“A world that isn’t your own”

Bloodchild Essay Final Draft

Octavia Butler’s short story “Bloodchild”explores and illuminates the risks and rewards of coming of age. Main character Gan and his family are Terrans who have settled on an alien-like planet and live alongside the Tlic, alien-like creatures. In the text it describes T’Gatoi the Tlic that lives with Gans family with “bones-ribs, a long spine, a skull and four sets of limb bones per segment” (pg 9). Despite their differences the relationship has been around for generations, helping one another ensure their survival. The Tlic protect and offer the Terrans a place to live in exchange for a place to implant their eggs. Undergoing the implantation of a Tlic egg is seen as a gruesome process, in order for this a Terran must be cut open in the abdomen. Gan shares a negative experience of this when he has to witness and help another Terran, he explains it as “I felt as though I were helping her torture him, helping her consume him, I knew I would vomit soon…”(pg15). Gan was chosen and prepared since birth to undergo this experience but after what he sees he is unsure. He is forced to make the tough decision of sacrificing himself or his sister. His story brings us through this fast process of growing up and how he navigates through this important phase with confidence and resilience. Gan’s responses and actions to the challenging decision help T’Gatoi better understand and connect with him. This new level of connection could benefit the future Tlic and Terrans relationships that will eventually go through the same experiences. Similar to “Bloodchild” there is no escaping growing up in the world we live in today, it is a part of life and a change that everyone experiences. Talking more openly about growing up and the challenges it entails, we can create a supportive environment that helps young people navigate through this important phase of life with confidence and resilience.

Upon arriving at Geneseo, I came to the realization that the night before my arrival could have been seen as my final night of childhood. Attending college is a significant milestone or turning point in most lives. In some cases it’s an expectation, in others it’s a choice. For me college has been a targeted goal throughout my life. I wanted to explore a different environment other than my small hometown, to get out there, meet new people and experience new things was a big goal of mine and I knew college would do just that. Almost everything I have done, clubs, sports, volunteer work, etc has been in preparation for college. My parents had high standards and pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. In my eyes going to college marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood. It’s typically the first time many individuals live away from their parents or guardians. This new level of independence includes making decisions about academics, personal life, finances and relationships. I am responsible for managing my own schedule, attending classes, completing assignments and handling various aspects of daily life without the influence of my parents. As I try to create here what Butler terms as “a livable space” in “a world that isn’t your own” I will come across many risks and rewards. Having the freedom to make these decisions could come with risks, making the wrong choices could put you or others in danger. Although there are risks, the coming of age experience also offers numerous rewards and opportunities. Self development is one such benefit, allowing individuals to discover their authentic selves through the formation of relationships that contribute to the cultivation of inner strength and independence.

Gan and I have similar coming of age stories because they both mark significant transitions to adulthood. His transition involves accepting his responsibilities in the Tlic society. From a young age he was expected to host the eggs of T’Gatoi. In the text it states “I’m told I was first caged within T’Gatoi’s many limbs only three minutes after my birth” (pg.8). Gans expectations in life were set as early as his birth when he was chosen for this role by his mother. Gan faces risks and rewards in his role. He gets benefits like his family living in the preserve and receiving eggs for longer life, but risks his health during the egg implantation. The way Gan handles this responsibility from his family is similar to the way I handled the expectation of attending college from mine. I have been raised my whole life, from as early as kindergarten to my final years of high school in preparation to attend college. My family had all attended college and it was an expectation that I did too. Like Gan I made tough decisions in order to pursue this goal and expectation. I remember trying out for teams where I knew not a single person, I would commit a lot of my time and miss out on a lot of things. It was a tough decision but I chose to sacrifice that to get better in order to reach my goal of playing collegiate lacrosse. This experience guided me for this transition, I came into college with the knowledge that it’s okay to be uncomfortable or overwhelmed and that with time things get better. I have also had a job since my first year of highschool. Working four times a week, some even school nights helped me learn time management. I would attend school, go to the gym, attend work and still find time for homework and studying. This skill is very beneficial for college and my future overall giving me confidence and resilience in managing my time beneficially. With that being said my reward would be getting to be here furthering my education and self growth. Being on my own and having the freedom to control my own responsibilities will help me mature and find myself at the next level which in my eyes is seen as a passage into adulthood. My risk of this expectation could be putting my body in danger. Without the guidance or control of my parents in this new place, I could make poor decisions, not getting enough sleep, consuming something I should not have or even an injury I don’t take care of could all result in putting my body in danger.

Another example of how Gans coming of age story is similar to mine is we both have built relationships. In the text it states “and to keep you for myself, I said, it was so, I didn’t understand it but it was so” (pg 28). Gans relationship with T’Gatoi is central to this story. They share a bond that is both intimate and fraught with tension. On the one hand, there is a reward for the trust and affection between them, as T’Gatoi genuinely cares for Gan’s well-being and vice versa, like in the quote Gan comes to the realization that he would take on T’Gatoi’s eggs not someone else because he wanted her for himself. On the other hand, there is a risk for the power dynamics in their relationship, stemming from the biological control the Tlic have over humans, creating a sense of unease and dependence. The Tlic seem to have more control, they have made rules such as guns being illegal because of an incident in the past where a Terran used one on an Tlic. The way Gan built a relationship is closely related to the way I have developed mine. Coming into college, I knew I would have to say goodbye to my friends and family, not forever but I knew it would not be the same when I got back. A risk of this could be homesickness, maybe even anxiety and depression, if this becomes serious it could also affect one’s health. Leaving behind people who make you who you are and who are a part of your everyday life can be a very difficult transition. College can also create many new relationships. Building relationships with peers, professors, and mentors could open up connections which will shape your future. Reaching out or becoming close to a professor can help them see and understand what you are as a person and what you are feeling. This could be seen as a reward for getting out in the world, learning about different cultures and diversities, getting used to being outside your comfort zone which allows you to grow as an individual.

“Bloodchild” serves as a thought-provoking exploration of the journey from adolescence to adulthood, mirroring the challenges and rewards faced by both the characters in the story and students like myself entering college. Just as Gan navigates a complex relationship with the Tlic, we too will embark on a new chapter filled with risks and rewards. The transition to college symbolizes the end of our childhood, with newfound independence and responsibilities. This freedom carries risks, as the choices we make can impact our well-being and future. Yet, it also brings opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth, allowing us to shape our identities and build relationships that contribute to our inner strength. Growing up is a fundamental part of human life, there is no avoiding it. By talking more openly about growing up and the challenges it entails, we can create a supportive environment that helps young people navigate through this important phase of life with confidence and resilience. It also allows adults to better understand and connect with the younger generation. Like T’Gatoi and Gan, the mutual understanding between generations promotes respect, cooperation and shared wisdom, benefiting everyone involved.

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