The most important trait of vampires is that they have to consume blood to keep their bodies functioning. This is one of the main characteristics in vampire literature which can be found in nearly all of the texts. Many other traits are fluid and changed over time. However, ‘White is for Witching’ chooses a different approach to this.
Miranda does not need to consume blood to live, and in fact, she even needs food instead of blood to prevent herself from becoming weak.
In ‘White is for Witching’, blood stands for the “racial purity” of her ancestors. They force Miranda to consume others to sustain this purity of her blood, which can be seen in the following quote: “[T]he good lady ‘is very beautiful, Miranda, but very strict. Everything she does is necessary, and she makes no exception to any rule. She’s what I had instead of a mother, much stricter than any mother. She’s like tradition, it’s very serious when she’s disobeyed. She’s in our blood. And she’s told me that if I can’t get you to eat, she will. You must eat real food, and you must eat as much as you can manage, or you might end up with the good lady for your mother.”
Her mother Lily warns Miranda in this passage about the good lady and how dangerous it is to disobey her. This good lady is, in fact, her great-grandmother Anna Good, who wants to force her to consume the blood of others in order to destroy them.
In another passage, Anna wants to feed Miranda and Eliot her own blood but they refuse it (72). According to Aspasia Stephanou, this enables her to sustain the purity of her own blood without polluting it with the blood of others (qtd. in Stephanou 1249). She explains that by replacing this auto-vampirism with eating chalk, plastic and other inedible substances, there is a gradual movement away from the xenophobia of the past, which also symbolizes the declining importance of “race” from Anna Good to Lily and finally her daughter.
However, Miranda is still connected with Anna Good through her blood, which Lily described by saying that the good lady is in their blood. The “blood is not the life here but the carrier of a dangerous identity. Blood draws her closer to her maternal relatives, racism, sickness and monstrosity” (1252).
Stephanou further argues that the inherited identity of her forces her to desire eating or destroying the racial other. Anna Good orders Miranda several times to eat and to destroy the racial other, best observable when Miranda finds Lily, her grandmother Jenny and Anna Good besides a table ready laid with food.
Miranda’s mother has locked the mouths of Anna Good and Jennifer with a padlock and therefore they are desperate to get Miranda to eat for them. In this case they want her to consume the blood of Jalil, an Arab boy whom she kissed. The growing influence of the good lady makes Miri have another vision, with the goal to increase her hunger and lust by showing her blood and flesh of the living people in a club.
She manages to control herself but the blood of her ancestors still flows in her and the more she tries to escape this, the sicker she becomes and, thus, her desire to consume the other grows (qtd. in Porter 3). This desire becomes particularly irresistible when Miranda starts to sleep with Ore and even starts to like the way their skin look together (qtd. in Oyeyemi 167). This eventually leads to the point where Miranda starts to run her nose over the body of Ore while she sleeps and has to resist the urge to bite and consume her. Her appetite becomes unbearable and therefore she “needed Ore open” (191) and she even has to take notes like “Ore is not food. I think I am a monster” (192) to remind herself of self-control.
Comparing the use of blood in ‘White is for Witching’ and in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, one can observe a few differences. According to Nilifer Pektaş, indications of what Victorians considered as sexual perversions are indirectly expressed in ‘Dracula’ but “it is expressed through blood where blood sucking indicates sexual intercourse and these ‘perversions’ are brilliantly camouflaged” (Pektaş 11).
According to her, sex and blood are closely associated with each other because of the Victorian belief that blood is actually sperm, which also enabled Bram Stoker to make homosexuality one of the main motives of Dracula, since it is coded with the symbolic use of blood.
One could see similarities in ‘White is for Witching’ since Miranda and Ore represent the homosexual motive and the use of blood as a symbolic element is quite prevalent in the book. But Miranda’s sexual attraction towards Ore and her desire for her blood are sometimes separated narratives within the story.
In these certain situations, she does not lust after Ore because of her blood, which can be seen in the following passage of the text: “Miranda had lain by Ore, smelling her, running her nose over the other girl’s body, turning the beginning of a bite into a kiss whenever Ore stirred, laying a trail of glossy red lip prints” (Oyeyemi 191).
Here, we observe Miranda’s struggle to resist biting Ore and whenever Ore moves Miranda pretends to kiss her. This indicates that in this very moment she is not sexually attracted to Ore and instead is only concerned with her blood. In this moment she is the good lady, the soucouyant considering whether to bite Ore or not.
It is not this part of Miranda which is in love with her. This distinction from the classic vampire texts may seem irrelevant but, by avoiding a sexual connotation of the blood in certain situations (and very much relying on a sexual connotations in other situations), it enables us to see it as a symbol of white supremacy.
It is the heritage of racist Britain flowing in their veins and it is passed on from one to another, from Anna to Jennifer, from her to Lily and finally from Lily to Miranda.