59 pages 1 hour read

Octavia E. Butler

Kindred

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1979

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Character Analysis

Edana “Dana” Franklin

Dana is the protagonist who, through her connection to her ancestor, Rufus, travels to the past to save his life various times. As a direct contrast to the “white savior” trope in which a white person saves a nonwhite person from harm, Dana becomes the Black savior. While the white savior usually acts out of guilt or selfishness, Dana is—perhaps selfishly—simply trying to preserve her family line so that she can be born. She believes she can influence Rufus into being a kind person despite his familial and societal upbringing. She begins with this optimistic, modernist belief in Rufus’s potential for progress, but she eventually realizes she is from a postmodern society where this is not realistic. She eventually accepts that she must kill her ancestor to survive and that her ability to time travel might never make rational sense. Therefore, Dana’s character arc mimics the historical transition from modernism to postmodernism.

Moreover, because Dana, like Butler, is a writer, she becomes Butler’s alter ego as both try to understand their Black female identity in a historical and literary context. In a world almost completely out of her control, made even more so because of her involuntary time travel, Dana finds solace and autonomy in writing.

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