Albert Einstein refers to time as an illusion of sorts. He argued
that it could vary for different
observers depending on their speed
through space. According to
him, time is a three-dimensional ground
that provides coordinates to a traveler.
Length, height and width show location
and the dimensions. Time also provides
the dimension of direction though conventionally, it only moves forward.
The concept of time travel is one that has sparked
debate with scientists, philosophers and other
theorists coming up with
their ideologies to it. Time travel is an act of moving amid different points in time. It has been
a very popular and divergent topic
for the past
decades among science fiction
proponents. There have even been movies,
novels and also
stories that have come up over time incorporating the concept of time travel.
Examples of famous movies franchised with the notion of time travel
are Star trek, Doctor who and
even back to the future. In most
of these thrillers, the humans use a time
machine of sorts that is like
a vehicle that enables them
to move from one time to the next. Either
from present to the future or the
past and back
(Nahin & Paul).
In her book “Kindred” Octavia E. Butler uses the concept of time travel to bring out a fiction story of slavery and slave trade. It has been an important and clear show of the notion of time travel. From the book, one can be able to deduct some of the accruing advantages of time travelling and also the problems or shortcomings that come with it.
Butler builds on the idea of time travel to uncover the impact of human bondage in the American society. She is in a witty way able to keep readers unaware of the intention of the time travel since she does not directly expose that the main character is a black woman that can time travel. Dana, a black woman that is in the present married to a white man Kevin is involuntarily transported back from 1976. She finds herself in a Maryland plantation in the early early-nineteenth-century. She arrives in that time just in time to rescue a drowning white boy called Rufus Weylin whose mother had been unable to save. Unfortunately, even after saving the boy and trying to do some resuscitation, the white mother immediately brands Dana as attempting to kill the kid. She traveled back to the present just when things were getting ugly on her. With time travel, it has a great advantage in that one can use the knowledge and skills gained in the future or present to make things better to the past (Rosenberg & Donna).
After the incident with Rufus, it is like Dana is now necessitated to protect Rufus regularly since she keeps going to the past when he needs her. His fate was to survive and unfortunately rape a slave girl called Alice who in turn gives birth to Hagar, Dana’s foremother. The book is more or less a fantasy time travel, not exactly a science fictional one since it does not involve a time machine of any sort, and there is very minimal recovery time. Dana is taken back in time by Rufus, who keeps on recalling her to save his life since he happens to be her ancestor. Though the book offers no explanations as to why exactly Dana and not everyone else. It is unique how not even the characters question why they are being subjected to the time travel and not like everyone else. Even when lying at the hospital they are sure that people will not understand or believe what they are saying, so they are silent about it. Butner also does not shed any light on the reasons as to why the couple started experiencing the time travelling instances. When the episodes of time travelling ends with the death of Rufus the couple just moves on with life (Butler).
The time travel can clearly bring out a picture of the differences between life in the past and life as it in the present (Thorne & Kip). The book has a scene where Dana confronts Rufus for selling a slave and Rufus assets his masterhood by hitting her. Dana was so irritated by the cat that she chose to slit her wrist so as to travel back to the present. The only way that she was coming home is if she was in a near death experience. She was, however, so much agitated by the acts of Rufus that she chose to inflict pain on herself just to be away from him. The slaves in the past however are obedient to the slave master and are not seen as being assertive or defiant seeming as is Dana from the present. She assets her woman authority though she faces the horrible experience of the slave trade era. Kevin, who is also a white man upon travelling back in time, he goes ahead to tray and set free the slaves instead of joining the masters in enslaving the black people. He has even married and respects a black woman, Dana in the present and is disgusted by his ancestors for treating the black people with so much indignity.
With time travel individuals can be able to trace back their history to appreciate where they are from (Mortimer). They can be able also to be able to uncover and relive memories of their lives that matter in their present lives. It can help people appreciate their current and anticipate their future. At what instance Dana and Kevin travel back in time together only to find Rufus writhing with pain due to a broken leg. Just next to him was Nigel a you8ng black boy who they send to ask for help. Upon enquiring who Kevin was, Dana informs him that it was her husband. Rufus is evidently angry and filled with rage. At that, it was a taboo for a white person to marry a black woman who is supposed to be a slave. They are necessitated to explain to him that they bare from the future and proves it by showing some coins that they had dated the future. That is the only way they can calm Rufus down, and he promises to keep their identity a secret. From there on when they travel to the past they would masquerade as master and slave to avoid a confrontation. Weylin comes to get Rufus and upon introducing himself, Kevin is invited to join him on his plantation. They witness the inhuman treatment that the slaves are subjected to, and Dana, pretending to be a slave to Kevin, was not spared. At a point, Weylin finds her reading, and he mercilessly whips her and, as a result, she travels back to the future without Kevin.
After the incident with the slave masters, Dana remembers the kind of resistance that they faced with Kevin when they fell in love. They met opposition from both of their families due to their racial variance. She recounts how she met Kevin while she was still working at a small job at an auto-parts warehouse. Due to their similar attributes like their shared love and passion for writing and also that they were both orphaned they got attracted to each other. When Kevin decides that they should get married, they face all sorts of resistance. Kevin’s sister was a major prejudice against the African-Americans while, on the other hand, Dana’s uncle could not bear the thought of a white man inheriting his [property. It is only the aunt to Dana that supports the marriage. Despite the disapproval, they go ahead and tie the knot. Dana later goes back in time only to find Rufus being beaten up by Isaac the husband to Alice after he attempted to rape. Dana intervenes and Isaac run away with Isaac. She begins nursing Rufus in the promise that he would deliver a letter to Kevin about her return to Maryland since she finds that she was away for five years, and Kevin had long left the place. Less than a week later Alice and Isaac caught on the run, are severely beaten. Isaac mutilated and sold off to traders from Mississippi. Rufus now asks Dana to convince Alice to be his concubine so that he would spare her.
Through time travelling, we can be able to see ourselves living through centuries and therefore it is a one of a kind chance to note the change and progress in our lives. We are also so much able to be able to be empathetic of the situations and also of the things that happened in the past (Mortimer). The firsthand experience of the way of living, a culture and also of systems can enable one not to judge a particular age of people. It is easier to be able to get the circumstances surrounding making of individual decisions and also can get the events that led individuals to act in certain ways. Dana was able to experience the kind of cruelty subjected to her fellow colored people. With the experience, she is in a position to understand why they were left behind in other aspects years after the decline of the human slave trade. If at all also she felt any form of judgmental feeling to the women for not being assertive and also not being considered as part of change, she experienced the violence and level of demeaning that they experienced and so could understand. She even ends up acting like one of those bitter and angry women when she stops the time travel by killing Rufus the same person she so much set out to protect and saved him more than once.
Many times we are tempted to believe that living at the moment I all that matters to a person. The assumption that by judging the past as archaic, unruly or even as in dignified is the best form of establishing the superiority of the present and thus we are better or brighter than our ancestors is ill informed. If we however, hold the premise that we are successors of a living, effervescent past, and that the understanding of the history is vital to the understanding we hold in the present and also precede our future then that is the most powerful way to experience time travelling. It is a tool to use to be able to experience life from the past, present and the future and also it shapes our thinking and understanding of things (Mortimer 292). It is the only way to become generative since we learn from the mistakes made in the past. For the couple that travelled to the past could not engage in some of the mistakes that their ancestors made. However, they got to appreciate the events that occurred all their lives. For Dana, for example, she got to understand why it took having such a ruthless ancestor as Rufus and why he had to remain alive to cause all the havoc in the people’s; lives. She appreciates his being around since thanks to his acts her lineage came into existence, and thus she owes her existence to Rufus regardless of the fact that he was ruthless.
Time travel whether to the future or to the past remains an unsubstantiated theory (Nahin & Paul). It continues the concept of moving between varying points in space using a theoretical and also fiction framework or mechanism. It, however inspires a lot of literature with authors exploring the possibilities and manipulating the fantastic speculative device to advance their ideas and also to pass messages in a way that is entertaining and clear to understand. Octavia Butler was not left behind and clearly studied the field to write a masterpiece that apparently cautioned and brought out the intensity of slavery in America. It was of sheer clarity and at the same time sensitive to the ideologies of others across the board.