Butler maintained that Kindred is not really science fiction: there is no scientific explanation for Dana's voyages to the past, and the time travel story is a staple of the genre. It is never explained how Dana is transported into the past or why her arm should be severed upon her final return. While the novel contains elements of science fiction, it also works from the tradition of the slave narrative and the historical novel. As Crossley concluded, "Butler's novel is an experiment that resists easy classification by blurring the usual boundaries of genre." Which genre would you use to categorize Kindred: science fiction, slave narrative, or historical fiction? Why? Explain by using both of the sources above.  

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This is an excellent question and one I have debated myself. I'm not sure exactly which "sources" you need to use based on the wording of your question, but I'll try to help guide you through my own feelings regarding the classification of this novel.

When I think of science ...

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This is an excellent question and one I have debated myself. I'm not sure exactly which "sources" you need to use based on the wording of your question, but I'll try to help guide you through my own feelings regarding the classification of this novel.

When I think of science fiction, I think about a work that is mostly futuristic. These works are typically dependent on complex technologies in some way. Although Kindred does include time travel, which is an element common to science fiction, that isn't the focus of the work. At its core, the purpose of this novel is not an investigation into the scientifically possible.

Asking ourselves what the purpose of this novel actually is goes a long way in classifying it, in my opinion. I believe the purpose is an examination of the complexities of slave life from a modern feminist lens. Dana provides this lens, and she often struggles with the truths she finds. Living as a slave and realizing that her ancestors were slave owners is a truth that she must come to terms with in stages. She develops complex feelings toward Rufus and finds that she doesn't simply hate him because of his role in this society.

Therefore, if I have to categorize this work within one label, I would identify it as historical fiction because I think this best captures the overall purpose of Dana's story.

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