Flipping the Tlic/Terran Binary

Something that I noticed while reading “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler was that the T’ often preceding Tlic names seemed to function as a title.  The T’ in T’Khotgif changes to Ch’ after she produces offspring as evidenced by T’Gatoi’s reference to her shortly after the birth: “‘T’Khotgif—Ch’Khotgif now’”(173).  

This may imply that these titles carry a sort of respect and formality, similarly to the way we would address our superiors as Mr, Ms, and Mrs.  If this is the case, then the way that characters in “Bloodchild” use these titles would tell us more about their relationships with their Tlic and the power dynamics that are implied.  

Before Lomas is cut open, he calls out for his Tlic, T’Khotgif, by her full name.  Gan recalls this later: “‘He said ‘T’Khotgif.’ ’ Qui shuddered. ‘If she had done that to me, she’d be the last person I’d call for.’” (171)

Qui, who is clearly uncomfortable with the Tlic, also refers to their family’s Tlic by her full name while asking Gan how he viewed their relationship “‘while T’Gatoi was picking worms out of that guy’s guts’” (172)

However, we see this binary being broken towards the end of the story when Gan addresses his Tlic, without the prefix.  This has an effect similar to using a teacher’s first name and signifies a shift in their relationship.

I believe this was intentional as Gan, frustrated and emotional from the situation, does it repeatedly while he challenges her: “‘Ask me, Gatoi.’” (174) and “‘There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.’” (175) While these quotes would have made sense without “Gatoi”, seeing this binary start to change as Gan begins to question her is quite powerful.

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