Study Guide

Kindred Stick

By Octavia Estelle Butler


You wouldn't think a stick would be the most effective weapon for a slave in the American South. But as Dana points out at one point, "I stumbled over a stick that lay in the road and first cursed it, then picked it up. It felt good in my hand, solid. A stick like this had saved me once. Now, it quenched a little of my fear, gave me confidence. I walked faster, moving into the woods alongside the road as soon as I passed Weylin's fields" (4.12.33). Let's not forget that Dana also uses a stick to knock out a white man who tries to rape her on her second trip back in time. In a world where everyone is trying to beat, kill, or rape her, Dana needs to use anything she can get her hands on to protect herself. The stick in this sense helps symbolize her resourcefulness and her ability to think quickly in crisis situations.

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