Throughout the novel Kindred, Butler compared and contrasted modern African Americans with African Americans that were slaves in the novel. Some of the many ways she compares them are through education, work ethic, and their personal feelings about and/or how they handle their own slavery.
Education is very important to the blacks that were enslaved in the novel. The slaves valued education even more than the modern African Americans like Dana who had always thought they had very high standards on education. The slaves valued education so much because to them it was not only a tool to better themselves, but also a very powerful tool that could potentially lead them to freedom. With the ability to read and write the slaves could write themselves passes and escape the world which had bound them for their entire lives. Although Dana’s generation thought education to be very important, they never had to depend on it for their own survival.
The work ethic of the slaves was much greater than that of Dana and the African Americans of the modern times. Although Dana had viewed herself as having a good work ethic, when she was put in the fields for only a short time she could not withstand the physical hardships which the slaves endured day after day. The slaves were not only more physically capable to complete the work but they were also more focused on completing their goal. You must remember that in Dana’s time money was always a strong motivation for any worker but in the slave’s time a whip could drive someone just as good. Ultimately the slaves were motivated to complete their work because they knew that their well being depended on it.
The slaves in the novel seemed to adapt much better to their own slavery than the modern blacks such as Dana did. Slavery was the only life many of the blacks had ever known so it was much easier for them to accept their future than it was for Dana to accept her sudden loss of rights. For Dana to come from a world where the possibilities of African American’s futures were so broad to suddenly lose all of her rights and be viewed as property was almost enough to cause Dana a mental breakdown. Although the slaves did not want theirs lives the way they were, they had somewhat grown accustomed to the idea of slavery and accepted it as their future. It is much easier not to teach a bird to fly than it is to teach one once and tell it can never fly again.
In the novel the African Americans of modern day were compared to the slaves of the time in education, work ethic, and their own views on slavery. Both groups had strengths in those fields and some found weaknesses. Both generations had two very important things in common; the unbreakable human spirit, and the unexplainable drive that pushed them to survive and get up just one more time than they had fallen down.