Kindred Essay

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Jack O’Brien
Dr. Powell
English 121

To Make a Slave

Slaves do not have an option to decide whether they are born a slave or not, nor do they choose to be one either. In Octavia Butler’s Kindred, we find that a slave’s actions do not directly make them a slave, and nothing that they can do will affect the status quo of slavery. Rather it is the actions that a slave-owner makes that makes a slave, and in doing so takes away their humanity. Tom Weylin knows that he can have any female slave that he wants; stripping that person of her dignity and sense of ownership in her own body. In using his slaves for his own sexual conquests Weylin is making it clear that he owns their bodies, not them. This is how he can make slaves. By stripping them of their own sense of self-worth, slaves know that it is Weylin who decides their fate not them. Upon seeing Dana step out of Kevin’s room one morning “he almost smiled-came as near to smiling as I’d ever seen. And he winked”(97) Weylin’s reaction is something to be expected because he has had many similar sexual relationships with his own slaves. By winking at Dana Weylin is putting his stamp of approval on their relationship. Even Dana knows “that if Margaret got me kicked out it wouldn’t be for doing a thing as normal as sleeping with my master” (97) her body is one of the only things that can help her in this time period. In this case Dana is protecting herself by having sex with Kevin, and that she needs to play a whore to protect herself. Weylin’s use of sex is one of the most powerful tools that a slave owner has at his disposal and he knows this. Sex is a symbol of power; the power to tell a woman to come into your bedroom and not have any say in the matter. This power only reinforces Weylin’s position and therefore his ability to actually turn a slave into one. Similarly, a slave’s body is viewed as a possession; a traded commodity only seen in the value of how much money that they can gain for...
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