“Bloodchild” and Switching Gender Roles

In the short story “Bloodchild”, Octavia Butler brings us into a completely new world where aliens are in control of humans and men are now used to reproduce. She introduces us to a whole new way of creating life and giving birth, which consists of one member of the Tlics, or aliens, to implant their eggs into a male human host and eventually remove the eggs once they have grown enough by slicing the stomach of the host and digging them all out, in hopes that the host will survive. The brutal explanation of this process was disturbing to read, but how different is it from the way women used to give birth?

During the discussion we had in class, it seemed to many people that what happens to these host men is considerably worse than what women go through during childbirth, but in reality, they are about the same.

Giving birth to a child is one of the most dangerous and painful things a woman can do, and nobody really seems to talk about it. A century ago, around six hundred women would die during childbirth for every one hundred thousand births, and in the 1700’s, that number was more than doubled. Puerperal fever, hemorrhage, eclampsia (ridiculously high blood pressure), and obstructed labor are all causes of death during childbirth that many people aren’t aware of, along with infection and a list of many other things that could go wrong.

I think the way Butler created this process was very fascinating and I really enjoyed the way she switched these gender roles in her story because the way these births happen in her story are actually very similar to the way women give birth today, and allows the reader, mostly men, to see themselves in the story and compare this with what giving birth is like for women.

Why The Elephant Never Mattered

In “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami, An elderly elephant disappears from a suburb outside of Tokyo, but none of it matters. The elephant came into the ownership of the town through somewhat comedic means, and even though it caused quite the uproar for some time, the elephant was never more than an amusing oddity to the town. When the elephant disappears along with its keeper, the town sinks into a temporary state of mass hysteria, but as blame is thrown to just about anyone, the town slowly forgets about the elephant.

Our main character, despite his passion for keeping up on the happenings on this elephant, unfortunately slips back into the functions of everyday life. In time, it is clearly shown that everyone forgets, or wants to forget, about this elephant. Why do they forget? Because the elephant has no significance to them. It’s an oddity; a conversation starter. What did the elephant ever contribute to the town besides some possible publicity? It was simply an abandoned animal, and why the main character ever cared is an illusion.

At the time of the disappearance, there was a lot of attention given to the elephant. There were multiple high class investigations, and it even led to some political unrest. Even though all of these things seem significant, they made no change on the state of the suburb or those living in it. Our main character still went to his day job just like everyone else, and life moved on. The suburb before and after the elephant was the same. The status quo remained the status quo.

Is Mutual Recognition Achieved in “Secret Woman”

In the short story “Secret Woman” by Sidonie Gabrielle Collete is about how a Husband finds out that his wife is not as perfect as he originally perceived her as. Throughout the story, the husband viewed his wife as perfect and innocent up until he caught her at a sexual mascarade party interacting with different people. He never thought that she would come to the party since she wrote off the invite but, in return caused the husband to walk away from her without her noticing his presence in the party.

To me, the idea of the husband walking away shows that he has come to terms with her not being whom she portrayed her self as throughout the story. the husband found mutual recognition since he realized that she was not the “almond” like women that he used to love but the very complex women with “Satanic hands” that he witnessed in the mascarade party. This shows that the wife is much more than just a stereotypical woman but a more free person and that when she is around her husband she has a mask on to hide her differences and characteristics that he is uncomfortable with.

I also feel that mutual recognition is found when the husband begins to follow his wife around the party waiting to see what man she came to the party to see and finds that she is alone but still with everyone physically. He finds that his wife is capable of doing things on her own without a dominating figure above her head controlling her every move.

Therefore the husband had no choice but to respect and understand that his wife was no longer under his control and that she was able to do whatever she felt she needed at that moment. It also made the husband realize that even he was living a lie for lying to his wife but lying to himself that his wife was perfect.

It Isn’t Just in Your Head, the Mutual Recognition of “Escape from Spiderhead”

George Saunders’ piece, “Escape from Spiderhead,” conveys an essential message that appears at the end of the reading as Jeff, our narrator, reflects on his past and lets go of his struggles.

“Escape from Spiderhead” takes place in a futuristic prison clinical that test new drugs on criminals instead of having the criminals put into an ordinary jail. The reading follows along with Jeff’s perspective and his thoughts about the events he endures. Jeff experiences a particular experiment, which tests his morals, and he learns more about himself and other than every before.

The specific drug tested, in the time we are with Jeff, is a drug that makes two random strangers fall entirely in love without having been interested before. Furthermore, the drug can turn off the passion, drug-influenced or not. In the beginning, there is no resistance and maybe even some enjoyment, but it starts to make Jeff question many things. He doubts the reality of love and reflects the emotions felt, were they even real? Matters are made more difficult for Jeff as the scientists force him into furthering the experiment to prove the drug to be successful.

Through the experiment, Jeff reflects on his feelings towards others as human beings, compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding. He sees them as his equal even after discovering the horrifying crime they had committed. Jeff’s recognition toward them grew more present over time. It isn’t until the experiment is taking too far that Jeff realizes the truth he has been missing.

During the time of the trial and his “fateful night,” Jeff’s mother had always been there for him, protecting him and trying to put him in a better place. Even after Jeff was convicted, his mom still saw him as a human similarly to how Jeff saw the others during the experiment.

Overall, some may assume mutual recognition is seen when Jeff connects with his fellow mates. But it is not until the end when Jeff decides his fate and thinks of his mother and himself as not a criminal anymore. It is the relationship between mother and son that has evidence of seeing each other as equals and human beings that makes mutual recognition visible.

“Black Box” and the Questionable Empowerment of Women

On the surface, Black Box seems like a short story that does a good job of empowering women through the decisions they make, specifically being a spy and helping the government gain information on high profile criminals. However, through the use certain words such as “Beauty”, and the involvement of our narrator’s husband, there seems to be slight ambiguity in what our author was trying to convey.

To begin with, it seems that the use of the word “Beauty” is used to describe all young women. That is only one word, and it can be taken that calling someone a beauty reduces a girl to one aspect. That is degrading to females because it takes all other aspects out of them. They are only seen as beauties and nothing else. On top of that, it is said that “Posing as a beauty means not reading what you like to read on a rocky shore in the South of France.” This quote is one of many that shows that beauties are supposed to not do what they want, and solely have to listen to what their Designated Mate wants. If this is the case, then why does the author refer to all young women as beauties, and not just the spies. I feel like this means that our author is actually in a way being degrading.

When you look at how the narrator talks about her husband, it also seems that she is taking part in this program not because she wanted to, but more because her husband wanted her to. This is taking away from her decision, and is implying that she can’t make her own decision. the quote “You will reflect on the fact that America is your husband’s chosen country and he loves it.” This quote makes it seem that she is partaking in this because of her husband’s allegiance to his country. These quotes, plus many more throughout the story, prove the ambiguity the author makes when trying to empower women.

Secret Woman: FOUND

Throughout Secret Woman, a short story by Colette, there are surprisingly few secrets, especially concerning Irene, the main subject of the story and the narrator’s wife.

The nature of short stories makes telling any tale with great detail a monumental undertaking. To skirt along this limit, Colette chose instead to pursue a single scene of a longer story with enough detail that it sends a message by its lonesome.

She then proceeds to descriptively sculpt all of Irene’s indulgements for the night leaving the reader with very little that is hidden or inconclusive about the so-called “Secret Woman”. Colette portrays the narrator as disgusted and seemingly uninterested in his wife after he realizes the scope of her secondary personality, but the diction of the story in many cases suggests that the wife isn’t quite reliant on her husband for support and can take care of her self.

I would contend that the story is centered around the idea that only the husband thought he was special, and the contrast between his self perception and how his wife actually views him.

Foreshadowing the Future in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

Everyone believes in something, and everyone has a dream: winning a state championship in track and field, passing that super complex math test, or resolving world hunger. But when these dreams come true, they’re not all we thought they were cracked up to be. In Gabriel Márquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” the townspeople all believe in angels; they have no trouble accepting that that’s what the old winged man is. The complication is that this angel does not meet the towns stereotypical expectations for him. In fact, he doesn’t look like the conventional angel, speak the language or fly. This conducts the townspeople to eventually accept the fact that their beloved wishes would not be granted by the angel in the way that they thought, essentially forcing them to face the ugly truth of their poverty ridden lives.

When the angel proved to be of no significance to the people they decided to move on to the next attraction that grasped their attention,which in this specific case was the spider woman. This can directly be tied into kindergartners as keeping them on track isn’t the easiest task similar to the townspeople. 

As a society, we have been taught to throw away the things we don’t need anymore. From our early days to our ruthless hallways now, our generation specifically, has been propelled towards this idea. 

I feel as though Márquez incorporated this theme of recycling into the story to target and mock the ways of society, then and now. He does this by using the natural the role of a reader to his advantage as he lightly weaves this idea through the story. This approach isn’t direct yet, readers end up grasping this perspective and overall vain concept from the characters that he is trying to convey.