Authorial Voices In Octavia Butler's Kindred

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Authorial Voices in Octavia Butler’s Kindred Butler’s text not only address the concept of racial identity, but also tackles the concept of authorial control. Ashraf Rushdy notes that the Neo-Slave Narrative genre as a whole began to come about as a response to William Styron’s book Confessions of Nat Turner. This novel spark the conversation regarding who should be able to retell these histories, and Rushdy notes one of the most problem aspects of Styron’s novel: “its presumption of assuming the voice of a slave, its uninformed appropriation of African American culture, its deep, almost conservative allegiance to the traditional historiographical portrait of slavery” (4). Madhu Dubey also notes this problem stating that the genre “was preceded …show more content…
An example that Scarry gives of this is a person getting her teeth drilled. She states “It is commonplace that at the moment when a dentist’s drill hits and holds an exposed nerve, a person sees stars. What is meant by ‘seeing stars’ is that the contents of consciousness are, during those moments, obliterated, that the name of one’s child, the memory of a friend’s face, are all absent” (30). According to Scarry, “Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language, to the sounds and cries a human being makes before language is learned” (4). Therefore, when it comes time to articulate painful, traumatic memories, Scarry argues that in order to combat the fact that “pain comes unsharably into our midst as at once that which cannot be denied and that which cannot be confirmed” because physical pain cannot be shared that people “attempt to invent linguistic structures” (4, 6). However, this argument becomes complicated when discussing mass traumatic events such as slavery. Because the descendants of slaves did not directly endure the institution of slavery and do not have access to the site of trauma, articulating their pain becomes more problematic. While the descendants do not feel the physical pain that their ancestors experienced, former slaves were able to articulate their experiences either by passing down the knowledge verbally or by writing their own slave narratives. In addition to knowing these stories, slavery continued to leave as lasting mark on past generations as this trauma continued to spread. After slavery was abolished, black Americans continued to endure various injustices, including the enactment of Jim Crow laws. Finding the language to articulate this pain becomes important, especially as