For proof that Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred reinforces a more positive social ideology, go to the start of the book. At the beginning, Dana has agency. The police give her the chance to speak and tell her side of the story. Her husband, Kevin, does not belong in jail. He is not the reason why her arm had to be amputated. Although the police are skeptical, Dana words free Kevin, as, later on in the prologue, he appears by her side.
The above dynamic plays into the effectiveness of a person and their ability to use their voice to change material conditions. Dana’s words alter Kevin’s conditions. At this moment, she has the power to change things.
In other moments, Dana comes across as helpless. Her constant trips back in time to when slavery was legal in the United States are proof of a somewhat negative social ideology. In other words, it’s proof that individuals and people don’t have much power. Dana can’t control when she leaves or where she goes. It’s out of her hands. There’s nothing she can do.
Kindred was published in 1979. While individualism has always been prevalent in America, the marketing of self-empowerment has, for many, become particularly strong in recent years. Reading Butler’s novel today, Dana’s relative lack of agency might be why some readers take issue with its overriding social ideology. Most of the story seems to, in some way, challenge present-day culture’s preoccupation with the idea that people are empowered and in control.