In Octavia E. Butler’s short story “Blood Child”, the group of people called Terrans is shown from a young age, what to expect before being implanted by a species called the Tlic. As the story progresses, we get an understanding of the knowledge that is shared with the Terrans in preparation for this sort of “coming-of-age”. High school students are like the Terrans while older people who have gone through college are like the Tlic. The common theme is that sometimes you may experience things differently compared to how they have been described to you.
Octavia Butler’s “Blood Child and Other Stories” is a story of two alien species that must learn to coexist together. The species whose planet this takes place on are known as Tlic while the “invaders” are known as Terran. Through time the two species manage to come to compromises and agreements that allow for them to live together. One of these agreements included the creation of the Preserve, a safe space for the Terran to live on the Tlic planet. Another agreement that the two species came to was that each Terran family would give up one of their children to be implanted with Tlic eggs for reproduction. The story itself is narrated by a Terran child named Gan and he mainly interacts with a Tlic by the name of T’Gatoi. T’Gatoi is a highly-ranking Tlic politician who works closely with Terrans and on page 5 of “Blood Child and Other Stories” by Octavia E. Butler she is described as a key contributor to the Preserve and protecting innocent Terran children from the “desperate” masses of Tlic. Gan’s mother at some point had promised T’Gatoi one of her children to be implanted as part of the Terran-Tlic agreement. On page 13, Gan describes how T’Gatoi had begun to show “diagrams and drawings” of this process and made sure that once Gan was old enough, he knew the truth. Throughout his childhood, Gan had been prepared for this night with T’Gatoi yet once he became witness to the result of this process he became petrified. On page 21 of “Blood Child and Other Stories”, after witnessing Lomas being cut open in this process, Gan says to his older brother Qui, “It’s not supposed to happen that way.”. This was Gan’s way of expressing that what he had been told and shown about this “coming-of-age” event was not true and portrayed in a much different way than the harsh reality that it is. I believe that this is comparable to the way that college was described compared to how it truly feels.
For some people growing up, college was seen as a standard, a non-negotiable of life that when you graduate high school your parents would send you to college. For others it was optional and for some, it was never expected out of them but regardless of their plans, almost everyone has heard someone try to convince them to go to college or tell them how it was the best years of their life. I see this as the equivalent to the showing of “diagrams and drawings” that were shown to the Terran children growing up as mentioned on page 13 of “Blood Child and Other Stories”. Throughout our childhood, we hear the college stories of years past, in preparation for what’s to come, and oftentimes these stories are filled with laughter, fun, and joy but I believe the way that college is portrayed to people is oftentimes not what they truly experience. People frequently describe how they’ve made friends at college that will last a lifetime. For some, these standards don’t even have to be said, for instance when a parent’s college friend ends up being a godparent or a close enough friend that you call them aunt or uncle. I found out that reality can be different than the expectations and standards that you’ve been shown. I’ve truly enjoyed my time here at Geneseo and I appreciate everyone I’ve met and that I am friends with but when I think about the times of my life filled with the most happiness, surrounded by my best friends, I think of home. Coming to this reality has been hard and at times it has been truly crushing. I spent all my life living up to college in anticipation of the most exciting and fun years of my life when in reality I was already living in those years. This is where I most closely relate to Gan. Gan begins “Blood Child and Other Stories” on page 3 with the sentence “My last night of childhood began with a visit home”. Gan is describing the night he was implanted by T’Gatoi, the moment he’s been preparing for his entire life, and he begins it by calling it the end of his childhood. College was my night with T’Gatoi. This experience that I’ve been dreaming about quickly shut down into the harsh reality of life. There was no comfort, no privacy, and most importantly, it wasn’t home. All of these things that I had been told growing up were crumbling before my own eyes. Something I remember being told specifically was that I would be lifelong friends with whoever my roommate happened to be. After meeting and living with my roommate for a week I knew this was not someone that I could see as this lifelong friend whom I’d have a great bond with. At first, it was hard for me to accept this reality because I couldn’t understand how my experiences could relate to any of the ones that had been shared with me. I then had a talk similar to that of Gan and his older brother Qui on page 23 of “Blood Child and Other Stories” where he was able to elaborate that this is how college truly was. The reality of college is that you may not connect with some people who you will be surrounded by 24/7. It is also true that the “diagrams and drawings” that I created in my head of college were not harsh enough. College sounded like an extension of childhood filled with fun but it is the end of childhood filled with responsibilities and discomfort.
I feel as though if we express college in its true light, an environment that is uncomfortable and filled with stress, it could help students be better prepared for coming to college. If people fully understood what to expect coming into college then the dropout and transfer rates should be lower. If there is expressed knowledge on college living given to students beforehand I believe that the number of students who are transferring or dropping out due to factors such as stress or being uncomfortable would decrease. Uncomfortable situations become more comfortable the more familiar you are with the situation so if we get this real knowledge of the raw college experience out to students they can be better equipped to face the challenges that await them. Students won’t feel as nervous coming into college and perhaps could be more open to the challenge of college. The best way to go about this would be to get students to give a true point of view of a day in their life. Oftentimes schools make videos about a day in the life of a student on campus but these videos almost always show just the bright parts of your day without highlighting the stress and frustration the day may produce. Students would get the most out of a video that showed everything about a college day including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
All in all, “Blood Child and Other Stories” by Octavia E. Butler highlights the idea that sometimes things are different than the way they’ve been portrayed to us. I find this to be similar to the way college gets described to students before attending college. If students were more aware of the harsh reality that college ends childhood and begins adulthood they would be better prepared to move forward.