watcher's Council might have demonized…demons. Is Spike a serial murderer or just a dangerous predator? Does he need to be redeemed or merely tamed? The changes we have seen in Spike remind me of the words of the fox in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. The little prince asks the fox,

"What does that mean--'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."

"To establish ties?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."

"My life is very monotonous," he said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . . "

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. "Please--tame me!" he said.

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "If you want a friend, tame me . . . "

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . . "
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--

"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."

"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . . "

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"Then it has done you no good at all!"

"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields."

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

Spike has been tamed by his love for Buffy. He has established ties, first with her, then with Joyce and Dawn, then with the Scoobies. The more tame Spike becomes the more ties he establishes with people, the more of them become unique to him. People are slowly ceasing to be just Happy Meals with legs. He sees more and more of them as special, not as interchangeable snacks. In Lover's Walk Spike threatened to put a bottle through Willow's face and to kill Xander and we believed him. It seems unlikely that today's tamer, more "tied" Spike would do such a thing. Willow and Xander are no longer ciphers to him. When Spike goes to test his chip he doesn't try it on any of the Scoobies but on alleygirl, someone with whom he has no ties.
As Spike became tame Buffy's step called him like music out of his underground crypt. Even when she punched him or mocked him he would seek her out, patrol with her, hang about outside her house, sneak into it, protect her, help her, suffer torture for her, was willing to die for her. Because she had tamed him, even if it was not deliberate. The tamed Spike became a friend and every day it seems she sits a littler nearer to him.

As Spike has been tamed so he has tamed Buffy. Despite having killed hundreds or thousands of vampires for Buffy this vampire has become unique. For every time Spike threatened and planned to kill the slayer and then preferred to dance rather than to strike so there was another time when Buffy swore to kill Spike, promised to kill Spike, tried to kill Spike but then never did. Never pursued him when she had the advantage. Never tried as hard as she could. Almost like, I have a hangnail, I can't go chase and kill Spike. The real reason seemed to be: it's fun fighting with Spike, bickering with Spike, even tormenting Spike. If I kill him I'll miss the fun. Who else ever made her as angry, as engaged, as passionate as Spike? As her step calls him out of his crypt so his calls her into it.

The more Spike has been tamed by his love of Buffy the more she and he need each other. As women once were said to have the function of taming man, civilizing the beast, so Spike's relationship with Buffy has tamed him, turned him into a man by treating him like a man. He even has furniture now and more than one outfit. The fox says, "what you tame you are forever responsible for." Spike behaves as if he were responsible for Buffy, even when she is unwilling or disdainful of his help. When will Buffy feel a comparable responsibility for Spike, the vampire she has tamed?


Copyright Alllie 2002