In what ways does the title Kindred encapsulate the relationships within the novel?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us remember that the central premise that gives the title its significance in this incredible novel is the way that Dana is forced back into the past by the genealogical link that necessitates her trying to keep the oppressive slave master alive until he has had time to procreate Dana's own ancestor. Dana then literally goes back to spend time with people that are of her family and are kindred to her. This sense of kindred is of course incredibly vital when Dana is left in the uncomfortable position of having to counsel Alice to give in to her master's sexual advances so that she can avoid another beating and also to ensure her own future birth and survival. Dana is forced through her kinship with Alice to experience the ethical realities of slavery which stand in sharp contrast with her ethics as a modern woman. Consider the following quote that explores this sense of dislocation that Dana experiences as she feels a kinship to a very different time that force her to look upon the world in a very different way:

You might be able to go through this whole experience as an observer... I can understand that because most of the time, I'm still an observer. It's protection. It's nineteen seventy-six shielding and cushioning eighteen nineteen for me. But now and then... I can't maintain the distance. I'm drawn all the way into eighteen nineteen and I don't know what to do.

The title therefore goes far beyond the simple blood relationship between Dana and her ancestors and clearly suggests Dana's experience of feeling kinship with her relations forces her to confront the realities of slavery.


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