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Kindred was the very first book by Octavia Butler that I read. Unlike many science-fiction writers, she spends no time discussing the dynamics of time travel, which for a tale of this emotional magnitude, is a good thing. Kindred is hard book to read and it leaves you with so many questions; I have never looked at history in quite the same way. That is the hallmark of good writing, when it leaves you with much to think about. Also, Octavia Butler was the only black woman writing science fiction at the time, and so she became a role model to me. I don't normally enjoy science fiction novels, but this story was a major exception due to the fact that it was so interesting and I was really intrigued by the writing of Octavia Butler, who is a very realistic as well as unique writer.
The reason Kindred is so unique is because of Butler's distinctive style and outlook. I really liked the style and subject choice of this novel and the fact that Butler decided to add to the story the idea of moral choice, which is one of the hardest choices any persons can face. Kindred utilizes the devices of science fiction in order to answer the question "how could anybody be a slave?" A woman from the twentieth century, Dana is repeatedly brought back in time by her slave-owning ancestor Rufus when his life is endangered. She chooses to save him, knowing that because of her actions a free-born black woman will eventually become his slave and her own grandmother.
When forced to live the life of a slave, Dana realizes she is not as strong as her ancestors. Unable to will herself back to her own time and unable to tolerate the institution of slavery, she attempts to run away and is caught within a few hours. Her illiterate ancestor Alice succeeds in eluding capture for four days even though "She knew only the area she'd been born and raised in, and she couldn't read a map. " Alice is captured, beaten, and sold as a slave to Rufus. As Dana is sent back and forth through time, she continues to save Rufus's life, attempting during each visit to care for Alice, even as she is encouraging Alice to allow Rufus to rape her and thus ensure Dana's own birth.
As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, "See how easily slaves are made?" For Dana, to choose to preserve an institution, to save a life, and nurture victimization is to choose to survive. -- Bibliography:
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Research essay sample on Twentieth Century Science Fiction