This section of the paper focuses on the ways in which the African slaves were oppressed in America as documented in Octavia Butler’s novel of Kindred. It elucidates some cases in the novel; including the novel’s writer who experienced the life of slavery to their masters. The paper further gives a prelude on how the owners of the slaves dominated, repressed and subjugated their slaves.
According to other sources that Butler used in composing the Kindred, the essays of Andrea Hairston, express the sufferings her fellow slaves including racial discrimination, harsh labor, separation from their families and even rape. She outlines the theme of oppression and power in similar ways. The struggle for power was between the slaves and the owners of plantations who were equally ruling these slaves (Butler 9). However, the novel also shows the struggle for power between the slaves themselves. The slaves were struggling to be in higher or better ranks of slavery that is, the “field-hands” slaves were fighting to become “house slaves.” This was because the slaves who worked in the whites’ homes were entitled to proper housing conditions, could eat better foods and were expected to perform less harsh jobs.
In her article, Octavia reiterates that in as much as the slaves had to vie to work as house slaves, working in the whites’ houses came with many challenges. These problems were mostly faced by the women who worked there since those roles could mostly be taken up by the females. She gives an example of female slaves who reported rape cases within themselves to maintain their positions of being house slaves. They never had their personal freedoms with their sexual body and could be inhumanly harassed by their owners. This condition of slavery makes Butler create a portrait of emotional charge showing the cruelty in slavery with all the accuracy in history that she can muster (Butler240).
The novel points out the aspect of feminism in the slaves’ oppression. Dana is an example of the female slaves who went through domination in 1976, having attained only 26 years by the time of enslavement (Butler29). This shows how the most vulnerable of the blacks (the women) were exploited by the whites’ power since they could not fight for themselves. Dana further expresses her pain in parenthood stating that she seemed to be the worst possible parent. It felt so demeaning bringing up a child in a society where she felt so inferior (Butler 77).
The theme of motherhood in slavery is equally emphasized in the novel. In the Americans’ plantations where Africans could work as slaves, Dana met several challenges, for instance, taking care of the sick African children out of the sympathy of motherhood. The slaves’ children never had equal rights to access the essential services that their fellows of the whites had. These children lacked quality healthcare in the plantations where their parents lived. They never had the opportunity to get the same quality of education that the others had and could not afford safe houses as well (Butler 78).
This second section of the paper addresses the methods that the natives of America used in responding and resisting the expansion of the western ideas and policies between 1830 and 1910. The policies that were formed during the second half of 19th century by the westerners influenced the American natives to expand towards the west where they lived. By the period of 1850s, almost all the tribes in the native America had settled in the west, near the Mississippi River. However, some of the Americans from the north and the southeast territories settled in the India.
Several laws and operations were developed and implemented in the U.S to distinct the relation between the Native American tribes and the federal government. By the time America got its independence, many European policies were adopted towards the native people. Despite their creation, these policies were later abandoned when the natives thought of coming up with their own because of the changing perspectives and supervision (Curthoys and Marilyn 112). With the consistent migration of the settlers into the controlled land of India, there were publications in the eastern newspapers regarding the cruel native tribes responsible for the massacres.
In efforts to bring down the fears, the United States government organized a conference in 1851 attended by several tribes of India and they came up with Fort Laramie treaty. In this treaty, every tribe of Native America gave in to boundary territory, gave the government the go-ahead to construct forts and roads within the area. In the treaty, they also vowed not to attack the migrant settlers. The Native Americans showed peaceful response to this policy and further accepted to bring to an end the tribal hostilities to be in term with the provisions of the treaty.
The agreement, however, had several challenges since many did not clearly understand the content of the treaty. It was also said that the treaty did not observe, rather became insensitive to the cultures of the natives of America. Moreover, the more the settlers stayed in the west, the more they wanted more land, and this made the federal government reduce their reservations continually. Several Native Americans fought back to secure their tribe’s and lands survival which led to the battle in the west from 1861 to 1891(Curthoys and Marilyn 124). This was due to the unfair and dishonest policies of the government.
The Native American policies changed radically after the end of the civil war. The Reformers had a feeling that the policies of compelling the natives of America on the reservations were too harsh (Curthoys and Marilyn 153). In the year 1871, the U.S federal government amended a pivot law that provided that the U.S would no longer handle the native groups of America as independent nations. This policy signaled a radical shift in the state’s relationship with the indigenous groups. The Congress, therefore, deemed Native Americans as wards of the government and not as nations out of jurisdictional control. By so doing this, the Congress hoped that it would be simpler to make and implement the policy of assimilation.
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003. Internet resource.
Curthoys, Ann, and Marilyn Lake. Connected Worlds: History in Trans-National Perspective. Canberra: ANU E Press, 2006. Internet resource.