In Kindred, how does Dana face the problems of race or gender?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What is so interesting about Dana is that as she comes to spend more and more time in the past, she begins to accept the way that others view her in the past. Although she initially goes into the past as a modern, emancipated black woman, who struggles against being viewed as a slave and the hardships of being black and female, gradually she comes to identify with how others view her, so much so that when she goes back to the Weylin house in the past towards the end of the novel she comes to think of it as being home:

I could recall walking along the narrow dirt road that ran past the Weylin house and seeing the house, shadowy in twilight, boxy and familiar... I could recall feeling relief at seeing the house, feeling that I had come home. And having to stop and correct myself, remind myself that I was in an alien, dangerous place.

This is a very disturbing and challenging comment, as through it Butler suggests that accepting the role of being enslaved as a black woman is more than just a defence mechanism: it is something that is forced upon individuals by the way that others view them. In Maryland, everybody sees Dana as a black female slave with no rights and privileges. The more time Dana spends in the past, the more she views herself in these terms as well, accepting the identity that others thrust upon her. Conformity is something that impacts us all, Butler suggests, and this is indicated in the way that Dana feels that the Weylin house is in some strange and shocking way her home now.