LTEN 178 Kindred Study Questions

For Tues, please be prepared to answer question 4. For Thurs. please prepare question 9.

1. What is the symbolic significance of Dana losing part of her arm?

2. What are the meanings of home in this novel?

3. Is Sarah a “mammy” figure (145)?  How does the novel ultimately portray her?

4. How do the concepts of history and memory function in Kindred?  What is the relationship between them? 

5. Compare and contrast family relationships in Kindred to one of the other texts we have read so far:  Enemies, Maus or Everything is Illuminated.

6. How does slavery affect human relationships in Kindred?  How does Butler portray the power relationships between her characters, including between Dana and Kevin?  Do you see any similarities to how relationships of family and friendship have been portrayed in the novels we have already read and discussed? 

7. Dana returns to Los Angeles on July 4, 1976.  What is the significance of this return date within the larger context of the novel?  

8. On pages 116-17 Dana reads books about slavery and about the holocaust.  What sorts of connections between these antebellum slavery and Nazi genocide are being made explicitly and implicitly here?  

9. Time travel is the fantastic element in the novel.   Time travel literally happens in the novel, but is also a metaphor?  If so, a metaphor for what?
 How does the depiction of time travel help Butler to reach toward the ineffable?  

10.  Octavia Butler once noted in an interview of Dana’s marriage to Kevin, “I gave her that husband to complicate her life” (in the essays 276).  What do you think she means by this?

11.  What is the significance of the novel’s conclusion?  (I’m thinking of symbolism here esp—but I don’t want to give away the ending).