Addicting Parasitism

Wednesday’s lecture really got me thinking about Octavia Butler’s Fledging a little more in depth. We discussed the concept of parasitism, which is a symbiotic relationship that is non-mutual between two different species. I researched parasitism a bit further and learned that in parasitism, one party benefits from taking something from the other. Some examples of parasitism that I found were between fleas and animals (a dog for an example) and tapeworms and animals, such as a dog (yes, I know. Not pleasant). This is EXTREMELY similar to Ina biting humans in order to benefit from their blood to receive nourishment. Once one party receives this benefit, the other is harmed. This is technically true in Fledging as the Ina feed off of their symbionts and make them temporarily weak.

The Ina need blood to live and they need it in order to survive. This whole concept made me take a HUGE step back and influenced me to analyze this novel a bit further. Does this mean that Ina bites are unethical even though they are essential to their survival? Is it ethical to take something from something else for nourishment even though it will not be to their benefit? Although I understand that it is Ina culture to have multiple symbionts to feed off of, from an outsider’s stand point I found this phenomenon extremely selfish overall. I, for one would not want to consent to some vampire feeding off of me and taking me away from my life. However, once Shori bit someone they immediately wanted to stay with her forever. Is this consent? After, parasitic relationships are non-mutual….

Theodora’s life was lost because of Shori’s addictive venom and her ability to attract her into her lifestyle. When Theodora died, I could not help but feel sad due to the fact that she had a former life outside of Shori and a daughter who truly cared about her. Parasitism exists in nature, and the relationships between Ina and their human symbionts acts as a form of it which I never really considered. Does this make it natural? In Butler’s world, the Ina exists and in our world different parasites exist. In the NECSI article that I have referenced, it states that the parasite and the host evolve with one another. In Fledging, when an Ina feeds off one of their symbionts, they evolve by becoming healthier and having the ability to live longer.


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