Racism In Octavia Butler's Kindred

Improved Essays
Travels and Races Racial slurs have been common for centuries. Some are less offensive than others, but they still exist. As the only Hispanic in a primarily white school, I was often called “Mexican” and asked where my green card was. Ironically, Puerto Rico is a US territory and my mother is white, so I am actually just as much of a US citizen as my harassers. Nonetheless, the racism stung. After reading Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred, I realize that my experience with racism is minuet at best. Dana, the main character in Kindred, is a black woman from the late 1900s forced back in time to the early 1800s. This time period was one of extreme racism and slavery, and Octavia Butler conveys the horrors of it in an extremely realistic setting. …show more content…
It is thought to have come about as a mispronunciation of the word “negro” by southerners in the 19th century, but has progressed into an extremely derogatory racial slur. In the 1800s, it was primarily used to demean black slaves, with the underlying implication that they were worth little to nothing, dead or alive, being far inferior to the whites. Rufus, a young white male being raised by an abusive slaveholding father and selfishly extravagant mother in the early 1800s, ignorantly uses this term to describe Dana. During his early years, Dana, in her short moments spent with Rufus due to her unexpected time traveling, does her best to explain the wrongs of such derogatory terms to him. She is somewhat successful with him as a child, but once he reached young adulthood, his father begins to have a larger influence on him. Rufus grows into an ignorant young man with a heart full of resentment, hatred, confusion, and loneliness. He is Rufus Weylin, the man who will force himself on a slave woman that he loves. He will be the father of her children, one of whom is Dana’s ancestor, and eventually cause his love to kill herself in desperation to escape from his …show more content…
Knowing that she is from the future does not deter him, but heightens his interest in her. After Alice’s death, Rufus tries to force himself upon Dana, and she is left with no choice but to kill him in order to escape. After returning to the future and being left with a permanent injury, Dana visits the site of Rufus’s old plantation house. It was burnt down and many of his slaves, people who had befriended Dana in her travels, had been sold. Dana, knowing the depth of her own pain and struggles with the short amounts of time that she spent in the 19th century, realizes that no matter how bad her own experiences were, they would never hold a candle to those had by all the slaves that were left behind- those who had no chance of

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    The Irony of the Story was that Armand was the one with African American heritage. This Is Ironic because Armand based the worth of a person mainly on a person race and gender, and throughout the story accused Desiree’s of being the one with Black heritage. Since the story takes place before the civil war there are bias elements all through the story. I think Chopin wanted to symbolize the prejudiced and inequalities of both race and gender in southern America around the time before the civil war. Chopin does this by highlighting how little Influence Desiree had on her marriage.…

    • 723 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    As for the minor character, Mrs. Bird, Stowe uses her to show that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was morally wrong (ch. 9). Eliza Harris, having run away from her master, comes upon the Bird’s doorstep just after he signed the slave law into effect. Mrs. Bird proves her point that one cannot morally follow this law by having the man who just signed it into action help out a runaway slave. This also fits in with the argument that the women in this novel are more human than the men because Mrs. Bird goes directly against her husband and wishes to help…

    • 1386 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Jim lived in a society that has devalued blacks to a point that it has become difficult for him feel like a true human being in America. In “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” blacks were dehumanized by nearly every white character in the novel. Huck and Jim were two of a kind who knew how rejection felt; Huck himself was running away from an abusive alcoholic father. Twain stood for equality because he felt that blacks did not get the equal treatment as whites. His novel was a great learning tool of how slaves did not have any say so of how they were treat during this…

    • 770 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Since free African Americans were not considered citizens, they felt just as distressed as slaves, being greatly restricted through a number of legislations in multiple states. Due to their lack of rights, many black leaders started to rise in the north, but they were conflicted in how they wanted to integrate into society; some leaders wanted to leave the country and settle in Liberia, while some insisted that they should stay in the United States as they were born there (Jones, et al. 275). On the other hand, in 1831, people in the south reinforced slavery in any way possible. At that exact year, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in Virginia, freeing slaves and killing any whites that they…

    • 1033 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher-Stowe is a well-renowned novel about slavery. It is considered an anti-slavery novel that had a vast impact to society due to its realistic and powerful portrayal of slaves and their sufferings. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is centered mainly about the Harris family and Uncle Tom as they navigate through their circumstances as slaves. As I read the book, I was saddened by the way the slaves were maltreated. However, it made me realize an important theme or message that the author conveys throughout this narrative; slavery is evil and morally wrong.…

    • 978 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Slaves often had no choice but to live, because a loss of a slave meant a loss of profit so many slave owners would beat slaves to the brink of death but not kill them, in an effort to maintain their property. Olaudah Equiano, a young man who endured a traumatizing voyage to slavery was ignorant to all his future suffering when he boarded the slave ship. From seeing the blacks around him in despair, smelling the nauseating stench of wastes, and hearing the shrieking of children and cries of women, young Equiano became so low and sick that he “wished for the last friend, Death, to relieve [him]” (Equiano 1). Upon refusing to eat, the slave was flogged so severely that he wanted to jump overboard into the powerful, unknown ocean, without a care if he survived or died. Slavery took away the human desire to live from millions of people.…

    • 1439 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Desire under the Elms highlighted the unhealthy relationships between family members and its negative effect on every member. The negative effect of the unhealthy relationship between Eben's mother and his father affected Eben extremely. He grew up hating his father for treating his mother badly and wished that one day he will revenge for her. On the other hand, he hated his father for not receiving any kind of love or kindness from him. By the end of the play when he thought that his step mother murdered his father not his son he said "But we got to do something quick to make it look as if he skunked himself."…

    • 728 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    and Mrs. Garner. However after Mr. Garner’s death, Mrs. Garner gave the charge of the plantation to Schoolteacher, her brother-in-law, who proves to be a cruel controller. The new regime introduced changes with change in masters. Schoolteacher used to measure them with string as though they were beasts, asked them silly questions and made notes of them to conduct research. According to him, they did not deserve any respect, so he dehumanized them with the help of his nephews.…

    • 1699 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Although the Shelby’s were very kind to Tom, Mr. Shelby still put a price on Tom and separated his family apart and put them through a great deal of misery. Although Uncle Tom was given the chance to escape he did not because he felt that he had done a great job at the Shelby’s and if he went they might take his family (pg. 46). The person Mr. Shelby sold Uncle Tom to was to Mr. Haley who went and bought many other slaves so he could sell them with Uncle Tom. Mr. Haley sold a woman 's baby and which pushed the woman to go overboard of the boat (pg.…

    • 1013 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Mr. St Clare even went so far as to provide his “slaves” an education and would provide them with his clothing and other accessories. Now in this glimmer of hope for society Stowe steals this from the reader and Tom when Eva passes and then Mr. St. Clare after he promised his freedom. Continuing this perpetual cycle of evil his wife Marie goes against her husband’s wishes and sells him to another slave…

    • 1034 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays