In the novel Kindred Butler confronts us with differences of black and white and past and present. All of the issues in Kindred are derived from issues of black and white. Dana’s race and literacy is what defines her in the 1800’s in Maryland and in 1976 in California. As a reader I’m yanked between past and present as well as the characters Dana and Kevin. Dana and her husband are forced to experience slavery in Maryland and their home in California seems far gone. We are all affected by the legacy of slavery in one way or another, whether we know it or not. Whites and blacks are affected by the past and present types of racism. In some way we are all connected to slavery and Dana finds that out when she is taken back to the 1800’s. The past stereotypes of blacks in the 1800’s are still imbedded in our thoughts a hundred years later.
Race was a key motif in the novel, which was expected since the novel is about slavery. Dana was married to a white man named Kevin in 1976 then pulled into the 1800’s where a black woman marrying a black man was unheard of. Dana’s intelligence made her experience in the 1800’s different from other slaves. They couldn’t understand how she was so intelligent since blacks were seen as inhumane and unintelligent. Race is what links Dana to the other slaves although they wanted to let her know that she was no different from them. Carrie rubbed Dana’s face to show her know that her skin color does not come off. The slaves on the Weylin plantation saw Dana as the house-nigger, handkerchief-head, and the female Uncle Tom. Her intellect and connection with Rufus is what made her seem as such. She was looked at as the house-nigger because she worked in the house cleaning and teaching Rufus and never on the field. Handkerchief-head is what the slaves called her because they didn’t feel like she identified with them, but only identified with whites. The slaves didn’t know...
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