This paper focuses on Kindred By Octavia Butler. Write a one-page response to the book Kindred. You may write about one of the themes we have discussed: Violence, Education, Kinship, or Power.
Kindred By Octavia Butler: response to the book Kindred
Write a one-page response to the book Kindred. You may write about one of the themes we have discussed: Violence, Education, Kinship, or Power. Or you can write a review of the book and whether you would recommend it to another person to read. Or you write about a particular character in the novel.
Kindred was published in 1979, which marks the end of two decades of intense debate over the representation of African American history.1 In this context, it is not a coinci- dence that Kindred ’s didactic purpose takes up this issue. Butler states in an interview that she responded to a present sense of shame for older African American generations, who reputedly showed humility towards their white masters: “Kindred was a kind of reaction to some of the things going on during the sixties when people were feeling ashamed of, or more strongly, angry with their parents for not having improved things faster, and I wanted to take a person from today and send that person back to slavery.”
An ignorant remark of a fellow student, who failed to analyze the slaves’ behavior in context of their time period, inspired her in particular to write this novel:
His attitude about slavery was very much like the attitude I had held when I was thirteen – that is, he felt that the older generation should have rebelled. He once commented ‘I wish I could kill all these people who have been holding us back for so long, but I can’t because I would have to start with my own parents.
This accusation of African American passiveness results from a missing and false his- torical knowledge.
Therefore, the second chapter focuses on how the problem of histo- riography of slavery is depicted in Kindred. Further, the student neglected to take the complex social situation for the enslaved into account, which influenced the options of revolt. On this account, the third chapter explores the relationships within the slave community as well as towards their master. Jacobs suggests to better understand slav- ery, one shall “go on a southern plantation, and call yourself a negro trader. Then there will be no concealment; and you will see and hear things that will seem to you impossi- ble among human beings with immortal souls.”
Butler chooses a similar way by send- ing Dana to the antebellum South. Overall, the analysis foregrounds social-emotional issues according to Butler’s intention: “I was trying to get people to feel slavery. I was trying to get across the kind of emotional and psychological stones that slavery threw at people.
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