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Kindred is a novel stuffed with Whippings, hangings, dog attacks, rape and other bloodshed brutalities. The violent episodes domineering the novel are not included by Butler to scare and shock the readers but with an aim to spotlight the terror faced by African-Americans in the 1800’s due to poor politically enacted legal guidelines which did not allow whites to treat blacks as their equals. In the novel, political violence is witnessed from troubles that attributed to poor political functioning i.e. oppression.
Whites in the novel through their leaders are brainwashed to believe that they have a proper and duty to enslave a fellow black and even inflict bodily harm on them. Blacks were made to understand that any notion of independence, rebelliousness, curiosity or rebelliousness was rewarded with punishment, i.e. whipping.
My paper will look at the cases of political violence in the novel, and the implications brought across by the ferocity which includes breeding other forms of violence such as sexual and physical violence.
Theme of Political Violence in the Novel
In the novel Kindred by Butler, Political violence is evident where politically enacted laws are not democratic, i.e. they favour one races over another, hence breeding other forms of violence such as sexual violence as a present by Rufus where he tells Kevin, “I saw you…You were fighting with Dana just before you came here” (Butler, pp. 64). In the context, Rufus means that Kevin and Dana were having sex of violence reason being that Kevin and Dana have an abusive violent relationship with Dana which is evident when Kevin buys a wooden ruler ten gives it to Dana and insists that Dana should practice the ruler on him (Butler pp.47).
The abusive relationship could have been raised by the fact that Kevin was white and Dana black and they both stood on different platforms regarding the laws of society during the time which rendered one superior to the other.
Violence in the novel is also evident where slaves are put under oppression originating from politically enacted rules of the land that favoured the whites over the blacks. The oppression in discussion is evident where Kevin reflects Rufus behaviour to be founded upon “Transgenerational adaptations associated with past traumas of slavery and ongoing oppression” (Butler, pp.70). Kevin sentiments present the type of trauma suffered by blacks due to oppression and punishments bred by the current political which undermined them and overlooked whites as superior granting them capabilities to rule over black lives.
Politics enacted laws that promoted rape as the whites were given a higher social standing and enacted laws were on their side. Rufus embraces the political laws by expecting to get his way using violence and coercion where necessary especially with black women. Black women were hardly considered as people, but more of objects that were easily attainable when needed and this is evident on how Rufus viewed Dana. Rufus due to political enacted laws which oppress the blacks and sees raping blacks as a common thing far from breaking the law. Rufus rapes Alice and also tries to rape Dana.
From the above discussion relating to the novel. It is evident that laws which were formulated under political backgrounds bred different types of violence’s but which all point out to the same source. If the laws were formulated in an orderly manner giving everyone an equal position in the society as in the current world, such acts of social and physical violence propagated by poorly formulated laws would have not been observed in society.
Butler, Octavia. Kindred. Beacon Press, 2004.
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