Butler, Bloodchild, and Botflies

Hello all!

*** I will attach links to websites at the end of the post with botfly-related images***

After reading Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, I decided to do some more research on one of the inspirations behind the story…botflies.

With regards to these somewhat terrifying insects, Butler states, “In particular, I was worried about the botfly- an insect with, what seemed to me then, horror movie habits.” After doing some more research of my own, I see now why she refers to these pests as having “horror movie habits”.

Introducing The Botfly:

  • found in Central and South America
  • 12-18mm long
  • “bumblebee appearance”
  • eggs transported through blood-feeding insects or injected staight into host (ew!)
  • eggs hatch when there is a temp. change ( ex. the intake of blood from an insect)
  • Cattle & dogs are common hosts
  • larvae cause D. hominis myiasis (skin lesions) in humans
  • treatment in humans involves a simple surgical procedureOne aspect of the botfly that is the most prominent in Butler’s work is the egg laying/larvae process. In the story, we can see this with Bram Lomas and his condition. Much like the hosts of the botfly, Lomas was infected. When T’ Gatoi cuts into Lomas’ body, she finds several “grubs” infested in his skin, eating away at his flesh. Furthermore, T’ Gatoi places several parasitic worms from Lomas into the belly of an achti so that they can burrow and grow. Similarly, botflies lay their eggs in hosts so that they can grow and thrive.

    Like Butler, writing about these insects did make them seem more interesting (but for me they are still terrifying!




An Unlikely Marriage

It was a pleasant surprise to find last week that I enjoyed “Bloodchild” even more the second time I had to read it for a class. Part of the cause for my newfound enjoyment was probably knowing what to expect. I was prepared for the visceral rejection I felt when reading descriptions of T’Gatoi’s arthropodal form, when reading about what I consider to be an unhealthy relationship, when reading about interspecies impregnation. In many ways, the story Butler claimed to write as an inoculation against her fears worked as a vaccine against my own discomfort as well (Butler, 30). But I think a far more significant source of joy in my second time through the short story was its pairing with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. They seemed an unlikely match to me on syllabus day, but, having taken classes with Dr. McCoy before, I decided to swallow my preconceptions about both works and enthusiastically observe the conversation in which they were engaged. Continue reading “An Unlikely Marriage”

“Paying The Rent” as a College Student

In Friday’s class, we briefly discussed the concept of how people have to “pay the rent” in life. Dr. McCoy brought up an idea that would involve exploring how students pay the rent while attending school. After class, I started to think of ways that as a student I am undoubtedly “paying the rent” in regards to doing things that I would not necessarily do, but are obligated to because of certain circumstances. Students pay the rent in obvious ways such as attending class, completing their homework, writing papers, etc. But there are several other ways that we pay the rent that aren’t as obvious.

There are certain social interactions that are necessary such as the natural human tendencies to want to make connections with other people. We are often thrown into situations in college where we are out of our comfort zone and feel a sense of duty to make the most of the experience we are given. While this experience is filled with both positive and negative attributes, paying the rent refers more to the negative aspects of college that we pay attention to. Sometimes you’re going to be doing group work with people you don’t get along with. Other times you will run into the exact person you are trying to avoid. Living on a college campus and attending school will often put you in very stressful situations that you would not encounter otherwise. But we all pay the price in exchange for several benefits such as receiving a college diploma and growing as a human being from these unique experiences. As long as paying the price ultimately rewards you with something you deem important, the small sacrifices made are worth it.

The concept of “paying the rent” is also prominent in Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” because some circumstances that Gan ends up in deal with issues that address a lack of consent and a lack of awareness for what he was getting himself into. In the same way that we consent to attending college but do not consent to the struggles that are embedded in it, Gan does not entirely consent to what he experiences when he agrees to help T’Gatoi. T’Gatoi’s warns him that what he was going to experience would be bad, but Gan could never fully consent to the gruesomeness of what he was about to see. Even after agreeing to help her, she instructs him to help in ways that Gan did not feel comfortable doing. For example, she viciously instructs Gan to help her by having him kill an animal:

“I want no argument from you this time Gan” she said.

I straightened. “What shall I do?”

“Go out and slaughter an animal that is at least half your size.”

“Slaughter? But I’ve never—”

She knocked me across the room. Her tail was an efficient weapon whether she exposed the sting or not (Butler, page 6).

Gan, after feeling threatened by T’Gatoi, helped her save a N’Tlic’s life that had arrived at their door pleading for help. Gan wanted to help T’Gatoi because he has so much respect for her, but he did not know the extent of what he was getting himself into. In a way, Gan is “paying the rent” by offering to help T’Gatoi without really realizing what he needed to do in order to help. The experience of helping T’Gatoi save the N’Tlic man was quite disturbing. Even if Gan decided he was not ready to help, he was already in a situation which pushed him to experience more than he may have wanted to.

“Paying the rent” in any situation causes individuals to end up in scenarios they may not have consented to. In life, we are obligated to complete certain tasks and put ourselves in certain situations where we are not comfortable. “Paying the rent” ensures a level of discomfort; but we must weigh this discomfort with the benefits that it can have. By attending college, you get certain rewards for all of the struggled you faced without your consent. Additionally, Gan benefited from “paying the rent” because he was able to gain respect from T’Gatoi and his family for his commendable and heroic actions. Although he struggled in doing so, he gets to obtain the reward from his actions. There are benefits to “paying the rent” if you are willing to deal with the struggles that are guaranteed with it.  


An author’s intent vs. what a reader perceives

On Friday, Dr. McCoy brought up the difficulties Octavia Butler had with her readers’ reactions to Bloodchild, namely the insistence that it was about slavery, even though Butler herself said that it wasn’t. This is something that all writers struggle with; how can I make the themes of my story, poem, etc. clear to readers? How can I be sure that they will understand the message I’m trying to convey?

Continue reading “An author’s intent vs. what a reader perceives”

What brought and bound Romeo and Juliet

When posed the questions what brings people together and what binds people together it’s hard to distinguish between the two because it’s possible to bring and bind people simultaneously. However, by definition bring and bind are different.

In class, we mentioned some examples of what brings people together. They were location, upbringing, chance, choice, religion, culture, language, hardships, and similar goals. On the other hand, when we discussed what binds people we said religion, blood ties, perception of an event, going through a tragedy, documentation, and lasting through time. My thinking process for this class began with this: Continue reading “What brought and bound Romeo and Juliet”

Marriage, Shakespeare’s Elizabethan Era, and Modern Day America

After discussing the significance of the use of the word “eye” and the role physical beauty has in William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, it sparked some debate about marriage in the Elizabethan era and its relevance in Modern Day America. Was this because of the patriarchy and the social constructs of Shakespeare’s time, or was this simply just a case of love at first sight? Continue reading “Marriage, Shakespeare’s Elizabethan Era, and Modern Day America”

“What’s in a Name?” Categorization in Butler’s Fiction and Romeo+Juliet

In an interview with Randall Kenan, Octavia Butler spends a great deal of time resisting the labels Kenan presents to her. Immediately, she is contrary to the idea that her writing might be “speculative fiction” rather than science fiction or fantasy (Francis, 27). While reading “Bloodchild,” select interviews with Butler, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet I considered the ways language categorizes people and what the resistance to such labels says about those people. In this post, I tried to reconcile my readings with what Butler talks about in her interviews. Continue reading ““What’s in a Name?” Categorization in Butler’s Fiction and Romeo+Juliet”

Reaction to Bloodchild

Before diving into the main focus I wish to present within this blog post, I would just like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. I was completely unable to predict where the story would go at any point within this work and that made this reading all the more enjoyable.

What I wish to discuss here is the relationship between the Tlic and humans and whether this connection is mutualistic or parasitic. For clarification purposes, mutualism will be defined as having both parties benefit from the abilities of the other. However, parasitic will be defined as a one-sided relationship in which only one party benefits and has the potential to harm the second party. Continue reading “Reaction to Bloodchild”

Some Defining Fun

Hello folks!

So during our discussion today when we were trying to answer the questions “What brings people together?” and “What binds people together,” I was thinking about how helpful it would be if I had the definitions of the words ‘bring‘ and ‘bind‘ right in front of me. Even if I had looked them up in class, we would not have had enough time to really analyze them because there was a lot of other good stuff being thrown around. So for this kind of scattered blog post, I am going to attach the links to the google definition of each word. Continue reading “Some Defining Fun”