Octavia Butler's Kindred: Literary Analysis

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Living on the cusp of a major technological revolution with many new high-tech devices being produced throughout world, one must look at the past and see admire the great progress that the world has made to reach this state in time. Considering that just 200 years ago human beings were being captured and beat into slavery we should look back at our past and learn from our mistakes before moving into the promising future. In Octavia Butler’s intriguing novel Kindred, Butler swirls the polar genres of time-travel based science fiction and historical slave narrative together in order to show her audience the progress that society has achieved by contrasting the struggles that slaves in America had to deal with compared to the many modern achievements…show more content…
The only problem is the year is 1815 and slavery is in full affect. Dana was in a time where patrollers would, as Dana would experience it, “slap me stunningly with one hand” (41) for no reason at all. Butler is using Dana as a fictional first-person point of view character in the early 1800’s. Butler writes her story like this to fit a historical slave narrative genre which she can eventually use to solidify her point of praising social advancements. Charles J. Heglar, an associative professor at Xavier University, categorizes the typical elements of a slave narrative to follow footsteps of one of the most iconic slave narratives, Fredrick Douglass’ narrative. Heglar says the “irreversible transformation from slave to freeman” was the fundamental part of the story,…show more content…
Jenny Wolmark, a renowned lecturer at the University of Humberside, suggests “that contemporary science fiction texts increasingly include both utopian and dystopian elements” (91). Butler include both a utopian and dystopian society in her novel. Traveling back into time towards slavery is considered a dystopian society, especially for a black person, as slavery existed. The utopian part of her novel is the present day time where Dana and Kevin are happily married and just bought a new home. The time travel science fiction aspect of her story where Dana inexplicably “fell, slowly it seemed, into a deep starless darkness,” (43) and returned back to present day 1976 to her unsuspecting husband, really helps fit push Butlers comparison of the two time periods. By mixing a time travel genre with a historical slave narrative Butler is also able to effectively keep the reader engrossed in her story. The time travel aspect appeals to a wider audience and allows her a gateway of addressing her main point of showing off the many social and technological achievements that humanity has
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