Although Octavia Butler did not intend for “Bloodchild” to be perceived as a futuristic mirror to slavery, many readers, including myself, could draw the parallels between the two. In both the Tlic’s systems of oppression and the Terran’s coping strategies, the power dynamic is clearly unbalanced and enduring.
Since the short story alludes to previous failed rebellions by the Terrans, their obedience to the Tlics is not voluntary. The Terrans use slight resistances to the Tlics that are effective but wouldn’t cause backlash.
For example, it’s evident that the eggs supplied by the Tlics give relief and a buzz that keeps the Terrans dependent on them. Gan’s mother rejects the nourishing egg and doesn’t give in to being reliant on the Tlics. Even if it means her life might end sooner, she doesn’t give T’Gatoi the satisfaction of having control over her. On the other end of the spectrum, Gan’s brother fully submits to being oppressed because, while he doesn’t enjoy being submissive, he accepts the fate of his life.
The mentalities of the two species can be compared to Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In the book, he describes the manipulation used by oppressors to control and make the oppressed feel completely reliant on them. Freire also illustrates the oppressed’s dissociation from their body and their mind. While their physical being has to be compliant, their mind is able to think freely.
The Terrans use small acts as well as mental liberation to combat their oppressed nature. Even when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, Terrans still don’t fully comply to the domination imposed by Tlics and are able to separate their soul from the circumstances.