Choice

When discussing with my classmates the power of choice (or lack thereof) in Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild,” I began to think about my own experiences with making choices. Did I have a choice in where I am at this moment? Did I ever choose this country, state, school, room, or body that I am in? I’ve never felt like I was outright forced to be in any of these, but I don’t think I ever made the conscious decision to be in them. More relative to the short story is the question of whether or not I had a choice in ending up at SUNY Geneseo. Before I delve into that question, I want to look at Gan’s freedom of choice. Gan was born into the Preserve; A place which Gan portrays as being a safe enclosure where Terrans and Tlic live together in symbiosis. Whether this is true or not I do not know, but at about halfway through the story, Gan is happy with this set-up. Although Gan is content with receiving eggs, warming T’Gatoi, and obeying the Tlic, he did not have a choice but to be born into The Preserve and therefore abide by its laws. This also means that Gan is never allowed to leave. According to him, he is safe in The Preserve. So one can assume he is not allowed to leave because it is for his own good. But this makes me wonder about my own choices. I am at Geneseo for my own good, I am kept safe by its set of laws, and I enjoy being here, but just as Gan’s contentment doesn’t equate to a choice well-made, I don’t know if mine does either. In deciding to attend Geneseo, I didn’t have much choice at all. My parents pay for my education so they had a great influence in where I chose to attend. They insisted that I go to a SUNY school because of the lower tuition and I insisted that I go to a Division 3 school because I wanted to be a part of the track team. So, we both agreed that I should go to the best Division 3 SUNY school I could get into. And here I am! But what would have happened if I disagreed with my parents? If I wanted to go to a more expensive school I would have had to pay for it myself. But I wouldn’t have been able to because I have approximately $0 to my name, since my parents insisted that I only work in the summers and focus on academics during the year. So if going to a more expensive school wasn’t an option, what about no school at all? If I didn’t go to college my parents wouldn’t let me live at home with them, unless I somehow found a job that paid enough money, demanded the respect of others, required skill, and was deemed worthy by my conservative, bearded, Irish-Catholic immigrant father. Impossible. I couldn’t consider living anywhere but under my parents’ roof because, as previously stated, I have $0. What if I decided to leave Geneseo at this moment? I’d find myself at the same bleak dead-end as in the other scenarios. I’d get booted from the O’Neill Household and I would be all by my lonesome. I don’t feel like I am here against my will, but if I were to leave, I would end up with nothing. Essentially, I am making the choice between earning my degree at SUNY Geneseo or spending my life homeless. To me, this is not a choice. I will admit that my analysis of my hypothetical choices is a bit dramatic. There is some choice in me choosing an education over homelessness. And maybe I wouldn’t end up completely homeless, but if I want to have emotional and financial support from my parents and a decent-paying job, I don’t have a choice but to stay where I am.* I didn’t realize that until I began to question it. Gan doesn’t realize he is trapped in a living space that could be potentially dangerous for him and he has no choice but to stay there. Maybe he would realize that if he wondered about his own freedom of choice. What would happen if he decided The Preserve was not enough for him? *my parents are not evil people– this is only hypothetical, and these scenarios are assuming I’d be leaving school to dedicate my time to something silly, or nothing at all.

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