Kindred by Octavia Butler: Kinship, Survival, and The Power of Actions

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 957 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 957|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

“Kindred” by Octavia Butler is a novel that combines science fiction elements with the issue of slavery. Published in 1979, the book quickly gained popularity due to its exploration of ongoing societal problems. The story follows a black woman who is transported back in time and becomes a slave, highlighting the connection between kinship and survival. Butler skillfully divides the novel into chapters, with an epilogue at the beginning to provide background information and engage readers. Each chapter focuses on a new event or time travel experience, emphasizing that attention should be given to each episode individually. The scenes in the novel act as stages, showcasing how individuals can change over time.

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The protagonist, Dana, is initially tasked with saving an innocent child, but as he grows up, he transforms into a monster. This transformation demonstrates how people can change with time. The novel ends with another epilogue, which underscores the immense influence of the past on the present and future. Dana and her husband, Kevin, are determined to prove the existence of the people from the past she encountered, encouraging readers to reflect on their own ancestry and the individuals to whom they owe their lives. Butler effectively intertwines the past and present, emphasizing their interdependence and making them the foundation of “Kindred” (Hua 391).

As Dana starts a new life in a different time period, she experiences a sense of rebirth and freedom from her previous problems and grievances. However, unpacking her belongings unleashes a Pandora's Box of ancestral memories, leading her ancestor Rufus to call her back to the past for help. Dana gradually realizes that her life depends on Rufus's survival, as she must ensure that he fathers her ancestor, Hagar. This realization showcases the true power of kinship and the unchangeable nature of certain events (Butler 29).

The theme of kindred is central throughout the novel, as seen in its title. Rufus remarks that Dana and Alice, her ancestor, are two halves of a whole, unknowingly highlighting their true connection. This connection is based on blood ties, which Rufus senses. The relationships between spouses are also significant in the novel. As Dana travels back in time and faces challenges, the support she receives from her husband, Kevin, becomes increasingly important. Kevin reassures her and promises to always be there for her, emphasizing the importance of familial support (Butler 17, 81).

The novel also explores the idea that creating a new family is not enough for a fulfilling life. When Dana plans to marry, she seeks approval from her aunt and uncle. Despite their disapproval of her relationship with a white man, Dana tries to gain their understanding. This scene highlights the universal desire for familial bonds and support, urging readers to evaluate their own actions and prioritize family (Jesser 42).

While racial discrimination and inequality are prevalent themes in the novel, Butler also aims to inspire readers to believe in themselves and their ability to overcome challenges. The novel encourages readers to face problems head-on, demonstrating that with courage and perseverance, anyone can survive and overcome adversity (Hua 393). Dana's experiences highlight her willpower, even in the face of fear. She refuses to succumb to the circumstances imposed upon her and actively seeks ways to escape. Dana recognizes the violence and suffering endured by slaves, and her determination to resist shows her strength (Butler 48).

Dana's character development throughout the novel reflects the struggles faced by women who lack power. Initially portrayed as brave, Dana gradually loses her sense of agency as she becomes a slave and is subjected to the will of her masters. Despite this, she continues to search for a way out. However, over time, Dana becomes worn down and contemplates giving up. The author prompts readers to consider what they would do in her situation and emphasizes the importance of fighting for change rather than accepting the status quo (West 74).

By narrating the novel from a first-person perspective, Butler allows readers to identify with Dana and experience her powerlessness. Dana's actions and interactions with Rufus and other characters serve as a call to action, encouraging readers to use their influence to help others and fight for freedom. Butler suggests that the actions of one person can have a profound impact on their family, community, and society as a whole (Asunder 17).

Dana's ultimate success in freeing herself and those around her demonstrates the importance of kinship in terms of survival. Her determination inspires others to adopt a similar mindset, fostering collective strength and resilience (Butler 25). The novel not only seeks to change readers' attitudes towards their families but also addresses social issues. While science fiction often explores progress, “Kindred” delves into the horrors of slavery and aims to educate readers about the struggles faced by their ancestors (West 72).

Butler highlights that even the cruelest slave owners were products of their society, emphasizing the consequences of treating others unequally.Their actions were not simply personal choices, but rather a reflection of the systemic racism and dehumanization engrained in the institution of slavery. By acknowledging this, Butler challenges readers to examine their own biases and prejudices, and to actively work towards creating a more just and equal society.

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In conclusion, "Kindred" by Octavia Butler is a powerful novel that combines elements of science fiction with the issue of slavery. Through the story of Dana, the novel explores the themes of kinship, survival, and the power of individual actions. Butler skillfully weaves together the past and present, highlighting their interdependence and the lasting impact of historical events. By narrating the novel from a first-person perspective, Butler invites readers to empathize with Dana and to reflect on their own roles in creating a more just society. "Kindred" is a thought-provoking and impactful novel that continues to resonate with readers today.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Kindred by Octavia Butler: Kinship, Survival, and the Power of Actions. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Kindred by Octavia Butler: Kinship, Survival, and the Power of Actions.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024,
Kindred by Octavia Butler: Kinship, Survival, and the Power of Actions. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Kindred by Octavia Butler: Kinship, Survival, and the Power of Actions [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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