Indeed, “Bloodchild” is not about slavery. It is about how the Tlic and Terrans formed an interdependent relationship in which they try to leave peacefully among each other. As the Tlic offer protection, the Terrans offer one male from each family to serve as a host to Tlic eggs.
The Tlic are viewed as evil because they are non-human creatures. They are parasitic that need host animals for their eggs. The Tlic reproduce by laying their fertile eggs in other living organisms where the larvae feed off of the host’s blood. When the larvae hatch, they release a poison into the host’s body where they start eating their egg cases while continuing to consume the host.
A major part of this short story is the influence of culture and society’s expectations. Modern society understands slavery as a treacherous experience, sympathizing to the recurrence of oppression. Butler discusses the approaches by which humans simultaneously protect their survival while also maintaining their survival. The Terrans arrived at a desperate time, so the Tlic used that opportunity to use them as host organisms. There is a symbiotic codependency between the Tlic and the Terrans. The Tlic teach Terrans about the process of reproduction. From birth, Terrans are taught and adjusted to the societal order. In the story, Gan and T’Gatoi develop a relationship that is both loving and manipulative.
Lastly, Butler creates an unusual binary switch in which the men become pregnant. Our modern day society has a fixed view on gender binary. Usually, males have the majority of the power and females are left with little to nothing. Butler criticizes the traditional power dynamic of the gender binary by establishing a world where the power dynamic between men and women are reversed.
3 thoughts on ““Bloodchild” Vs. Society”
When I read “Bloodchild”, I felt as if the connections between the Tlic and the Terrans were slavery-like. However, after analyzing the story further, I agree with you. Slavery is not the proper word to describe the relationship between the Terran and the Tlic. I feel as if the binary switch you mentioned that Butler addresses acts as a distraction and leads us to believe that this world is opposite from our own. When we are confronted with these sorts of contradictions, we may automatically assume that since one aspect of the world the story takes place in is different, all of it is. In reality, however, “Bloodchild” is a human story that is merely converted to fit an alien world.
I’m not sure if I agree that the relationship between the Tlic and the Terrans is not slavery like. It’s definitely not as oppressive of a system. But I feel like the Terrans ultimately have no freedom. They have to stay in a “preserve,” they have to give up one of their children, and they’re not allowed any instruments that could be used for a revolution. If someone were to fight against the Tlic, I’m sure they would be killed. Although their job isn’t to literally provide food or resources to profit off of like slavery, their job is to breed options for the Tlic to use and basically destroy. And I’m not sure if there is strong of difference of major control between those two scenarios. You could argue that the Terrans can speak freely, move freely and have some sort of freedom of choice. The mother choses the child to give up, the preserve is probably large, it seemed like Gan had a choice to be used. But the mother isn’t choosing whether or not to give up a child, and did Gan really have a choice if his beloved sister would have suffered instead? I’m not sure. Obviously we didn’t get a throrough description of the Tlic world, but it seemed to me like the Terran were getting nothing in return for the use of their bodies and maybe could have survived without them.
I like the idea in this, and I agree with most of it, but the one part I don’t agree with is the switching the binary. In this world, women still carry human children, and the men just carry the Tlic eggs. Because they both go through similar experiences, I would think that they would be more of equals. I think that the real power structure in this is between Tlic and Terran, and Tlic have the power over Terrans.