The short story, “Bloodchild,” written by Octavia Butler, revolves primarily around the Terrans’ relationship with the Tlic and the birthing process they both play a critical role in. Gan and his family, all Terran, are living inside the Preserve and have a relationship with T’Gatoi, a Tlic who has political power and is in control of the Preserve. The main connection between the Terran and the Tlic is the birthing process. The Tlic use the Terran to carry their grubs for them, because the Tlic are not able to carry their children themselves. The author uses her story to examine and explore reproduction rights that were being debated or taking place during the time she was writing. Some examples of these rights are exhibited in the incidents of abortion, rape, and surrogate parenthood. These issues that are present in the story are important because they reveal the underlying theme of control throughout “Bloodchild.”
First, feminist ideas are seen throughout the short story “Bloodchild,” Feminism emerged in the beginning of the 19th century. Three total “waves” of Feminism took place, each of which focused on different issues, depending on the context of their emergence. Feminists started to advocate for the “right to choose” in the 1970s. These women saw the legalization of abortion as vital to their equality with men. Having the ability to decide when to have children, or if to have children, was extremely important to feminists (Adams 313). The idea of abortion is also seen in Octavia Butler’s short story. The first time Gan observes the birthing process, he is horrified by the whole event and throws up from watching it take place (Butler 17). Prior to seeing this process occur, Gan is the one person in his family who relates most with T’Gatoi. Though his mother and his other siblings find lying with T’Gatoi uncomfortable, he explains that it is comfortable for him (Butler 6). He grew up with T’Gatoi, which was deliberate, as she wanted to see the one who would be carrying her grubs go through the different stages of life. In many ways, Gan views T’Gatoi as another mother figure. However, once he sees this event take place with Bram Lomas, he is significantly impacted. He stops having a romanticized view of the Tlic and Terran relationship. He realizes that really the Terran are being used solely for reproduction and there really is no loving relationship between them. Later, as he is sitting in the darkness of the kitchen, T’Gatoi approaches him. She apologizes that he had to witness the birth and says that she wishes he had never seen it. In this discussion, Gan brings up an important detail. After he talks to T’Gatoi for a while about Bram Lomas, he points out that no one ever asks the Terran if they want to be part of the birthing process (Butler 23). Once Gan makes this observation, it becomes obvious that his eyes are opened to the Tlics’ domination over the Terran (African American Review). Similarly to the Terran who are not asked about whether they want to be hosts for the Tlic, women who become pregnant from rape or incest are not asked whether they want to be impregnated or not. They are essentially forced into having nonconsensual sex, and if they end up pregnant, then that’s what happens; they don’t have a choice in the matter. While Gan is in the kitchen, he has a rifle with him. He is considering killing himself, because he would rather be dead then become impregnated with T’Gatoi’s grubs (Butler 24). Though he does not kill himself, this element of the story is also tied to abortion. Women who become pregnant and do not want the child, kill the baby or “abort” it rather than giving birth. In “Bloodchild” Gan is preparing to kill himself instead of the grubs, but the similarity of not wanting to be pregnant or give birth is the same. Also, it is interesting to note...
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