Kindred Essay - Suggested Essay Topics

Octavia Butler

Suggested Essay Topics

Prologue, The River, and The Fire
1. Dana is confronted almost immediately by the brutality of the exploitation of blacks by whites in the antebellum South. Explore how the legislation of the time allowed for this exploitation.

2. Why do you think that Octavia Butler chose to write a book about time travel to discuss the history of slavery in the United States?

The Fall
1. Examine the character of Margaret Weylin. How does Octavia Butler use her as an example of a woman of privilege living in the United States in the 1800s?

2. Based on what you have read thus far, examine how the laws of the antebellum South informs the sexual mores of the era.

The Fight
1. Throughout the novel, Octavia Butler includes flashbacks to the beginnings of Dana and Kevin’s marriage. Why are these details important? How does the experience of Dana and Kevin as an interracial couple in the 1970s, and the racism they face, compare with their experiences in the American South of the 1800s?

2. Examine the character of Rufus Weylin. Do you think he is a fundamentally good or a fundamentally bad person

The Storm
1. Compare and contrast Rufus Weylin to his father. In what ways has he become like his father? In what ways is he different? Are these differences for better or for worse?

2. Examine the character of Alice. How is she different in this chapter from the last? What brings about these changes?

The Rope
1. Why is the book titled Kindred? What is the significance of this title?

2. Rufus tells Dana that she and Alice are like two halves of the same woman. He says this at a significant point—at the novel’s climax. In light of the ancestral relationship between Alice and Dana, how is this comment metaphorically significant?