How has the author succeed in writing Kindred so that the reader could feel history as well as learn about the facts of it?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Part of the brilliance of this novel is the way in which we see history through the eyes of the modern day Dana. The author develops the description of the former world to such an extent that it is right to say we can "feel" the history and the reality of such a different life and such a different world. Often the first person narration helps us to see the absolute bewilderment of Dana as she faces the reality of the past and struggles to come to terms with the very different reality. Consider, for example, the following quote:

There was a stocky middle-aged woman stirring a kettle that hung over the fire in the fireplace. The fireplace itself filled one whole wall. It was made of brick and abote it was a huge plank from which hung a few utensils. There were more utensils off to one side hanging from hooks on the wall. I stared at them and realised that i didn't know the proper names of any of them. Even things as commonplace as that. I was in a different world.

It is often the expression of Dana's ignorance that helps us feel the historical period that she has so abruptly entered. Dana's lack of ability to identify and understand what she sees only serves to reinforce this feeling as often she has to have other characters explain what is going on to her. Just a little after this quote, for example, whilst Dana is trying to swallow some corn mush, Luke tells her that they get better food later on after the whites have finished eating. Dana then comments: "Table scraps, I thought bitterly. Someone else's leftovers." However, what helps us to feel the historical period is her comment that she would eat them and be glad of them in spite of her bitterness. Being faced with the reality of slavery and having your 21st century values and principles are shown to be two very different things.

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