Kindred- the Arm

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You don’t appreciate it until you lose it…right? This quote targets the “seemingly” miniscule and insignificant aspect of our lives, such as the simple luxuries like cars and air conditioning. But what if it was an arm? In Kindred, Dana unfortunately had to learn the importance of an arm the hard way: without it. Octavia E. Butler uses Dana’s left arm as a symbol of the link between the two separate lives that she has, the ignorant life of the present and the deadly realistic life of the past. “I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm” (Butler 9). These are the first two sentences of this book. As this book progresses, the story of Dana unravels to the reader. Not until the very end does the reader understand the significance of the arm mentioned on the first page. On the last page of this book, the reader finds out what really happened to her arm. “Something hard and stronger than Rufus’s hand clamped down on [her] arm, squeezing it, stiffening it, pressing into it─painlessly, at first─melting into it, meshing with it as though somehow [her] arm were being absorbed into something. Something cold and nonliving. Something… paint, plaster, wood─a wall. The wall of [her] living room” (Butler 260-261). Rufus, in a way, has become the wall. A dead, meaningless object. This symbolizes the end of her life in the past. She had to sacrifice her arm and the lives of Nigel, Carrie, and others living on the farm to be able to return without worrying about going back. Her arm is the link between the past life and her present life, a past life of hardships and discrimination, and a present life where the effects exist. She ended her guardian-like character in Rufus’s life to go and live her own, losing her arm in the process. In today’s society, people are satisfied with the basic facts. They don’t care to delve deeper into subjects and ask why. But still, the effects of the past are still evident in normal every day life. Kevin was a white man. Dana was a black...
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