Binita Patel
6 December 2011
Octavia Butler’s, Kindred, tells a story about of how a modern day black woman, Dana,
is transported from California to the antebellum South to protect a man that would later be her
ancestor.   Her survival essentially relies on her ability to keep him alive. She is transported to a
Maryland plantation where her ancestor, Rufus Weylin, lives on. Every time Rufus faces danger,
Dana is summoned to protect him so that he can father the child that would be another ancestor
to Dana. Every time Dana goes back to the past, she is confronted by the brutal reality of the
slave trade in America. Butler’s novel is categorized as science fiction because she has the
element of Dana traveling back in time in order to meet her ancestor. However, Kindred, does
not focus on the time travelling aspect but instead focuses on the differences of the 20th century,
where Dana is from, and the 19th century, where she goes back in time and meets Rufus and the
slaves. This gives Butler the freedom to write in Dana’s point of view and what she goes through
as being a “slave” opposed to writing in the perspective of a slave and the memories he or she
has had. The genre of science fiction works great in this novel because it has portrayed the
realness of slavery very well as well as keeping the seriousness of the subject without distorting
it too much. Kindred, as a science fiction novel, succeeds at conveying important messages about
our history of oppression and modes of resistance to it because even though it had the unreal
element of time travel, it still made Dana’s experience real and the reader learns more about what
slaves went through from Dana’s experiences rather than from reading testimonies and books by
slaves themselves.
It is safe to say that most people cannot relate to the scars and troubles from the
antebellum South. In fact, the only people that could relate to this would be the descendents of...