Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Kindred tells the story of a black woman named Edana who is unpacking books into her new house with her white husband, Kevin, when she is overcome with dizzyness and finds herself somehow transported away from her home to a lake where a young boy is drowning. She runs to save the boy, young and white, and once he is breathing again his father comes up and attempts to shoot Dana in the head. As he pulls the trigger, however, she is immediately transported back to her home. Her husband says she had only been gone for a few seconds, but that couldn't be possible: Her encounter had taken minutes, not seconds. A few hours later Dana is pulled again to the young boy, by in the short hours between their encounters the boy has aged several years as he is trying to burn down his house to get back at his father selling the horse he hoped to get. She learns that they are in 1815 Maryland, at a very high point in slavery. She also learnsh the boy is named Rufus Weylin, the name she recognizes as her great great great (etc.) grandfather. Her fear is peaked, but she doesn't disappear. Instead she has to sneak away into the night to the house of a woman named Alice, her great great great (etc.) grandmother. While there she encounters a group of white men. One of them tries to rape her, but she fights him off and knocks him unconscious. When she begins thinking of how he will surely kill her when he wakes up she is again overcome with dizzyness and returns home. On her next visit, Keivn grabs onto her when she is leaving. They arrive right after Rufus has fallen and broken his leg. When they meet Rufus's father Kevin pretends he owns Dana and they live on the Weylin plantation for nearly a year before Dana is caught trying to teach one of the slave boys to read and is caught. Mr. Weylin takes her outside and whips her until she feels her life is in danger, and before Kevin can reach her, she disappears, leaving him behind. Due to the difference in time between her home and the plantation, the eight days she spends recouperating amounts to about four year by the time she returns. She is accepted onto the Weylin plantation again as a slave, but Rufus is much older and is beginning to take over. Kevin left several years earlier to go up north and explore, so Dana is left hoping he will come back. Rufus called her back because he raped Alice and her husband found out about it. Dana arrived as Rufus was being killed by Alice's husband. Dana persuades them to leave and takes the unconscious Rufus back home. After two letters that Dana attempted to write to Kevin recieved no reply, she went looking in Rufus's room and found both, unsent. That night she attempted to escape and was immediately caught, but Kevin was summoned and they returned to 1976 when Rufus tried to kill Dana for leaving with Kevin. Dana returns one last time to find Mr. Weylin dying, Rufus turning into a brutal slaveowner, and Alice, Rufus's wife, having hung herself after having had Dana's Great Great (etc.) Grandmother. As Rufus attempts to rape her, later, Dana takes out her knife and stabs him twice, killing him, but when she returned home the place from which he was holding her arm was severed.

1. If you were a black woman having lived your life up through 2011 with full rights of an american citizen, do you think you could survive going back into 1815 and encountering slavery?
2.Would you conform or fight?
3. As happened to Dana and her husband, "if" you were somehow magically transported to another year with someone and THEY returned home, but you were left behind, would you stay forever in the same place, waiting hoping they'd come back, or would you leave and try to go on with your life knowing it could be years and years before they ever returned?

This is an AWESOME book. It took like 3 days to read, i absolutely couldn't put it down. When Enlgish class is over and we're done with all this Hamlet nonsense everyone should read this book, even if you don't like to read....during the summer..


tyler k 13-14 said...

I don't think I'd be able to live through slavery. Unfortunately for the people that had, werent used to anything else so it might have been easier to deal with the injustice of racism. Being from modern day society, the change would be too drastic and the injustice, more realized.

Kaitlyn H 11-12 said...

It would be hard to go from living your life freely and equal to others and the next day leaving all of that behind. I probably would fight for my freedom because I would know that obviously people of all races can live equally in peace, and I wouldn't be able to take being treated lower than I deserve.

Dana G. 13-14 said...

1)I think it would be difficult to be a slave, but I would have to adapt in order to survive. If I did not, nothing good would come from it.

Rachel T said...

1. I think if I got to live having freedom my whole life, I'd obviously be really frustrated reverting back to 1815 and I don't think I could deal with being treated like a piece of dirt.
2. I'd get a bunch of people together and fight.

KatherineS13-14 said...

1) It would be really really hard to go back to living in that time period. Going from full rights to being thought of as property would be extremely difficult. I do not know if I would be able to survive, but I would obviously try hard to do so.

Cassie M 11-12 said...

1. There is no way that I could ever accept slavery. Back then, women didn't have that many rights in general, and slaves had none. Women had to be meek and obedient all the time, and being from today's society, there is no way I could ever live like that. Women today are independent and have a say in important matters. I would for sure fight. Not knowing freedom may have kept some from fighting, but all of us modern folks would not sit back and take the unfair treatment. It is easier for people to fight for something that is lost than something that is completely unknown.