Home and Dwelling: Re-Examining Race and Identity Through Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout


  • Scott Astrada College of the Holy Cross




The question of how to exist, to dwell, within one’s physical and psychological home has become an urgent one in an increasingly globalized world. Yet the answer to this question has never been more fleeting. Lacking universal political or sociological narratives in what can be oversimplified as a post-colonial or post-modern milieu, reformulating the question of how one dwells within one’s home has become both relevant and essential. This essay explores a return to the question of how one dwells, not in pursuit of a theoretical harmonizing answer, but to reevaluate how the question is generally framed—a return to the foundation of how one exists, or more precisely, how a one exists. Through Martin Heidegger’s essay on dwelling and Michel Foucault’s understanding of history as power, my reading of two works of modern fiction captures the struggles of subjects attempting to define their place in the world. Examining how the protagonists of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Paul Beatty’s The Selloutdwell within their homes provides much insight into how race, identity, and history impact dwelling in a global age.