Author Octavia E. Butler tries to be as real as possible with the quotes she created in ‘Kindred’ – even though a large part of the book is based on science fiction and entails traveling back through time and exploring the era of slavery. Quotes here are mostly on slavery, survival, freedom, and family.
Society and Social System
(Tom Weylin) wasn’t a monster at all. Just an ordinary man who sometimes did the monstrous things his society said were legal and proper.
This is one of the most palpable quotes in ‘Kindred,’ which carries a lot of underlying messages for readers. With this quote, Butler tries to exonerate a villain of the book, Tom Weylin, from his cruelties and acts of malevolence towards his subjects – whether they’re his (Black) slaves or his animals (horses).
Readers are brought to the reality that beneath all those treacheries, Weylin is just like everyone else, normal, only born into a flawed world. With this quote, Butler is indirectly asking, what if society and social systems didn’t condone such violations of animals and peoples’ rights? What if people lived as one and genuinely loved each other? If that were the case, perhaps Weylin wouldn’t have been the man he is.
Don’t argue with white folks…Don’t tell them no. Don’t let them see you mad.
‘Kindred’, for the most part, connects to a world dominated by white supremacy. This makes sense since the book’s backstory is pinned on the era of slavery – particularly set in the American south of Maryland in the early 1800s. This excerpt is one of the few statements that capture the height of power enjoyed by the privileged white folks, yet it also shows the level of violation of the right to freedom for all the other races – particularly the black race.
Two Realities, Same Issues
I sat still, breathed deeply, calming myself, believing him. I did believe him… I had already accepted the fact that I had moved thorough time.
By this statement, Dana realizes that for real, she’s been traveling through time after a long period of being afraid, confused, and not knowing what’s happening to her. This is one side to it. Another side, however, is Dana realizing that despite her being in another reality – in this case, 1815 Maryland, the issue of race is still the same – only it’s worse, legal.
Dana’s present reality of 1976 proves similar to the past which she visits because there’s still a sort of discriminatory treatment among races. For example, she and Kelvin’s (a white guy) decision to get married is seen as being odd and hugely inappropriate by society.
Sometimes I wrote things because I couldn’t say them… couldn’t keep them bottled inside me.
Dana is a writer who has just moved with her man Kelvin into a new city to have a fresh perspective on life and hopefully advance her professional career. Although she has a genuine passion for writing and storytelling, one of the perks she enjoys by being a writer is the freedom it gives her to express herself and not get emotionally (or physically, in the past) bruised for it.
To her, writing is more than just a career but also an escape to an ideal world where she could be herself and speak up for or against the things that really matter to her.
Why is Tom Weylin Cruel to Dana?
Tom Weylin is a master of many slaves and father to Dana’s direct forebear Rufus, but he doesn’t know Dana has come from the future, so he whips and tortured her like all the other black slaves in his household.
How is early 1800s Maryland society responsible for raising so many cruel individuals?
In the early 1800s, Maryland was one of the major hotspots for slavery, so it is only natural that slave masters and lords were the way that they were – cruel – to their subjects, as was the historical norm.
What is similar in Dana’s 1976 reality to that of the 1815’s?
Dana finds that segregation is one common practice in both realities; however, with hers, it is more of a systemic thing compared to that of her ancestors, which was a social norm.