Kindred by Octavia Butler Book Review
People often have to go against societal norms and expectations to grow as humans.
In Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Rufus brings up an important point about Dana and Kevin’s marriage when he says “I told her everything. Even about you and Kevin being married. Especially about that” (124). This instance of Dana and Kevin’s biracial marriage can be compared to the British royalty and the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. According to the article, prior to the marriage, the Queen was not supportive of Prince Harry marrying an American actress because that was not tradition. “The Queen will be very disappointed” (Hill 40). These marriages are very significant in their own ways because they both went beyond the expectations that some people had of them, and they advanced forward as people because they defied those limits. Furthermore, with Dana and Kevin’s marriage in Kindred, as a result, relatives on both sides of the family thought less of them and felt that it was wrong. However, despite what others thought of them, Kevin and Dana’s love for each other grew stronger, and they broke through the expectations of their families. Additionally, with Harry and Meghan, many people were opposed to the marriage of royalty to non-royalty, however, their love for each other was so strong, that they were able to break free from those expectations that others had of them, including the Queen herself. Obviously, after the wedding, the Queen was more supportive, but she wasn’t originally, and that was her expectation that the royal couple broke free from.
In a different part of the novel Kindred, Dana reflects on the fact that “I could recall walking along the narrow dirt road that ran past the Weylin house and seeing the house, shadowy in twilight, boxy and familiar...I could recall feeling relief at seeing the house, feeling that I had come home. And having to stop and correct myself, remind myself that I was in an alien, dangerous place” (Butler 190). This instance of Dana’s realization that even though she may feel relieved sometimes in Maryland, she was not from there can be compared to Malala Yousafzai in Swat Valley, Pakistan. This comparison can be noted in an article about her in TIME magazine when the author says “Over the next three years, Yousafzai wrote about her life and her desire to get an education, in a region where girls' schools were being shuttered and bombed” (Salke). These situations are very similar because Dana was a woman who was against slavery, but she had to act like a slave to survive. In Malala’s case, she was forced to stay silent about the Taliban, however, she took it one step further and spoke out about them and wrote things that were against what they wanted, and unfortunately, that resulted in her getting shot by the Taliban. These situations are very important because people (slave owners and the Taliban) had expectations that they would cooperate with them and not go against them, but ultimately, those boundaries are broken by these two empowering women.
One important instance in Kindred where gender roles in history are brought up is when Dana’s cousin tells her "I never thought you'd be fool enough to let a man beat you" (Butler 116). In comparison to the situation told in Kindred, one very important movement in United States history is the Women’s Rights Movement. Two pioneers of that movement were Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and in an article by Boston University Law Review:
Many women’s rights leaders who had devoted themselves to the antislavery movement saw the end of the Civil War, emancipation, and Reconstruction as the turning point toward a bright future that would [also] include women’s rights. Some of the most prominent women suffrage leaders envisioned an emancipatory Reconstruction and even contemplated a second founding of the great American Republic that would finally achieve the dream of equal citizenship, uniting the efforts of Black people and women. (Sapiro 1587-1588)
These two instances are very important to their own causes because with Dana, she showed strength in standing up for herself as a woman, which was a very uncommon thing at the time. It showed others that women can stand up for themselves, and it additionally made it seem like Dana was mentally stronger than most women. Furthermore, with the Women’s Suffrage Movement women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, also showed empowerment in different ways, however, their actions were on a much larger scale. Not only did they fight for equal rights and voting rights for women, but they also fought for those rights for blacks. These movements for women and blacks were very crucial to the development of the United States, as it allowed for more freedoms for certain citizens. The women fighting for equal rights didn’t have a job, and they were expected by society to just stay in the house and cook and clean, but they wanted more, they wanted to do anything they set their hearts to, and that was fighting so that everybody, regardless of race or gender, could do what they wanted and live out their dreams.