The main topic of Kindred revolves around Dana, who is an African American woman sent back into time upon numerous occasions during the slave era to ensure that her ancestor, Rufus Weylin, does not die a preemptive death.
The book Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, is about an African American woman named Dana from the 1970s that gets sent back in time on the numerous events that Rufus, one of her slave-holder ancestors, is involved in a life threatening situation. The only way for Dana to return to her present time is if she is scared for her life. Then she just disappears from the scene and gets sent back to where she was last back in her own time period, in Kevin and hers house. Time seems to go on much longer in the past than it does in the present. For example, a trip back in time that may have felt like a few days in the past was only actually a few mere minutes in the present. On one of these trips, Kevin, Dana’s white husband, gets brought along by simply being in contact with Dana. After Dana once again saves Rufus from a life threatening situation, they all go back to the Weylin household, where Dana pretends to be Kevin’s slave, because for them to actually be married during the slave era is unheard of, and even sounds ridiculous to the public. Unfortunately for Kevin’s first time being brought back to the past with Dana, he gets left behind when Dana was being whipped by Tom Weylin, and sent back to her own time period. What seemed as only a few days to Dana of her being back at home before returning to the past, five years have passed for Kevin, trying to make a living and waiting for Dana to return and bring them both back to their own time period. Dana again resumes playing the part of a slave, no matter how demeaning she feels it to be, and she realizes that her present life is simple compared to what African Americans had to endure during the slave era. Dana and Rufus get along for a while, both depending on each other for kindness, support, and protection. Rufus then falls in love with another slave, Alice, who is also Dana’s ancestor. Though Alice is not interested in Rufus, and only wishes to return to her husband, who was sent to the south with his ears cut off after Alice and her husband’s failed attempt at running away. Once Dana returns and Kevin comes back after five years to see Dana for the first time, Rufus becomes angry about Dana leave, and refuses to let her go back. In the end, Dana is forced to kill Rufus on the account of self-defense because of his attempt at raping Dana.
Kindred does a very good job portraying how different the two lifestyles are in the present and the past for African Americans, and shows how hard the slaves had to work, and how poorly they were treated back then. Compared to the slave era, living in today’s society is like a walk in the park for African Americans. This book does very well at describing the two different time periods, and what would happen if an African American from this time period were to be extracted and placed into the situation of the slave era, and how different of a world they would have to endure. With Kevin going back in time as well, it is obvious that he had a much easier time fitting into the slave era situation than Dana did, mainly because he was a white American. This shows that no matter that the time period was in America, white Americans always had some privilege over the other races.
Overall, I think Kindred was a very good read. I found it very intriguing to read how Dana had to adjust herself to be able to fit into the slave era, and how much more work she had to endure, and to not even receive any pay. Being treated as something less than a human being after being used to the current time era would be a rather drastic change in the environment. This book kept my interest throughout the entire read, and I believe that it was very well written. This book gives a very good example of how it would be like throughout the slave era, especially for an African American from a recent time period.