Bloodchild: Oppression in Science Fiction
Throughout American literary history, nearly every form of literature has covered the topic of slavery and black oppression in America. From William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist papers to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s controversial Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, the exploration of the black position in America has been a theme that engrossed generations. In the past century, as science fiction has established its place in the literary genre, authors such as Octavia Butler have become increasingly popular. In her short story "Bloodchild", Butler extends the discussion of oppression in America into the science fiction genre. In this manner her story, "…like almost all science…show more content… Even if slavery is not the presiding rule of the land on this planet any longer, segregation based on appearance still exists, just as the "social construction of ‘whiteness’ historically has implied the racial superiority of whites", and prompted the "separate but equal" doctrines of the late nineteenth century (Rundblad & Kivisto xxxi).
Butler also relates some of the systems of segregation in place against the Terrans. "Firearms were illegal in the Preserve…for our protection, we were told" (Butler 1040). Though actual laws that display racist views are no longer valid, the social constraints put upon blacks in post-Civil War times were just as prominent in the United States. Butler forces her American audience to connect with the story on a personal level by bringing in the idea that a basic right in their lives is denied to another because of their physical difference.
The friendship between T’Gatoi and Gan’s family is established from the very beginning of the story. It is said that Gan’s mother and T’Gatoi had known each other since they were youths. However, in most friendships, the obligation to give a friend your child does not exist. In this society, humans were used for Tlic breeding, and Gan’s mother had agreed to give T’Gatoi one of her children to be bred with. The sacrifice of something as precious as one’s own child indicates that even if the two friends regarded each other as equals, society