Experiencing Slavery Through Octavia Butler's Kindred Essay

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Authors of fiction often write about the human condition as a way to connect with a broad range of readers. Unlike factual textbooks, fiction gives characters feeling and emotion, allowing us to see the story behind the basic details. In many cases, readers gain a new perspective on a period of time by examining a fiction novel. In Kindred, by Octavia Butler, the near death experiences of Rufus Weylin transports a 20th century African American woman named Dana to the ante bellum South to experience exactly what it’s like to be a slave. Through her day-to-day life on the Weylin plantation, the reader begins to understand just how complex slavery is and how it affects both the slaves and the plantation owners; thus, giving new …show more content…
Moreover, they did not see slaves as anything but property; as a result, compassion for human suffering was non-existent.

“Butler’s characters value community over individual success. Or better, individual success is defined in terms of community. Her questions are: what do we do to survive? How must we change if we are not to be wiped out by others, by ourselves? (Hairston 297)“

The only people slaves could turn to were each other. In essence, they formed a community of sorts in which each one tried to watch out for one another while maintaining their own survival at the same time. This is evident when Sarah welcomes Dana into the cookhouse to help. She gives her work, despite the fact that Dana has few skills in household chores. Also, we see camaraderie when Alice’s mother welcomes Dana into her home. “I saw her glance over at her daughter, then touch her own face and wipe away blood from the corner of her mouth. “Wasn’t going to turn you ‘way,” she said softly” (38). The welcoming of Alice’s mother stretches beyond kindness because she is putting her whole family at risk. Furthermore, she is taking in a woman who she doesn’t even know. As a result, we can concur simply that slaves did all they could to help fellow slaves.

The text also illustrates how difficult it was for slaves to become free. According to law, a slave needed to have papers indicating they were free. Essentially, this was the only way they could
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