Bloodchild

Report
By Octavia Butler
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1947-2006
Only Sci-Fi writer ever to
receive prestigious John D.
and Catherine T. MacArthur
Genius Grant
“Bloodchild” published in
Isaac Asimiov’s Science
Fiction Magazine, 1984
Interested in race and gender
relations, and as a character
says in one of her novels
“strange relationships”
The first African-American
female science-fcition writer
to gain critical acclaim
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The story begins with the family and T’Gatoi eating eggs
that produce drug-like effects (relaxation, pleasure, but
also “prolonged life and […]vigor”) but Gan’s mom
doesn’t want to eat one (pg. 1035-6). Why not?
Gan says he knows his mother is lying when she tells Gan
to be respectful and obedient to T’Gatoi and when she
says it’s an honor to have T’Gatoi in their house (p.
1036). Since she is friends with T’Gatoi, why is the
mother lying?
T’Gatoi and his family live in the Preserve. In our world
how do Preserves function?
What is T’Gatoi’s role in Tlic-Terran relations? How
would Terrans be viewed if not for her and her political
faction? What is the Tlic-Terran relationship like?
At one point Gan’s mom tell Gan to “take car of her,”
meaning T’Gatoi (pg. 1036). Since T’Gatoi has more
power than any Terran, what does the mother mean by
this?
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Gan says at one point he had always liked to lie against
T’Gatoi but no one else in the family did because it
“made them feel caged” (pg. 1037). Why do they feel
that way and why doesn’t Gan?
Describe the Tlic birthing process (pg. 1041). What are
your impressions of it? How is it similar to and different
from the human birthing process?
How does Gan feel toward T’Gatoi? Do his feelings
change at all through the story? Does he love her?
How does T’Gatoi feel toward Gan? Gan’s mother?
How are the Tlic-Terran dynamics like and unlike
women-men dynamics?
Many critics (though the author resists this
interpretation) have examined the story as a masterslave narrative with parallels to the U.S. mater-slave
relationship in our history. Do you see this in it?
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Who has the power in the story and is it static
or dynamic?
Why does the story focus on birth? What values
and associations does our culture place on
birthing? Does this story reinforce, interrogate,
or deviate from those values and assumptions?
How does one’s control of one’s own
reproductivity allow for empowerment or
subjectivity? Is reproduction a violent process?
How is the pairing of T'Gatoi and Gan similar to
and different from male and female pairing in
American culture?
What is the conflict Gan experiences and why
is he conflicted? What would you do in Gan's
shoes?
 NPR

Conference on Racism and Butler Essay
http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/0
10830.octaviabutler.html
 Video:
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Octavia Butler, Women Writing Sci-Fi
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW9hVkrO9O
U&feature=related

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