The main character in the novel, Dana Franklin, discovers that she has the ability to travel back in time to the nineteenth century. Dana has mixed white and African American ancestry and, the first time she is thrown back into the past, it is to save the life of her white relative Rufus. The books makes many allusions to slavery as Dana's travelling to the South of the early nineteenth century enables her to discover the burden of slavery in her family life. Kindred can thus be read as a slave narrative, though the perspective is not that of a slave but of 1970s woman. The political climate of the 1970s also enters the novel. There are allusions to the tensions within African American movements themselves betwee those who looked for the whites' cooperation and Black Power militants who argued that whites could not be trusted.