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Published: 27-11-2019

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Mirror Dynamics Between Alice and Dana

As 1 might appear into a mirror, the reflections that they see may differ. For Dana Franklin in Octavia Butler’s Kindred (1979), she sees her extended lost ancestor Alice Greenwood. The story tells the tale of Dana, a young black lady in the 70’s, and her husband Kevin, a young white author, as they travel to and from the antebellum South of the 1800’s. The book begins with Dana and Kevin unpacking into a new residence on Dana’s 26th birthday, till Dana passes out and awakes to uncover herself near the Weylin plantation. It becomes clear to Dana and Kevin that the aim to her time travelling is to hold Rufus Weylin, who Dana discovers to be her ancestor, safe in order to carry on their line. Dana travels around six occasions to the Weylin plantation in the previous, every time obtaining a lot more and a lot more attempting and unsafe for Dana. Soon following meeting Rufus, Dana meets Alice and discovers her to be the other half of her ancestry. Being aware of these pieces of details, Dana goes to the extremes to maintain Rufus and Alice alive every single time she travels to the past. Due to her role as ancestor to Dana, Alice becomes an really critical character in Kindred because she represents a version of who Dana would be if she had been born in the previous, a reflection of Dana herself, and a foil to Dana inside the story. Octavia Butler carefully creates Alice Greenwood to be an incredibly important character and mirror to Dana Franklin, and therefore is worthy of cautious analysis.

While Dana could not have been born in the early 1800’s, she quickly adapts to the time and the customs that accompany it. The antebellum South creates a sense of an alternate reality for Dana and Alice, Dana’s distant relative, gradually begins to represent what Dana would have been like if she had been born into this time. Aside from the clear similarities, such as their ethnicity and heritage, Dana and Alice are usually compared. This can be seen when Rufus gets drunk and stumbles into Alice’s cabin: “’Behold the lady,’ he said. And he looked from a single to the other of us. ‘You actually are only one particular woman. Did you know that?’” (Butler 228). Alice explains after he leaves that Rufus meant that “’[h]e likes me in bed, and you out of bed, and you and I look alike if you can think what individuals say…. Anyway, all that signifies we’re two halves of the identical woman….” (Butler 228). This scene shows that Rufus sees the two of them the exact same way, and that if Dana had been born in the identical time and had been much less educated she may well have been in the very same circumstance that Alice was currently in. In this exact same sense, Dana and Alice can be drawn upon and compared to be the identical particular person. Alice represents a mirrored image of Dana, one particular much less educated and from a a lot more open-minded time, and in turn draws on Dana’s character to make a number of critical points about gender and race concerns within Kindred. The scene in which Dana considers Alice’s future with Rufus and how she would come to conceive Dana’s ancestor shows this concept immensely by Dana saying, “Alice Greenwood. How would she marry this boy? Or would it be marriage? And why hadn’t a person in my loved ones talked about that Rufus Weylin was white?” (Butler 28). By questioning her heritage and how it came to be, focusing solely on Alice and Rufus’ mixed relationship, demonstrates Dana’s own slight obsession with somebody in her family members being white, as her uncle had when she introduced the believed of Dana marrying Kevin, yet another white man: “[n]ow … it is as though I’ve rejected him. Or at least that is the way he feels …. He wants me to marry somebody like him – someone who appears like him. A black man.” (Butler 111). In an additional scene in “The Fight”, shows Dana and Alice talking about Kevin and Rufus, where Alice says that Kevin is just like Rufus just due to the fact of the color of their skin (Butler 168). This creates yet another parallel between the lives of Dana and Alice, but a lot more specifically their relationships with white males. By portraying Alice to be a reflection of Dana, Octavia Butler paints a heart wrenching portrait of the historical south and how racism travels, just as Dana and Kevin do, through time.

To contrast such stark resemblances, Butler also portrays Alice as Dana’s foil. While there are numerous foils within Kindred, nevertheless one particular that has such a lasting impact on the plot of the book is Alice’s foil against Dana. Alice’s accurate history of slavery and firsthand encounter of the antebellum south makes way for discussion on Dana’s disfigured heritage. Alice represents the accurate African American slave, although Alice comments that Dana, “[will] care. And you will assist me. Else, you’d have to see your self for the white nigger you are, and you couldn’t stand that,” (Butler 235). Alice says this to Dana to convince her to aid Alice escape the Weylin plantation with her two surviving kids. Alice and Dana can also be contrasted by seeking at their language. Dana is continually being confronted by how she talks by a young Rufus when he tells Dana “[y]ou do not talk right” or when Nigel tells Dana “[y]ou positive do speak funny” (Butler 30, 60), although Alice’s way of speech is regarded as standard. Nonetheless, point of view is one of the most critical differences among Alice and Dana. Dana represents a more modern day, open minded society and believes that her survival and the fight for her life would be better than living a life of slavery and condemnation, whilst Alice was raised in a society that supports and enables racism and slavery and in turn took her own life, representing the thought that death was more kind than the life she was living. Butler creates Alice as a warped, opposite of Dana in order to represent genuinely critical subjects each inside the book and in the genuine world, and presents Alice as one of the most pivotal characters inside the story.

Kindred covers vital topics of racism, outdoors agents, sympathy versus empathy, slavery, and far more inside its profound and complex characters. Dana Franklin and Alice Greenwood produce exciting dynamics that actually define the struggles of the previous, and even the present, even though establishing heartbreaking relationships amongst all of the characters. Alice represents a mirror to Dana’s personal character and what Dana would have been like if she had been born within the years of slavery. On the other hand, Alice also represents a warped image of Dana, or the polar opposite of her, in order to show the argument of sympathy versus empathy. Dana can't recognize completely the life of a slave even although her ancestors have been slaves and she is sent back in time to witness slavery, so she becomes an outside agent and a sympathizer. Alice represents the empathizer in these circumstances. Octavia Butler crafts a true function of literary art by way of her tantalizing relationships in between her characters as seen through the time they dwell in, specifically inside the relationship among Alice and Dana. Butler’s work forces readers to appear into the mirror and see themselves via a mirror and evaluate themselves as outside agents, and in turn reevaluate their personal actions, generating Kindred a timeless piece of fiction worthy of significantly praise.
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