Fledgling (1-81)

“Once I had tasted them, they enjoyed the way I made them feel. Instead of being afraid or angry, they were first confused, then trusting and welcoming, eager for more of the pleasure that I could give them. It happened that way each time. I didn’t understand it, but I had done it in a comfortable, knowing way. I had done it as though it was what I was supposed to do.

Was there something in my saliva that pacified people and pleasured them? What else could it be? It must also help them heal. Wright had been surprised with how quickly his hand was healing. That meant healing must normally take longer for him. And that meant I could at least help the people who helped me. That felt important” (Butler 26).

This passage comes right after the main character wandered through town to feed on some of Wright’s neighbors. Wright had been unable to provide her with enough blood, so she ended up feeding on Theodora and a couple others. During and after feeding on both Wright and Theodora, Renee realized that they enjoyed when she drank their blood. Because Renee was unable to remember anything before she woke up the other day, she was surprised at their reactions. They were not hurt by her bites and, as long as she didn’t take too much, they were not overly weakened when she was done; they actually wanted her to take more. This suggests that vampires are a known part of this community. Wright and Theodora were not shocked or scared when Renee bit them. This leads Renee to think a lot about who she is and what she is. She begins to realize that when she drinks their blood, it somehow benefits them as well. She is unsure as to how it benefits them, but she realizes that they are ‘pacified and pleasured’ by it. Renee says that this comforts her because she is unsure as to how she fits into this community. Renee also believes that there is some sort of healing power in her blood. This would mean that vampires are very valuable to humans in this society. Wright was very surprised that his wounds healed so quickly, which suggests that humans are unaware of the benefits of vampires. This passage is very early in the novel and brings up a lot of unanswered questions, but it does a good job of foreshadowing.

-Kaitlyn Klepper

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16 thoughts on “Fledgling (1-81)

  1. The idea that humans enjoyed having their blood taken is certainly new to me in terms of how vampires are usually depicted in tales. It’s also weird how the humans even benefit a bit when they are bitten by a vampire. This could definitely be foreshadowing of what may happen throughout the book and may even suggest that humans and vampires could coexist or even be dependent on each other in some way or another.

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  2. This passage is important as it portrays an alien concept that many readers, including myself, was not aware of before. The mutualism between humans and vampires is bizarre because vampires in pop culture are generally presented as a relentless, harmful species to the human population. Twilight is one popular series that presents vampires as evil and who injures humans once the smallest contact occurs. I think that this passage could represent foreshadowing of coexistence between humans and vampires, however, i do not dismiss the fact that Shori can be an exception, or that there’s underlying danger within her. She can very provoke danger within humans when exposed to certain things or in certain situations. Just as Short is unfamiliar with what she is and what her limits her, us, readers, also are unaware of what she really is, what her true powers are.

    -Nicole Schmalz

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    • There has been a consistent theme throughout our readings of subverting the reader’s expectation for the genre. This is an inevitable product of the sort of speculative and visionary fiction we’re reading, which intentionally contrasts with the themes of more traditional science fiction or fantasy. As you and many others in this thread have highlighted, however, this also can serve as a device in its own right, forcing the reader to confront their own assumptions about the genre, how those assumptions reflect their broader understanding of the world,

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      • and examine the story and its more traditional counterparts in a more critical light.

        -Patrick Gibson
        (I apparently accidentally submitted partway through this comment)

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  3. This passage clearly shows the unconventional take that the author has on vampires and their relationships with humans. Despite not being one of them, Renee is still being excepted which is interesting and makes me wonder the type of conflict that our protagonist is going to face later on in the novel. The ability to drink blood without harming humans is in part a tool for the author to have a vampire protagonist that is easier to accept by both the humans in the story and the reader. If the pleasure was not there for the humans we would think very differently about Renee and the affect she is having to the neighborhood.

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  4. This passage really shows that Butler is going in a completely different direction with vampire lore than what we are traditionally used to. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires can hypnotize their victims before they drink their blood so they don’t fight, but in Fledgling we see a different take on this ability. Instead of hypnosis, the author uses the idea of a symbiotic relationship between human and vampire to explain why humans do not protest to having their blood taken. I think that in and of itself is a pretty clear indication that this is going to be a completely different kind of vampire story than what most readers are used to.

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  5. I found this passage really interesting and confusing. I agree with everyone else in that it is a different take on the perception of vampires than in other vampire-based stories. I found it interesting that Butler gave Renee an awareness of what she was doing. She knew of her thirst for blood yet she was aware of those she was drinking from in a way that she actually cares for them. The same awareness is shown when she talks of the man from the woods and how she feels guilty for killing him because he seemed to care for her. This consciousness seems to be a unique characteristic that will most likely be further developed through out the story and I’m interested to see how it plays out.

    -Serina Thomas

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  6. I agree that this take on vampires is different that the usual, however I am uncertain if the conclusion that human’s knew of real vampires could be arrived at from the info given this early in the story. It seemed like this passage suggested that Renee’s saliva had an effect similar to an extremely addictive drug. As soon as someone is subjected to it they immediately wanted more and were willing to do place themselves in harms way, death by blood loss, in order to get more. This seems to be based off of the part of vampire mythology that being bit by one makes you a slave of the one that bit you. I am curious if this effect will be seen in the light of a symbiotic, parasitic or predatory relationship as more people become aware of Renee and her abilities.

    -Justin Wright

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  7. I am somewhat disturbed by the sexual implications of Shori’s bonding with others, as evidenced by this passage, given her prepubescent body. “(E)ager for more of the pleasure that I could give them. “She is described as immature both in appearance and biology, I’m not sure the authors intention behind inserting this aspect. I was expecting it to be a commentary on the hypersexualization of minorities in western-society, or maybe the sexualization of young women as a whole, but nothing of the sort has come up yet. Her sexual relationship with her bonded partners is not perceived as disturbing or such, which makes sense given the secret nature of her relationships. Vampires and their feeding on people have always been used as metaphors for sex and sexuality, so the choice to make the main character appear as a 10 or 11-year-old has to be an intentional one.

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  8. I liked that you choose this passage from within the novel, I think its a cool twist the author does by making it a more pleasurable yet intoxicating venture for Renee and her victims. However I do believe that this ‘lust’ the victims have for Renee will lead to a downhill spiral, too much of anything can be a bad thing. I’m excited to see where the author chooses to go within this novel and now that Renee finally understands that her victims in a sense still need her to survive or they can suffer in a way ‘withdrawl’ and result in heart attacks. I’m curious to know how the novel will continue to build.
    -Nicole Crippen

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  9. I really like the passage you chose to talk about. It shows us that Renee is a different/special type of vampire since her blood heals people. People usually think of blood sucking creatures when they hear the word Vampire, but Renee’s ability to cure the people she loves changes our perception of vampires. But the fact that Wright and Theodora’s blood was not enough to quench Renee’s thirst for blood makes me question how much blood is enough for her to be satisfied and can this possibly cause any problems?

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  10. I like how this novel takes a human perspective when describe the though and actions of the vampires. It’s a refreshing twist from typical vampire novels, in which they are looked at as monsters and dehumanized. In this quote you can see how comfortable they seem in this reality, as they are actually beneficial to the people. It’s interesting because the vampire-human relationship is traditionally a parasitic one benefiting the vampire. However this novel has created a mutualistic relationship, hopefully inspiring fresh scenarios and conflicts.

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  11. This part of the story and onwards started to startle me and almost creep me out as the mutual relationship that Wright and Renee have for each other is physical and mental, as they both depend on each other chemically and emotionally. The authors take of vampires is viewed as completely different than the stereotypical idea of them, as the people who interact with them are frightened and generally flee away whereas the people who get bitten by them in the novel are bonded with them and cannot resist their bites. This might hint at the authors perspective of alien species living together and interacting with other species in a harmonious manner and relationship. This may be a stretch, but this can be connected to a futuristic idea where we might live with other species from other worlds and planets in order to survive, and they might need to depend on us and we might need to depend on them.

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  12. Like everyone here, this passage was surprising to me. It is obviously a very different direction than the usual Vampire fiction- The vampire is, of course, normally a feared monster. Even in more recent years with the fetishization of the vampire, they are usually at least in some kind of exile or are social pariahs. Here, however, the vampire is a valuable part of the community and that is an alien concept to me. This is particularly apparent because of the fact that her blood has healing powers. I did feel like there was sort of an air of sexuality between her and her victims as well, but that is, of course, not an uncommon theme in vampire fiction. I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the novel plays out because of the revelation of the fact that her blood heals people.
    -Jimmy Nolan

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  13. This passage foreshadows the symbiotic nature between humans and vampires. Here the vampires are taking blood but in return is giving pleasure to the humans. Shori does not understand much about her powers yet and is slowly experimenting by taking blood for her human sources. What’s most interesting is that she said that her giving to her hosts was ‘what felt most important’ which implies that she is caring as a person and reveals her true nature. In fact, it reveals the true nature of the Ina as well.

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  14. Throughout this passage, we are able to see commonalities in relation to other present modern day vampire stories while maintaining the traditional roles of a vampire. This idea of getting pleasure from shori’s bite correlates to the ‘trance-like state’ vampires are able to put on humans. Wright is even taken back at how easily he succumbs to shori. This passage reveals instances of foreshadowing, primarily when shori states “help the people that helped me. That felt important” this coexistence between vampires and humans may bring complications due to the stereotype humans have for vampires.

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