Kindred Spirits Summary
by Alice Walker

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Kindred Spirits Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Rosa and her sister Barbara are flying to Florida to visit their Aunt Lily’s household, in which their grandfather has recently died. Still traumatized by her recent divorce, Rosa wonders about her former husband’s character, the nature of their relationship, and how love and affection can be transformed or disappear. She and her husband are one of a series of sets of kindred spirits that emerge from the story.

Rosa wonders about the closeness that she and her husband shared despite the fact that he is white and she is black, how that intimacy and commonality changed over time, and how quickly she has been replaced by a new woman who is white and Jewish like her former husband—someone who can offer him a different kind of kindredship than she can. Still deeply pained by the dissolution of her marriage, Rosa believes that her trip to Florida is a kind of penance that must be paid to her family. When her grandfather passed away, she felt unable to face her family and chose not to attend his funeral, instead traveling on her own. Having returned from Cyprus and other travels, she has now recruited her older sister to go to Florida with her to make the process of facing her aunt less difficult.

At the Miami airport the sisters are met by Aunt Lily, who stands tall and dignified. She runs a foster home for a living, creating a home environment and pseudo-family for children separated from their biological kin. Rosa is struck when she sees Lily waiting in the airport that the older woman is what she herself may be like when she is older. She feels alienated from her relatives because her own sense of politics and history, which so much informs the way she sees the world and assigns value within it, is very different from their own. At the same time, she realizes that they share a common worldview based on lifelong experiences of institutionalized racism. Rosa recognizes yet another kindred spirit in her thoughts of her dead grandfather, whom she realizes had a temperament and habit of...

(The entire section is 533 words.)