Study Guide

Kindred Chapter 1: The River

By Octavia Estelle Butler

Chapter 1: The River

  • The narrator takes us to the day of her twenty-sixth birthday, where she and her husband Kevin have just moved into a new house.
  • When the narrator (named Dana) and Kevin take a break from packing, Dana suddenly feels dizzy and falls down. Everything around her goes blurry, then vanishes.
  • Dana wakes up somewhere outdoors beneath a bunch of trees. She looks toward a nearby river and sees a red-haired child drowning in it. She runs to the kid and pulls him onto the shore, but it looks like he's already stopped breathing.
  • When Dana reaches the shore, a woman (the kid's mother) shows up and tears the child (named Rufus) from her and screams that Dana has killed him. Dana quickly responds by taking the kid back and giving him mouth to mouth. But the mother doesn't seem to understand what Dana is doing. She showers Dana with punches while Dana tries to save the boy, and despite her meddling, Dana manages to bring the kid around.
  • The next thing you know, Dana can hear a man's voice. She spins around and sees a man pointing a shotgun in her face. Then everything goes blurry again and she wakes up back in the present day with her husband Kevin standing over her and asking what the heck happened.
  • Dana doesn't know, but she knows that whatever it was it almost killed her. Kevin thinks she just had a hallucination, even though he saw her disappear from the living room with his own eyes.