Reading 802 Fall 11 Kindred essay

The lowest point of the totem pole she always tried

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the lowest point of the totem pole, she always tried to be careful about how she “behaved” around men in authority such as Tom Weylin. In the beginning pages of The Fall , Dana speaks of noticing Tom staring at her menacingly. She states “At first I stared back. Then I looked away, remembering that I was supposed to be a slave. Slaves lowered their eyes respectfully. To stare back was insolent. Or at least that was what my books said .”(Butler 66) Bu tler does a fine job in putting the issue of racial oppression under the microscope in Kindred. “By far the majority of science fiction deals with racial tension by ignoring it. In many books, the characters’ race is either not mentioned and probably assumed to be white, or if mentioned, is irrelevant to the events of the story and functions only as an additional descriptor, such as hair color or height. (Leonard 254).” In this literary work, Butler makes it is impossible to not place a spotlight on the racial oppression of the slaves and their oppressors. Without doing so the historical aspects of the plot would be a lie. There would be nothing historical about the book and Dana’s journey in its entirety would unravel. The recurring themes of racial oppression and slavery help to keep the story of Kindred realistic, while still being a fictionalized tale. Butler does this by just simply
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holding nothing back and refraining from sugar coating the truth. As Leonard says in her literary work, Race and Ethnicity in Science Fiction , ”When science fiction writers, white or not, include racial issues in their fiction, they enter a territory bounded on one side by readers who feel that the work does not go far enough to address the social ills of the culture they write in and by other readers who think it goes too far ( Leonard 254).” Rather than write about racial issues subliminally “by imagining a world where there are non- issues, where colorblindness is the norm(Leonard 254).” Butler chooses to take the reality of the world, as harsh as it may be and incorporate it into her fictional account. Not to say that the utopian- like way of writing science fiction is incorrect, it just does not mesh well with Kindred’s plot. For example, if there was no mention of the oppression, humiliation and pain that the slaves were forced to endure due to their skin color, what would have kept Alice from staying with Isaac, rather than be forced to be with Rufus? If there was colorblindness, there would not be a sense of racial superiority among the white characters. This would also mean that there would be equality amongst the enslaved blacks and the whites that owned them. This would also mean that in reality, actual historical accounts such as Plenty Coups travels to Washington , in which Coups travels with other tribal chiefs to unsuccessfully negotiate the halting of building a railroad on the lands of his tribe and many others were successful ( Plenty Coups; Cultural Conversations). Realistically speaking, it is as if
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Christopher Reinemann
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