On an unnamed alien planet, a group of humans referred to as Terrans live in a protected community called the Preserve , along with a segment of the ruling alien race, the Tlic. The Tlic, who are large, intelligent, centipede-like beings, are parasitic and need host animals for their eggs. Since the Terrans are ideal hosts, the Tlic of the Preserve have formed an arrangement with them: the Tlic offer protection and the Terrans offer one male from each family to serve as a host to Tlic eggs. The Tlic and Terrans have formed an interdependent relationship around this arrangement, and live peaceably amongst each other. He is in great pain and great danger—if the eggs are not removed before the gestating Tlic eat through their egg shells, they will begin to eat their Terran host from the inside out.
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As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 79, lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed. Already registered? Log in here for access. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. The story is representative of Butler's oeuvre , or collection of works, insofar as it explores the themes of species interdependence, domination, and gender perversions.
Gan becomes a carrier for the alien species' eggs, since the Tlic cannot reproduce on their own. At first, Gan does not question his role as a carrier. He is happy, content almost. However, that all changes when he watches as another man, Lomas, goes into labor. A Tlic instructs him to go slaughter an animal and bring it back. When Gan returns with the animal, he watches in horror as the Tlic removes the developing eggs from Lomas' abdomen and plants them in the insides of the animal.
This scene forces Gan to question his own willingness to serve as a carrier. In the end, he agrees to save his family. Let's first look at and analyze the theme of interdependence. The Tlic are powerful, but they cannot survive on their own. The future of the species depends on the cooperation of the Terrans. Likewise, the Terrans need the Tlic to survive.
The Terrans are on an alien planet in an unfamiliar environment. They depend upon the food and shelter that the Tlic provide. Butler's notion of interspecies dependence can be seen in the work of the microbiologist Lynn Margulis. Margulis collaborated with James Lovelock to create the 'Gaia hypothesis' , which challenges Darwinean notions of survival of the fittest by describing the symbiotic relationships that exist between organisms. According to Lovelock and Margulis, the human species developed as a result of symbiotic relationships between human and other free-living cells.
The notion of interdependence is important to Butler, whose science fiction tries to imagine a world of harmony among races and sexes. Now, let's look at and analyze the theme of domination. Butler's fiction is deeply interested in networks of power. The author once explained, 'I began writing about power because I had so little.
The Tlic exert control over the Terrans in order to colonize their bodies. The story allegorizes the social relations that existed in the United States at the time of her writing. Butler uses her fiction to portray how minorities, often Blacks and women, are dominated by those in power. Finally, let's look at and analyze the theme of gender role perversion. The main character is a male who becomes pregnant. Meanwhile, the primary antagonist in the story is an aggressive female, T'Gatoi.
T'Gatoi poisons Gan's mother in order to manipulate her. By inverting traditional gender dynamics, Butler challenges the naturalness of gender divisions. She suggests that reproduction and caregiving need not be the exclusive domain of women. Octavia Butler's science fiction short story, ' Bloodchild ,' is about a man who carries the eggs of an alien race.
Initially, the man is happy to be a carrier for the alien species. However, after he witnesses a violent scene of brutality in which another carrier is cut open so that the babies inside of him can be transplanted in another host, he questions his willingness. This story, which is representative of Butler's oeuvre , or collection of works, portrays interspecies dependence through the lens of Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock's 'Gaia hypothesis' , which challenges Darwinean notions of survival of the fittest by describing the symbiotic relations that exist between organisms.
The story also looks at the unequal division of power between social groups and the possibility of radically perverting gender roles. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Create your account. Already a member?
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Save Save Save. Want to watch this again later? Create an account. Lesson Transcript. This lesson offers a plot summary and analysis of major themes in Octavia Butler's short story, 'Bloodchild. Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more? Lesson Summary Octavia Butler's science fiction short story, ' Bloodchild ,' is about a man who carries the eggs of an alien race.
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See all the posts here. In the afterward, Butler states she wanted to explore a scenario where a man could become pregnant not by accident or out of curiosity, but by love. He sacrifices his own safety and well-being for his family, choosing a path for his future that is an uncertain as it is unfavourable. She has been a staple in his family, providing comfort and assurance in spite of her position of power over them. In this way, Butler explores gender roles within the family unit and societal structures.
Is it Possible to Misread Octavia Butler?
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