In Octavia Butler's novel Kindred, what does Sarah teach Dana about becoming a woman? Be specific. How do her advices/lessons conform to or resist the role of African American women under slavery?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Kindred, Sarah is a slave in the house. When Dana first meets her, she sees her as the "mammy" type, but soon discovers she is far more than that.

Sarah teaches Dana how to cook. She also gives her advice about living on the plantation. Sarah ultimately shows Dana, why so many of the slaves didn't try to fight back. Dana learns that all of Sarah's children have been sold and only her daughter, Carrie, is still there because she can't speak. Sarah also teaches Dana that most of the slaves stayed because they were afraid of losing their families. This fear ended up making the slaves passive and accepting of the lives they had to live. 

Sarah's advice and the lessons she teaches Dana, tell us a lot about the role of African American women who were under slavery. Most people saw the slaves as just letting the bad treatment happen to them. However the slaves were faced with horrible choices. They could risk their lives and try to run away, but at what cost? The lived in total fear of something happening to their families, especially their children. They learned to accept their fate, in return for having their families safe. They also lived in fear, knowing that at any time, their families could be sold or killed. If they behaved the way it was expected for them to behave, then they had a better chance of keeping their families safe.