To be or not to be… implanted by an alien species

In Octavia Butler’s short story, “bloodchild” she explores the ideas of risks and rewards and how they relate to each other. By creating a sci-fi world in her short but impressionable story, she creates complicated internal conflicts within the characters that relate to these risks and rewards. Is risking something eventually worth the reward you get from doing it? That is the question the main character, Gan, tries to answer when it comes to his debacle on whether or not he should be implanted by an egg of an alien species. 

The struggle within Gan shows that choosing the right answer to something that could affect you for the rest of your life is not an easy decision. One must think about the pros and cons before making a life-changing decision. There were many factors that went into Gan’s thought process. He had been aware most of his life that T’Gatoi was basically grooming him to carry her egg. Gan had seen this as something that was meant to happen, and in the beginning of the story, there wasn’t anything in the way that was going to change his mind. But, it only took one experience to change his mind. One of Gan’s kind was suffering from flesh-eating worms inside his body- which the reader would later figure out was how the Terran birthed the children of the Tlic of which they had inserted inside of them. The only way to save him was for T’Gatoi to open him up and move the worms into another warm body. She had Gan go out and kill a large mammal so that once she removed the worms, they could be placed inside there. That was the first thing that upset Gan a little bit, having to kill an achti. Secondly, just watching this gruesome process made him quite uneasy. Some of the things that T’Gatoi did, such as “lick away [the] blood” of the other man (18) really made Gan not feel special. He thought that she was enjoying this and that she didn’t care about who she did it to. Gan, feeling like just another Terrnan, traded the feeling like he mattered to T’Gatoi for ambiguity. He felt like another pawn in the game of chess that the Tlic loved to play.

After T’Gatoi healed the man, Gan was talking to his older brother, Qui. Qui had also seen something similar happen to a man, except it had a very different outcome. In that instance, the Tlic didn’t have anything to transport the young into. The Terran ended up being in so much pain that he asked the Tlic to just kill him because it was so bad. After the Terran’s throat was slit, the young began to eat him from the inside out. This had traumatized Qui and after that experience he hadn’t wanted anything to do with the Tlic, including T’Gatoi even though she was a very close family friend. He knew that it was a possibility that this could happen to him, and he didn’t want to risk it so he disassociated himself from her kind. In doing this, he ultimately put the responsibility onto Gan, since Tlic usually implanted their eggs in males rather than females. After this whole situation, Gan made T’Gatoi aware that he no longer wanted to go through with it, to which she was disappointed but didn’t give up hope in implanting her eggs into a Terran. The next person she would go to would be Gan’s sister, who was more than willing to do it. But, Gan had a very quick change of heart once he thought about the consequences to this action. He valued his sister’s life over his own. Doing something like this would be very high risk and if she didn’t survive somehow, Gan would go on to blame himself for her death. This shows that he has very strong bonds with his family, and sacrificing himself to ensure everyone else lives was what he was willing to do. Of course, he could survive this, and nothing too bad could happen, but if something did, it would be to him. So, eventually T’Gatoi implanted the egg in Gan (32). 

The ending made the reader feel comforted with Gan’s future, for T’Gatoi said that she would always be there to take care of him. And since she has been there his whole life, why would anything change now? Taking the risk of having the egg implanted in him, Gan knew what he was signing up for. The reward of this action was that his sister didn’t have to be the one at risk of dying with the children inside of her. He sacrificed his own life for her, even though it’s not a guarantee that he will die, but there is always a chance. A chance he is willing to take to save his sister.

Thinking of this course as a “preserve” as what was mentioned in the story, they are both similar. According to the reading of the foundational course documents, the way in which the course is formatted gives some freedom and flexibility to anyone taking it. Living in the preserve, Gan and his family have freedom in that they may spend their lives with whoever they chose, as Gan’s parents did. But their freedom is limited because the Tlic really do control the preserve. But, the Terran have a certain power of Tlic in that they are the best creatures to hold their children. The way that one student interprets something can be totally different than another student’s. Everything in this course is about the goals you set for yourself and self-reflection and improvement. As a writer, I tend to focus on the tiny details of a story rather than the big picture which could really help in the long run with conceptual ideas. Finding out the main idea or a theme could help with becoming a better reader and even writer because you are able to zoom out and take it all in.

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