Gan, the narrator of Octavia Butler’s short story “Bloodchild ,” suggests on several occasions that his mother resents the relationship between the Tlic and human beings. This relationship includes the Tlics’ ability to intoxicate humans with opiate-like eggs as well as by stinging them. While Gan does not...
Gan, the narrator of Octavia Butler’s short story “Bloodchild,” suggests on several occasions that his mother resents the relationship between the Tlic and human beings. This relationship includes the Tlics’ ability to intoxicate humans with opiate-like eggs as well as by stinging them. While Gan does not directly state why his mother resents the Tlic, based on details in the story, readers can infer her bitterness is due to the politically motivated control the Tlic have over humans.
While Gan, his siblings, and presumably many other humans partake in the intoxication, his mother refuses. He is surprised by this, especially since the eggs not only intoxicate humans, but also prolong their life. Gan’s father, for instance, was a regular consumer of the eggs and lived to be far older than he would have otherwise. Gan knows that at some point his mother did consume the eggs and wonders when and why she stopped, effectively choosing to grow old (page 6, in my edition, which is different than the one you are using).
The story’s setting makes clear that the eggs are indicative of the symbiotic relationship between the Tlic and humans: the Tlic provide intoxication, healing, and youth to the humans, and the humans serve as the hosts for Tlic larvae. This is a give-and-take relationship, yet the Tlic seem to have the upper hand, politically speaking. They control the area where the humans live, and can compel humans to take their eggs and host their larvae.
“Bloodchild” suggests that Gan’s mother resents this most clearly in the following passage:
MY mother used to try to tell me how to behave with T’Gatoi—how to be respectful and always obedient because T’Gatoi was the Tlic government official in charge of the Preserve, and thus the most important of her kind to deal directly with Terrans. It was an honor, my mother said, that such a person had chosen to come into the family. My mother was at her most formal and severe when she was lying (3–4).
In the story, Lien's friend, the Tlic known as T’Gatoi, compels her to take some of an egg. This puts her into a stupor, which Gan thinks she will remember as “humiliation” (7). She is made to consume the egg against her will, and even as she succumbs to the intoxication, she tells T’Gatoi (referring to her son Gan), “He’s still mine, you know. [...] Nothing can buy him from me” (6–7). Nevertheless, since T’Gatoi and Lien have a long relationship, the situation is ambiguous: Lien takes the egg from a friend, although she resents it.