In the novel, Bloodchild, the two main stories that deal with the power of language and communication are Amnesty and Speech Sounds. Meanwhile, Amnesty deals with the problems miscommunication and the lack of understanding can bring to society, Speech Sounds depicts the aftermath of a society that lacks the ability to communicate. Thus, both deal with the importance of communication and the need to overcome differences and difficulties, especially the fear of outsiders, through the use of a common language or communication. 

Through the story Amnesty, Butler points out the need for different species to get to know each other and communicate to co-exist harmoniously. For example, in the scene where Noah explains how the Communities used to view pregnancy, the author illustrates what catastrophe the lack of communication and understanding can bring. Although Noah was kidnapped and experimented upon somewhat brutally, she is one of the few people who defend the Communities. She raises the voice of collaboration and reconciliation with the Communities contrasting to most of the humans who have intense hatred towards them. Many pregnant women died while giving birth because no one “knew how to help them.”(p.165) Also, “fewer than a hundred such children survived”(p.165) because the Communities used them to carry out various dangerous experiments without considering the outcomes of it. However, Noah explicitly states how this was because “the Communities didn’t know anything”(p.159) and also it was their way of getting to know the right way of treating humans and ultimately co-exist with them. Thus, Noah also calls their mistreatment an “accident”(p.160) with no bad intentions. 

To stop the mistreatment and live peacefully, Noah emphasizes the importance of mastering “the basic signs”(p.177) and learning the language when they’re in the bubble. That way, Noah believes that the Communities will be able to teach and learn “some aspects of … culture that the Community either doesn’t understand or want to hear more about.”(p.179) They also discuss the role of the language when it comes to power inequality. Noah explains how humans will only feel like “whores or house pets”(p.179) to the Communities unless they learn the language because communicating is the only way they can find equality and be treated fairly. Their ultimate goal is to ‘give and take’ what they can offer each other: humans will complete tasks or provide comfort for the Communities as jobs and the Communities will supply the basic survival needs for humans. Some progress in harmony of these two species are shown by how the experiments Noah is promoting are no longer harmful. Therefore, this shows the power of communication and how that can lead to their harmonious coexistence.

Similarly, in the story, Speech Sounds, Butler emphasizes how language is the defining characteristic of humanity and the major aspect in the fabric of society. Without it, humanity will be diminished, and people will lose their bond between themselves. However, it focuses more on the dystopia created with the absence of order and the rule of law by a virus limiting one’s ability to speak or write. For instance, people didn’t recognize the need for public transportation anymore as they have lost the concept of sharing. Buses have become “so rare and irregular”(p.91) now as “people started walking, and if they saw a bus, they flagged it down.”(p.91) Also, “there was no more LAPD, no more any large organization, governmental or private.”(p.92) Therefore, there were “armed individuals” protecting themselves. People became more aggressive and gained more jealousy and enmity towards those who haven't caught the virus out of fear. People had lost their community spirit and gone pre-evolutionary into being completely individualists, solely by losing the ability to communicate. 

Butler’s idea of humanity could be seen analogous to Hobbs’ ideology about human nature, that without rules and order, individuals are in “war against all” where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, short.” This could also be seen as analogous to our society during the Covid-19 pandemic, where people had to quarantine and isolate themselves from other human beings and communication was only possible in non-face-to-face ways. This led people to feel psychological distress leading to an increase of hate crimes, especially towards Asians because of some people’s belief that it is their fault the virus had spread.

However, some did not lose hope. Instead, they found a new way of communicating. When Rye “gestured once-a clear indication to the man to stop,”(p.93) he understood and obeyed to do so. In the novel, it states that the “loss of verbal language had spawned a whole new set of obscene gestures.”(p.93) In terms of identification, everyone had symbols in their necklace. For Rye, it was “the shape of a large golden stalk of wheat”(p.97) which symbolizes her name. The man she meets in the bus had a “smooth, glassy, black rock”(p.97) which she believes it symbolizes, “Obsidian.”(p.97) Through this story, Butler reinforces the idea of whether it’s verbal communication or a different method, humanity needs a way of communicating. 

Through these two stories, Butler seems to explore the idea of kinship through the theme of communication. Even in the midst of reading this novel, readers would feel more empathy towards humans than the aliens that appear as characters. Although in Amnesty, Butler seems to convey that humans are more inhumane than the aliens itself from the torture they gave to Noah even if they knew about the effects on her, the readers naturally defend the humans by insisting this is an act out of fear. Moreover, in Speech Sound, the readers are more empathetic towards both humans, whether they are able to communicate or not. For the humans who are able to communicate, the readers feel empathy for their isolation and defend their violency out of fear. However, it is important to realize how the universe is not centered around humans as we’re not the only living thing and we humans are closely related to all other living things. For example, even humans and bananas share approximately 60% of genetic material. Just by acknowledging, learning, and investigating this concept, change can be brought to how humans behave and treat other species coexisting in this universe. This is needed to be able to live peacefully and harmoniously with a potential ‘other’. 








17 years old