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Blog 12

Hi guys,

While I did not enjoy with many of Steinberg’s claims about Kindred, it did encourage me to analyze many of the relationships within the novel more closely than I had originally. I was interested in looking more deeply, in particular, into Dana’s relationships with the other slaves, with Kevin, and with Rufus. Okay, I have a ton of thoughts on this essay, so I will try to make them as organized as possible.

The relationships between slaves were different from what I had expected when I began reading this novel. As Steinberg points out, most slave narratives romanticize the friendships during the time period. While I do realize that what little friendships slaves did have at that time were meaningful, Butler was right not to stretch them. When it comes down to it, she is looking out for herself and all of the other slaves are looking out for themselves. Friendship simply wasn’t a priority. So while it originally made me uncomfortable not to have much dialogue or sharing of secrets between Dana and other slaves, I ultimately think it was for the best. Steinberg, in his essay, also makes note of the separation Butler put between Dana and the other slaves simply by the fact that she was, “experiencing victimization without being a victim” herself. I think there is a fine line, which Butler had to walk, and she did it perfectly. Had Dana not continuously referred to how blessed she was when living in the 1970s and her separation and luck in the 1800s, Butler could have easily been accused of taking the slave experience too lightly. But power was also an important theme in Kindred as well as in Steinberg’s essay, and I think it is important to realize that one of the ways Dana gains power through the novel is by attempting to help others. Her attempt to form meaningful relationships and to help others makes her a sympathetic character even though she is not actually all that close with any of them.

Her relationship with Kevin and with Rufus was also quite interesting. We spent a lot of time talking about Steinberg’s comparison of interracial, heterosexual marriage to slavery, so I will not bore anyone too much now. I do still believe his statement is inaccurate, but I guess I couldn’t fully articulate why until sitting on the idea for a while. Acclimation and the lack of power within marriage are closely intertwined in Steinberg’s essay, but his problem was that Dana was acclimating to submissiveness over time and that is why he believes her marriage was similar to slavery. However, we all learn to acclimate to situations where we must remain relatively submissive all the time. Their marriage was nothing like slavery in their modern-day home other than the fact that Kevin (somewhat jokingly) stated that she would get to write all she wanted for him. The fact of the matter is, had she not acclimated to the idea of people thinking she was his slave, they would have been killed. Kevin said that Dana owned to him in a sense so that they would both survive, not because their marriage is structured unfairly. I think Steinberg took that particular scene way out of context. This is getting way too long, so I will try to wrap it up, but the usurping of power was one of the themes that most interested me, so my next post will probably be on that. Goodnight!


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. markcotham
    March 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    “Steinberg, in his essay, also makes note of the separation Butler put between Dana and the other slaves simply by the fact that she was, ‘experiencing victimization without being a victim’ herself.”

    I noticed that in the book too, and I liked it, because it always made me feel that, as bad as Dana had it, she could have had it unimaginably worse. It really gave me a sort of framework of all the different levels of suffering in the narrative.

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