Study Guide

Kindred Slavery

By Octavia Estelle Butler


Whether people like to admit it or not, slavery is a huge part of American history that still has huge implications for today's world. It is almost impossible to look at today's incarceration rates or poverty rates for black people in America without thinking that these things are directly connected to America's history of slavery. Many modern Americans would like to wash their hands of this history and say, "Whatever, I'm not responsible for what happened back then." But this kind of denial is the sort of luxury that a kid born into a poor black neighborhood just doesn't have. The history of slavery still affects that person whether they like it or not, and it's this kind of lingering historical impact that Octavia Butler wants us to take a good hard look at in Kindred.

Questions About Slavery

  1. Do you think Dana puts up enough of a fight against slavery? Why or why not?
  2. How does Kevin react to the slave-owning culture when he gets stuck in the past? Is it a good reaction? Why?
  3. Why does Rufus want his slaves to think he's a good master? How does he balance (or fail to balance) this impulse with his desire to be obeyed?

Chew on This

In Kindred, we learn that slavery is just as much a state of mind as it is a power relationship.

Kindred reminds us that slavery hasn't really gone anywhere in American culture. It's just taken on a more invisible form.

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