After Friday’s class, I left with so many questions…just like the rest of you. One thing that I left with was how similar Big Machine by Victor LaValle has become to Bloodchild by Octavia Butler. When we read Bloodchild earlier this semester, I was left with so many questions about our society, and the same questions are beginning to rise in Big Machine as well. I am unsure if Octavia was an inspiration for Victor, but I would like to believe so.
Something that has stood out to me in both works of literature is the concept of interdependence. Interdependence is where two or more people or things are dependent on each other. For instance, think about our class! Without the students, our professor would have no one to educate, and without our professor, there would be no one to create a syllabus, choose what we read, urge us to respond to our readings, and simply educate us; the relationship with the teacher and student is interdependent. This same type of relationship is clear in the work McCoy has chosen for us to read- Bloodchild and Big Machine. In Octavia’s work, we see how the aliens rely on humans to keep their species from becoming extinct. Without male humans (Terrans) acting as hosts for the Tlics (aliens), then there would be no hope for their kind. If the Terrans refuse to be a host, then they are no longer welcome to live on the Tlics planet. Therefore, we see the interdependence between the two species; a host for a host. In Big Machine, there is a similar relationship between the Dean and the Scholars. Without the Dean, the library wouldn’t function, there would be no one to make decisions, and no one bringing the scholars together in the first place. Without the scholars, the Dean would have no one to work for him, searching for clues, working late nights..do you see the interdependence?
When reading my classmate’s blog posts, I bumped into Mikhayla Grahm’s blog post “The Epigraph” In her post, she wrote “… I realized how many times in the section from Friday we see just how much distrust Ricky truly has for the people around him, and we learn some reasons as to why he could be this way”. This comment made me think of the clear distrust in Bloodchild as well. When Gan sees how a baby is delivered, he realizes he does not want to do this, he doesn’t trust the Tlics and specifically T’Gatoi to take care of him. This concept of trust is also between Gan and his mother; how can he trust his mother if she would so easily offer Gan to host a baby/parasite (a question I will address later..keep reading) even if she knew how gruesome and unnatural the process is? In the end, Gan decides to host the Tlic in order to protect his sister from being the next choice, or an act of love…that’s up to the reader to decide. The point I make is that Gan in Bloodchild and Ricky in Big Machine are so similar; I can argue that Octavia Butler planted the seeds for Victor LaValle.
The question I raised in class on Friday was ” To what extent is the pregnancy of Ricky considered to be pregnant with a baby or parasite, or is it a gray area?”. This same question was raised in Bloodchild with Gan, where Tlics cannot bear their own young and must use the male Terrans as hosts. Here, Gan is impregnated with a child, however many don’t see this as a “baby” but a “parasite”. The reason behind this, behind both Ricky and Gans case, is that the conception was not natural. However, does that make the life growing inside the host… not a baby? The definition of a baby is “a very young child, especially one newly or recently born”, but it doesn’t specify the species. Whereas a parasite is “an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense”…both definitions are according to Merriam Webster. Basically…we are parasites before we are born, and then we are a baby? Honestly, I fall more in the gray area on this topic. One of my classmates said in McCoy’s class that “a baby isn’t a baby until they are breathing outside of the womb” but I strongly disagree. At a certain point in pregnancy, it is no longer a fetus but a baby …and it is considered one once they are breathing, doesn’t matter if they are in or out of the womb. The question I ask you all, and urge you to respond to is “Can we distinguish the impregnation of Gan and Ricky as being pregnant with a baby or parasite…or is it far more complicated than that?”.