Octavia Butler’s Kindred was an astounding book written in 1979 about a character name Edana Franklin, who is simply called Dana, is pulled continuously back into the 19th century by a boy name Rufus every time his life is in danger. This book is an unconventional tail about slavery, sexism and racism. Not only is it entertaining but it stirs up deep emotions inside of you about your history. This story makes you feel love, compassion, hate, and sorrow all at once. Octavia Butler wrote this book to bring knowledge and emotion to our pass time, as well as showing the reader how the past should and does effect our present time.
Because Octavia Butler read a lot of science fiction when she was a child this influenced her writing style. There could not have been a better way to write Kindred than science fiction. Taking the characters from the present and connecting them to the past by ways of time travel made the book more relatable to the reader. How else could one feel connected to slavery or be more understanding? One can never know what a person has gone through unless they experienced it themselves. This book did that for he reader.
Butler did a great job of making the reader think about how it would be if this situation really happened or if they could even handle the cruelty presented in the 18th century. She made the reader aware of how important it was to pay attention to this era in our history. Drawing situation from her childhood as well as college Octavia Butler felt that there was a bigger purpose for her to write Kindred than to entertain. In college she over heard a student talk about how his parents held him back and killing off the past generation and she felt as if he new his history but he didn’t feel it.
This was one of the reason she was motivated her to write Kindred. She wanted people today to not only know the past but feel it so they can understand how and why they got to be where they are today. Butler also wanted people to understand the mentality of their parents which would ultimately make them understand them better. Sara, the cook is used brilliantly to prove this case. Sara was a slave on the plantation who has already lost it all and because of that does not have the desire to want more or even know what it looks or feels like. This character helps Dana understand the mentality of the older generation.
Butler also used different characters to bring attention to how the attitudes of people back then come to affect the attitudes of people today. For example giving Dana a white husband and having both of them experience an era where they were not to be seen together as equal, husband and wife but as master and slave put a strain in their relationship psychologically, especially when they come back to the future. They cannot completely relate to one another’s experiences but it made them think about how far they have came and how far they have to go.
When they do return mentally Kevin is shaken up because Butler left him in the past to maybe give of more of a perception about not only what Dana has been going through but African Americans in general. It psychologically damaged him even more because he could not believe the things he saw, the things he heard, and the things he had to do in order to survive. He saw how easily back then it was for whites to degrade African Americans and how it was not as easy to resist becoming that man he dislike because he had to do things he didn’t like in order to survive himself.
Then there was Rufus Weylin a character you sympathized with but hated all at the same time. You almost felt sorry for all the Weylin’s at one point and then found yourself questioning why. Rufus and Dana’s relationship had the most powerful relationship in the book. They depended on each other to stay a live. It was important for Dana to see that connection to Rufus by the way of her ancestor Hagar and this relationship came about and figuring out who she really was as a person.
The way she portrayed their relationship as a love hate tragedy was so moving. The reader felt everything she felt and as well as everything he felt towards her. It makes one feel sympathetic towards her and Rufus. Almost like wanting things to change and go another way. There is irony, there is suspense, and there is the truth. Although written in 1979, Octavia Butler’s Kindred is an unconventional and timeless piece of literature that speaks volumes to many different generations. This is a book that once you read it, it can never be forgotten.