All posts by Clarissa Swain

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”

Pickens vs. Butler- In my perspective

As I was reading Theri Pickens article “You’re Supposed to Be a Tall, Handsome, Fully Grown White Man” for my annotated bibliography, I found myself stopping a lot to “scratch my head” at what she was saying. As I was reading her article I found myself rethinking some of my opinions about Fledgling, but at the same time I felt the need to defend the way Butler developed her novel.

One example in this article that had me thinking was Pickens ability to call Shori a protagonist (Pickens 34). Yes I would agree that Shori is probably more of a protagonist then most characters BUT I am not sure how one can call her a protagonist when she is constantly manipulating her symbionts. Shori knows she is stronger then most of her symbionts, where she feels like she can control them. Because of Shori’s ability to control them so easily makes it hard for me to believe that she is the protagonist. I feel as if she is taking advantage of a weaker power which is something a protagonist shouldn’t be doing. The idea of this power struggle within Butler’s work relates back to my previous post, referring to the two videos we watched in class and “Mind of My Mind”.

The point in Pickens article where she was talking about Wright wanting to hide his relationship with Shori was the real “thinker” for me. Pickens’ feels that the relationship is hidden because of the idea that interracial relationships where not acceptable during this time (Pickens 43). This very well may have been Butler’s intention, but at the same time I don’t know how Pickens didn’t argue or bring up the fact Shori’s and Wright’s age  (based on physical appearance) is so different. Throughout her entire article she never mentioned this idea as being wrong. Which when I read Fledgling I got more of the feeling that Butler was more focused on age between Shori and Wright and not race.

Like I previously stated Pickens has created some wonderful arguments within her article that made me rethink some of my opinions on Fledgling but I feel like I was “scratching my head” with some of these arguments, not agreeing with her.

Below you will find the link to Pickens article, which Beth has already provided for us:

“You’re Supposed to Be a Tall, Handsome, Fully Grown White Man”

Your own POWER being used against you

Connecting the relevance of the two videos we watched in class yesterday  to “Mind of My Mind” brought up interesting points during our groups discussion.   One idea that I brought up during our discussion is the idea of power control within “Mind of My Mind” and the videos. In “Mind of MY Mind” I see Doro as the controller pretty much throughout the entire novel despite the fact he dies at the end. Untimely at the end of the novel Doro has absolutely no more control because of his death. I personally feel the same goes for the “Tech People” in these videos from class. They are clearly more powerful because they are taking over parts of the neighborhood due to their technology and greater amounts of money. They feel they control the people in the neighborhood because they have this stuff they may not, which very well maybe true. But what I find ironic is the fact the “techs” won’t back down until their own technology is used against them. As soon as the kids who have always lived in the neighborhood start recording the “techs” they easily back down from the situation. So the kids are are using the “techs” own “power” against them. I feel that the idea of power is a repetitive theme throughout Butler’s novels. There is always someone of a higher power taking advantage of someone of a lower power, until their own power is used against them. Who’s sorry then?

Polyandry In The Human and Ina World

In the Ina culture the idea of multiple “partners” is acceptable. What I find strange is that a person in the Ina culture can have multiple humans as symbiont, where in most of human culture we find it unacceptable to have multiple partners.  If it is so unacceptable to have multiple partners in the “human world,” why are humans becoming a part of the “Ina World?” Even though in Fledgling we see how seductive an Ina bite can be and it may be hard to break free from it, there are still opportunities to leave. Throughout the novel there have been times where Shori told Wright that he could leave and just forget about her, but he never did because he became too attached. Is the idea of the “human world” being taken over and controlled by the “Ina world” throughout this novel?

For a lot of people in the “human world” having multiple partners “defaults” to the idea of polygamy, when a man has many woman partners. After doing some research on polygamy in the “human world,” I found an article entitled When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense, on polyandry. Polyandry is the practice with one wife that has multiple husbands. Even though in Fledgling it is different in the sense there is one woman to multiple males and/or females, there are still other situations that can occur which are similar. In the article they refer to a recent paper in Human Nature co-authored by two anthropologists (Katherine Starkweather and Raymond Hames) that found 53 anthropological accounts of societies that recognize and allow polyandrous unions. Half of these groups are considered “hunter-gatherer societies.” These societies could be related to that of the Ina culture. For example, early on in Fledgling Shori survives by hunting for her food and gathering stuff such as clothes to help her survive. Continuing on through the novel Shori and her Ina group gather what is left behind from the humans when they attack.

Given the similarities, the “Ina world” and the human polyandry world could be said to be similar or even the same.  Polyandry allows women to be in control (in this case Shori), giving a new sense of feminism!



Article: When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense

‘Yes Means Yes’

Recent discussions in class has continuously brought up, what we feel like is an inappropriate relationship between Shori and Wright in Fledgling. Even though in the Ina culture Shori is 53, Wright (a fully grown man) and us readers see her as a 11 or 12 year old girl. Despite the fact that Wright sees her as a ” young girl” he is okay with developing an inappropriate sexual relationship with her. In my mind I am thinking “What makes him think this is okay…considering he is a human and not yet apart of the Ina culture where it is acceptable?” Is Shori really consenting to this sexual relationship?

Recently in the news we hear about government officials creating the college campus rape policy ‘Yes Means Yes’. One question surrounding this law is “what does yes mean in this situation?” The Article, Campus Rape: The Problem With ‘Yes Means Yes’ discusses this issue. One of the bill’s co-authors, Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal said “that the affirmative consent standard means a person must say ‘yes.'” Where as feminist writer Amanda Hess points out “that consent can include nonverbal cues such as body language.”

Given the two opinions of these women, is Shori consenting to this relationship? On pages 11-12 in the novel we see the dialogue between Shori and Wright “…”Do I?” He lifted me, squeezed past the division between the seats to my side of the car, and put me on his lap. “Let me bite you again,” I whispered. He smiled. “If I do, what will you let me do?” I heard consent in his voice…”

Depending on what opinion you feel is right out of Lowenthal and Hess’ (from the article) could change the reading and understanding of Shori and Wright’s relationship. Regardless of what consent is, it’s still weird to understand their relationship because the norms in our society.


Link to the article: