18 April 2018
Slavery is not only defined as the ability to allow individuals to own, but also to buy and sell other individuals as their form of property. There were many different types of races but African Americans were the most targeted. In today’s society, we still see discrimination and racism. To this day many people don’t have a full understand of how bad slavery really was. Many people have the question, why didn’t these slaves just run away or why didn’t they just kill their owner? When reading the graphic novel ” Kindred” by Octavia Butler, you get a complete understanding of the life of a slave. Kindred is based during the late 1800’s where there was deep hatred for African Americans. This hatred is what led to slavery. Kindred gives you the eyes of a slave. In the novel we learn that racism in America isn’t just something from the past but is still present today. Although, people of color have gained their rights, racism is still a factor they deal with. Slaves were forced to be devoted to their masters. The first African Americans arrived in the New World in 1619. They were traded for manufacture goods. This is what started black slavery.
The novel, Kindred, is mostly about the era of slavery in America. Dana is a main character in this novel, she constantly has to save the life of Rufus. Rufus is a man who parented one of her ancestors. In the reading, racial injustice is heavily applied to the novel. An example could be the relationship between Tom and Dana. In the novel, Dana is allowed to stay at the plantation however long she wants because she saved Tom’s life. However, she can only stay as long as she takes care of Rufus. Yet, Tom uses his racial superiority to control everything Dana does. In ” The Storm” Dana and Tom are having a conversation but Tom gets angry and tells Dana ” You want a good whipping… you must have not had one in a while”. Tom then feels that Dana is threatening him when she says “But your sons still alive and I’ll go on doing what I can for mister Rufus if you can treat me a little more humanly”. Tom replies saying “You’re threatening him?! You think you’re white!”…. “you can feel pain. You can be killed you think on that… because if Rufus dies so do you and you won’t die easy”. (Butler, pg ) This part of the novel shows the racial injustice. He uses his power to control Dana. Tom tells her that if you don’t take care of my son then I will kill you. Dana has no other choice to keep taking care of Rufus because if she leaves she has a very high chance of getting caught by a different slave owner. So she is forced to help Rufus until she is brought into her present time.
The theme of violence is presented all over this novel. Dana is forced into the past where she experiences torture and sees families being torn apart. She is forced to live in the way her ancestors did. Whipping occurs to show slaves power and to strike fear in the slaves so they wouldn’t disobey orders or try to run away. Violence was also used as a punishments when slaves didn’t do what they were told. In the novel, violence was also used as a form of entertainment for slave owners. For women, rape was a form of violence. In the novel, Dana was caught reading one of Weylens spelling book. Weylen dragged her out of the door and began to whip her. Tom said ” I treated you good, and you pay me back by stealing my books”. ( Butler, pg ). Tom whipped her as a form of punishment because she had stole from him. Tom believes he is the master of the house so he whips Dana in order to show that he is in control. This is how violence is portrayed in this novel. Another form of violence is when Dana cuts her wrists. Her commiting suicide is a way for her to go back to her present day. She is running away from Rufus’s home rather than waiting for her to get sent back. She couldn’t handle Rufus’s temper anymore so she decided to flee. Dana cutting her wrist was an example of violence because at those times many slaves didn’t have the strength to continue living. In the clip “Amistad” (youtube, 7/12) a young black women with a baby jumps off the ship so she wouldn’t have to live, this an example of how brutal violence was in slavery. For black women, they were forced to sleep with their masters. Slaves took their lives as a form of freedom. They chose death rather than living their lives enslaved. Commiting suicide was an act of rebellion. In the English Colonies, living conditions were extreme for slaves, they were put in a single room where they were huddled into, likes animals. When slaves were being transported on ships they would sleep in the bottom of the ship with no blankets to keep them warm. The men would feed only the slaves that were not sick. Violence was a major factor in the novel and in real time.
The last theme I saw in this novel was freedom and privilege. Dana, who was an ordinary black woman is forced to loose all of her freedom. In the novel, Dana sees a black man getting whipped. Dana says ” I had seen people beaten on television and in the Movies. I had seen the too-red blood substitute streaked across their backs and heard their well- rehearsed screams. But I hadn’t lain nearby and smelled their swet or her them pleading and praying, shames before their families and themselves. I was probably less prepared for the reality then the child crying not far from me. In fact, she and I were reacting very much alike”.(Butler, pg ) This quote from the novel is a prefect example of how the privilege don’t have any understanding of how brutal slavery was. The novel creates a visual effect so readers can have a better understanding. In the present, freedom is taken for granted. Dana, for example knew that it was going to be bad going back to her ancestors time but she didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. When Dana goes back in time she has to be careful and not forget that she is a slave. Dana is different from the other slaves, she sounds “white” because of her education and ability to read and write. We see privilege because Dana is not treated like the other slaves. She has privilege through her education. Dana is privileged because she is strong minded. Rufus, who is a slave master is constantly being yelled at by Dana. The behaviour Dana shows is unusual because she is a slave and most slaves who show that type of disrespect will either be killed or beaten. The reason Dana is not killed by Rufus is because he needed her. Rufus tried to show his love to Dana by control but she was much smarter. At the end of the novel, Dana’s is back home and her hand is crushed.
In conclusion, this novel creates a great way for readers to feel inside of the story. It makes us realize that slavery is not something to be forgotten. Slavery brought a lot of fear to the colored. These people were treated inhuman. No person who has been apart of slavery will ever be the same, they will always have that remembrance of there freedom being stripped away. Although, nothing can fix what happened in the past. Our society should look more into the present day where racism and discrimination needs to come to an end. Today, we still see people of color being treated differently just because of the way we look and it must come to an end. No race should be treated differently from another race. America should concentrate in becoming a better and safer place for everyone. There is always a start to something. All races should have the same equal opportunities. The novel was a reminder that slavery did happen and people of color were able to overcome this horrific time and become greater. Butler allows readers to be able to relate to the past and the present. Butler provides a better understanding of the conditions slaves went through. She illustrates two different places and periods in one novel. The author takes the reader on a journey .