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Literary Stockholm Syndrome?

Kindred by Ocatavia E. Butler

My feelings regarding it seemed to have a few peaks and valleys. I’m not sure how exactly to express my reaction – maybe because I’m not too sure what it is just yet. Just too many ideas and subjects that I want to connect the story to maybe.

Initially I was hesitant fearing that things may become similar to Galland’s attempt at understanding the life of a slave, afraid that things may become a bit too romanticized in attempts at sympathy or empathy. While reading Galland the class debated “real” versus “empathized” feelings and experiences, and I think Butler attempted to address these issues in the beginning of Dana’s journey. In the beginning of Part 7 of The Fall Dana begins to consider what her and Kevin’s experience is like – are a  they undergoing acclimatization or have they legitimately begun believing their roles?

Although I don’t think it relates much to our class, I found Dana’s sociological position extremely interesting. Her being grouped in the subservient class yet not accepted by that group, nor fully accepted by the group that enslaves her. I don’t want to waste time with things that don’t necessarily pertain to our class, so I’ll leave it at that.

In regards to my title, I was referring to Rufus’ relationship with Dana and how it seemed to come across. This may be where most of my confusion comes from. The dynamics of their relationship kept changing, only finding consistently in how dangerously they always were to hating or hurting one another. I played psychiatrist for a bit and considered she may have remained (to an extent) loyal to him as a result of stockholm syndrome, or perhaps even the nightingale effect. Obviously her emotions didn’t become sexual for her, but her genuine care for him despite his abuse may be partly attributed to these syndromes.

Looking forward to discussing this with the class.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 4lillie5
    March 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    As for Dana’s liminal position in the book- I think it’s definitely relevant! Isn’t this possibly similar to the experiences of mixed race people at the time, or “mulattos”? With so many slaveholders having illegitimate children with their slaves, these people were likely a real presence during the time. It’d be interesting to hear one of their stories.

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