Slavery in “Bloodchild” is Only Seen if it is Brought to Ones Attention

Today’s class and group discussions brought up many points that are both agreeable and disagreeable in Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”.  We discussed what Butler wanted “Bloodchild” to represent and what she didn’t want the story to represent. While we were in our groups we discussed both of these aspects and what we personally felt “Bloodchild” represented.

My first time through reading “Bloodchild” I didn’t see the slavery aspect at all. The idea of slavery never crossed my mind. When I read the Afterword and saw “that some people have seen “Bloodchild” as a story of slavery” amazed me (“Bloodchild” 30). I still had a hard time seeing this idea come across within this work. I thought to myself how could one argue this? I don’t see it! Well…today in our group discussion Andre discussed how he personally had seen it to be a possible slave story. Andre brought out parts of the text that would support the idea of it being a story of slavery. One particular passage(s) he pointed out was when T’Gatoi’s body was referred to as a cage. Seeing this point of view through someone else’s opinion opened my eyes and realize the possibility that it could be a story about slavery.

Depending if one reads this story as a slave story or not a slave story could effect ones emotional response to the story. My first time reading it through (not as a slavery story) I sort of chuckled. I found myself thinking it was almost like a “cheesy horror” movie that was poorly made. I think my emotions felt like this for the simple fact that the story wasn’t long enough to unpack even more details. But when Andre brought up the valid points about the story possibly being a story of slavery I reread it. When I read it the second time (as a story of slavery) I developed a whole different set of emotions. When I read the story like this I felt more emotionally attached to T’Gatoi’s victims. I find T’Gatoi as an awful creature with no morals who is ugly on the outside and the inside. Where as before I only looked at T’Gatoi as ugly on the outside. After reading the story from both points of view I now can see how one would easily argue that this is a slavery story, but I think it is only obvious if it is brought to ones attention (Thanks Andre).

Also… here is an interesting article I found by Kristen Lillvis from Marshall University.

Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Slavery? The Problem and Promise of Mothering in Octavia E. Butler’s “Bloodchild”

1 thought on “Slavery in “Bloodchild” is Only Seen if it is Brought to Ones Attention

  1. Good point Clarissa and you’re welcome. Your second read which invoked a new interpretation as a result of the class discussion highlights the point of subjectivity. You had another lens to interpret Octavia Butler’s story, “Bloodchild” from following the class period. In contrast to when I read it in another class, following our reading of Slave Narratives as Dr. McCoy emphasized, I could not help but notice the instances of slavery depicted within the story. It amazes me how people find pleasure in their choices; choices they feel strongly are completely theirs. Speaking for myself, though it is not a huge issue, let alone an issue at all, I was displeased that the lens which I read Butler’s “Bloodchild” from was not completely my own. My choice, as I realized, was influenced. That realization allowed me to realize a conflict of some sort. Because on one hand, I could say that once I read those narratives, the thoughts I developed about them became my thoughts. Those thoughts were now under my control, thus it became a lens which I had then owned. As a result, reading “Bloodchild” in the way I desired was my choice. However, on the other hand, I did not realize that I had made that choice until it was brought to my attention during the class discussion. This now lets me question, when we say we are subjective (and I do believe we cannot be completely subjective), is that subjectivity really ours, or is it in the ownership of someone or something else – another mind perhaps? I shall speak about this “mind” in a later post. In someways, perhaps, and as can see, I gave you a lens to read Butler’s work from. Now it is yours. Or is it?

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