Analysis of the Book Kindred

In the book, Kindred, Butler talks of the lamentations of African Americans at the hands of racist Whites. The book employs a young feminist writer to explore the master-slavery dynamics. The persona, Dana, meets her ancestors; one who is a slave owner and the other a slave who has been forced into concubinage. In the entire setting of the book, the theme of power takes center stage as well as slavery. Crossley, (pp. 268) asserts that the book Kindred is different from other books since “it is a central text in her exploration of the webs of power in human relationships”. Indeed power influences the manner in which human beings interact with each other as has been shown in the example of Dana’s ancestors. According to Steinberg (pp. 465) the novel is “an interpretation of a power struggle in which Dana attempts to wrest control of her body and psyche”. The book revolves around the theme of power; the power between relationships, gender, race and the hierarchy of the slave system. The book is a manifestation that every struggle is influenced by power.

The distribution of power is contributing and determining factor on slavery as a whole. The existence of slavery is only because the proponents of the vice are too hungry for power to even think of their fellow humans as dignified people. Indeed, one of the negative effects of power is in its corrupting influence and the incidence of slavery. Even though Rufus holds all the power over Alice in their relationship, she never seems to surrender herself to him. The book describes interracial marriages as some form of slavery whereby the African woman is held in bondage by the superior White. Steinberg (pp. 469) posits that “part of Dana’s power struggle with slavery is coming to an awareness of the ways in which she might be considered an object of possession”. The degradation of slavery “is constant as is the determination of the people under slavery” (Crossley, pp. 268).

The negativity associated with race is also a product of the power struggles prevalent in any society. In fact, it is only through races that slavery can be manifested as the book reveals. Accordingly, people must not escape the history of racism but must instead confront it thus “reducing its power to pull them back to earlier forms of interaction” (Butler, pp. 73). Dana comments that her blood link with Rufus is struck by “the uncanny synonymy of the words ‘husband’ and ‘master’ when the latter gets married” (Crossley, pp. 276). It is purely for this reason that Dana envisages a future where race was no longer a factor and that all people were colorblind. Kevin and Dana are forced to endure racial slurs such as “chocolate and vanilla porn” (Butler, pp. 50) that are spoken by her coworker. The evidence of racism in the book is proof that power has the ability to corrupt even the most educated to practice archaic behaviors such as racism. It challenges the fixity of races by portraying people of different races as related. For instance, Dana’s kinship to Rufus is evidence of the absence of such myths as racial purity.

In the book, the writer addresses the issue of gender equality and the difficulty of achieving the same without power. In fact Steinberg (pp. 289) asserts that “the struggle for gender equality is to a great extent influenced by power”. Ideally, power seems to be an inhibitive force to the prospects of achieving gender equity as the book portrays. To put in other terms, there exists a form of tyranny of one gender over the other. For instance, even when other forms of abuse such as racism and slavery are orchestrated, there always seems to be a gender that is more vulnerable than the other. This has led to the development of permanent structures of this abuse with one gender facing the brunt of the effects of the abuses and the other one being the pioneer of the said abuses. In fact, the book is a testament of the fact that “men are more violent than women” (Butler, pp 241). Kelvin, despite having a loathing for the chattel system and being a good man is implicated in the supremacist culture through his gender. It becomes harder to fight the vice that is gender inequality when power is vested in the people who are the beneficiaries of this abuse. Steinberg (pp. 472) argues that Dana uses her power to “confront matters of temporal as well as race liberation”.

It is quite clear that power is at the center of every struggle in the society. Everyone fighting for a share of their rights is determined and convinced that only through power can they achieve their rights. Evidently, power is at the center of the vices portrayed in this book and leads to issues such as slavery, racism and gender inequality. Ideally, the proponents of such vices have their motivation in the acquisition of power. Quotes from the book and from two supporting books have proved that indeed every struggle is influenced by power. Every time power is given to part of the people, the others must be ready to suffer at the hands of the powerful. The obsession with power is a detriment to the progress of the world society and its eventual prosperity. Ideally, empowerment of all people is the only sure way of fighting against all the vices facing the world.


Works cited

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. , 2014. Internet resource.


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