The Four Essential Building Blocks of Partnership

The major theme of this course was based on risks and rewards, and a quote from one of the readings that really represents what this course is all about. “”If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” This quote originates from the story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler. The context behind this quote is that the two different creatures, T’Gatoi and Gan, live in harmony with each one benefitting the other. At any moment, anything could happen and something bad could happen between the two or to one of them, and by accepting the rewards of a partnership like this they must also accept the risk.

This quote definitely has influenced many of the discussions in the course, because it is so common to see partnerships, no matter how subtle they are. For example, partnership can even be something like a student code of conduct. In a way, you are partnering with the administration. Another way that partnership works in the case of Geneseo, you pay tuition and get housing and the school offers you services and education in return. The thing about the rules/codes/laws is that they’re always changing to accommodate any changes. One important thing about one being having control over another is that the people under control should have a voice to say when a rule needs to be changed. This is part of the partnership, acknowledging when your other partner is wrong or, is vital to keeping it healthy and working. 

When going through this course, a loose instruction/guidance was more of the style. We would post something on a forum and it would be interpreted by the other students or Beth. The students are trusted to be honest with one another and truthful to themselves about how much they have really grown from taking this course. One thing that I really liked in this course that I just realized was that the different discussions are grouped together in 4 groups. The first part was “Foundations in Good Faith”. A lot of this part was to try and get us to understand ourselves as writers and readers, and had us read the short story “Bloodchild” in which the course epigraph comes from. I think this first part and the goal setting essay was vital to the rest of the parts to follow. The second part was labeled “Implicit BIas” and this one led us to explore what bias we had set in our brains, and how we could overcome these to become neutral. We kept this concept in mind while looking back at “Bloodchild”. The third part was labeled “Rules for Partnership”, and this was one of the most important parts just because of the name of the course and the course epigraph. There are certain rules, risks, and rewards (the three R’s if you will) that come with the concept of partnership. Lastly, we ended with Harm, Repair, Care. These are the four sections that I will have separated my argument into, by explaining how each one contributes to the throughline which is just how partnerships can generate both risks and rewards.

One of the most important pieces of a partnership is the foundations on which it was built upon. The two main characters in the story “Bloodchild” were Gan, a Terran, and T’Gatoi a Tlic. In this realm, the Tlic basically have control over the Terran and use them as breeding machines in which they implant their into. T’Gatoi has been with Gan’s family for as long as he can remember, and it was his house that “she considered her second home”. Gan’s family meant a lot to T’Gatoi, but not just because she had known them for so long, but because her next offspring were to be born from one of the children, either Gan, his sister or his very reluctant brother. To keep the Terran healthy, they were fed sterile eggs which increased their life span, so they could keep producing offspring. Many Tlic saw Terran as just things, but T’Gatoi really appreciated this group of Terran, especially Gan and his mother. But, despite this deep connection she still had to create offspring with basically an older child (which is the normal age but I still find a bit weird), since it was vital to her kind’s survival. Such a deep foundation formed between T’Gatoi and Gan made the mating a little more difficult because there were so many emotions involved.

When a partnership forms, there will never be 100% satisfaction with a counterpart. It’s very unlikely that there are no differences or disagreements between the two. Some of these may stem from biases that they had against each other before knowing the other one well. Towards the end of the story when Gan is about to get T’Gatoi’s egg inserted into him, there is some hesitation in him. This hesitation comes from seeing her having to take a Tlic’s eggs out of a Terran in his own home. Gan experienced many traumas during this period of events. He saw how bad the other Terran, Lomas, was hurting, he had to kill an animal, and then watched most of the process of T’Gatoi cutting Lomas open to retrieve the nearly ready egg. As he was watching her do this, he was most focused on Lomas because if he chose to be the recipient of T’Gatoi’s eggs this would have to happen to him as well. Gan watched as “his body convulsed with the first cut” and watched the whole process as this happened several more times. He then got queasy and threw up outside. So, if something like this happened to me while going through the decision making process of whether or not to have it implanted, it would definitely be one of the deciding factors. For Gan, it proved to be an internal battle, but he eventually decided that he would cast away any doubt he had about it because he knew that T’Gatoi would take care of him as she always had before. 

One of the most important things that impacted this story was the nature of the partnerships between the Terran and Tlic. The rules of the partnership were basically that the Tlic held the power over the other party. T’Gatoi was actually the “government official in charge of the Preserve”, so she had quite a high status. This didn’t change anything between her and her second family though, since she had been a part of it for so long. In return for protecting and providing for the Terran, the Tlic got to use them for receptacles of their eggs. Partnerships come with risks as well, and for the Terran one of them was death from the removal process of these eggs. It was a risk they were willing to take to ensure their protection in the Tlic society, in the Preserve. There are also rewards, as Gan and his family enjoy the sterilized eggs which inhibit a longer, healthier life. The risks for the Tlic were that at any moment the Terran could rebel against their control. This could either end up with no more Terran or just unfaithful Terran that won’t comply. A whole different society. For this reason, “firearms were illegal in the Preserve”. The rewards of this partnership to the Tlic is that they can make a good life for their offspring and they have a good way to birth them.

Lastly, the Harm, Repair, Care part can be shown in T’Gatoi’s relationship with Gan. He was scared of the harm that he could endure by birthing an offspring of a Tlic. Eventually, this was repaired as she said to Gan that she would “take care of [him]” as he went through this whole process. Of course she should, but I’m sure there are some Tlic that don’t care as much about their Terran as T’Gatoi does Gan. She would ensure that he was safe because she cared for him greatly and wanted him to be a part of her life. He felt the same way about her and really put trust in her. Sure, his trust had wavered for a short time, but he found it in his heart that she really would do her best.

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.