Is “Bloodchild” A Love Story?

Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” tells of the powerful Tlic, who protect Earthly Terrans in exchange for the use of Terran’s as host animals for their parasitic young. Butler describes her short story as “a love story between two very different beings” — I would call it provocative and disturbing. Gan, a Terran, is supposed to be impregnated with the eggs of T’Gatoi, a powerful Tlic. After seeing a bloody Tlic birth gone wrong, Gan is repulsed. Although he doesn’t want to, he still chooses to let T’Gatoi implant her Tlic eggs into him.

Butler claims that “Bloodchild” is “a dramatic story of a man becoming pregnant as an act of love—choosing pregnancy in spite of as well as because of surrounding difficulties.” But those surrounding difficulties include a system in which Tlic are entitled to the use of Terran bodies. If Gan chose not to be implanted, it would mean that T’Gatoi would use his sister instead.

Gan had little real choice. His decision to be implanted was of reluctant acceptance to a system that stripped him of his bodily autonomy and personal agency, making him a tool for the Tlic.

I believe that loving relationships are healthy and consensual — I’m not sure that I would classify “Bloodchild” as a love story.

8 thoughts on “Is “Bloodchild” A Love Story?

  1. Olivia K

    I completely agree with this! I don’t think Gan was in love with T’Gatoi. There definitely was love conveyed in this story, between Gan and his mother and between Gan and his sister, but he never had a mutual or healthy relationship with T’Gatoi. There was never a mutual recognition between the two because T’Gatoi would always have power over Gan and his family.

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  2. TAKUMA K.

    I agree and feel that this story is definitely not a love story. The relationship between T’Gatoi and Gan is a forced relationship where Gan accepts in order to protect Xuan Hoa. There is no love in the relationship.

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  3. LILY T

    I would agree with your stance. I do not think it is a story of love in any way. The tilcs have power over the terrans forcing their relationship with one another. Yes, both species are helping each other out in a sense, but this doesn’t show love to me. It is more of a mutual understanding, with a lot of manipulation involved.

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  4. Katie V.

    Sometimes love stories are disturbing. Love can be looked at in two ways, as an emotion, and as an action. I agree fully that the relationship between Gan and T’Gatoi is not loving in the action sense of the word, but I do believe that they both feel the emotion of love towards each other. That is not to say that the presence of love justifies their relationship by the way.

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  5. JENNA S

    I appreciate your opinion and agree with your rejection of considering it a love story. While this isn’t what we’d classify as a normal, or healthy, relationship, the classification of a love story changes my perception on their bond. I can see how T’Gatoi could be seen as a dominating, abusive partner to a hopeful Gan. Although Gan didn’t have a typical love for T’Gatoi, the cycle of abuse and Gan constantly wanting to please her made it appear like a dystopian love story to me.

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    1. JOHN VALAIKA

      I think this is a very interesting perspective to look at the story from. When I read this it never occurred to me that it could be seen as a dystopian love story as you put it. The fact that it is a science fiction story and quite literally “out of this world,” made it a very interesting read that kept me on the edge of my seat. So much so that I never really took a step back to analyze relationships closely.

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  6. Logan G

    I agree that the connection between Gan and T’Gatoi is not love. Gan can have feeling for T’Gatoi but I believe the feelings are forced because the Tilc’s have so much power over the Terrans. The Tilcs will always have power over the Terrans.

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  7. Isabelle M

    I had the same reaction to Gan’s “choice”–it didn’t seem like there was one at all. He was kind of backed into a corner, and he chose to spare his sister from the fate he himself was trying to avoid. To me, that felt like a choice made out of desperation, rather than out of true willingness to be implanted.

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