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Kindred

For the most part, some of what I gathered from our discussion today was the uneasiness we, as a group, had with the way in which we were supposed to view Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” in a historical context. We seemed to be hung up when comparing “Kindred” and “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” for a number of reasons. Among them, are the obvious associations that each of the books have for us. In “Incidents” we could see a literal slave narrative, one that was told from the perspective of a person we are attempting to understand. “Kindred,” on the other hand, is a purely fictional book told from the perspective of a contemporary writer. What we seem to be struggling with is that, in “Kindred” we can see slavery as it would be from our perspective, and can therefore relate to it quite easily. With “Incidents” we know that it is a literal tale, but it is told from (at least to us) such an alien perspective and therefore is much harder to understand and relate to, because we are not the target audience. I feel that this creates an interesting dynamic between the two works and that they end up being rather complementary. I, for one, can gather more out of each after reading the other, and I think that this is an important affect of their differences in dealing with the subject.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. katelongoria
    March 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I agree that the two different point of view between Kindred and Incidents made a difference of accessibility. I wonder if Butler read Incidents before writing Kindred, a lot of the events in Kindred reminded me of Incidents.

  2. meganvestal
    March 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I agree that the novels seem to have a buzzing dynamic between them. However, I noticed that simply by knowing that Incidents was auto-biographical and Kindred was fiction I read the books differently. I read Incidents horrified, and I read Kindred like I would read Harry Potter or any other story. Looking back I think that is strange because some of the atrocities described in Kindred are equally as nasty as the ones described in Incidents, but knowing that I could have the ‘fantasy’ buffer cushioned the reality of the events for me. I had never considered how much genre could color my perspective.

  3. March 23, 2011 at 12:06 am

    The real hang up, perhaps, is that “Kindred” is ultimately a work of fiction, however much it may be historically based. Though we can relate to it easier, the text cannot be regarded with the same gravity as a primary source like “Incidents”.

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