Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

Previous Page | Table of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version




The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. The protagonist of Kindred is Dana Franklin, the young woman who is pulled into the past by her ancestor, Rufus Weylin. She is forced to learn to live as a slave and deal with Rufus’ obsessive behavior until such time as her ancestor and Rufus’ daughter, Hagar, is born.


The antagonist of a story is the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist does not always have to be a single character or even a character at all. The main antagonist in Kindred is Rufus Weylin who calls Dana from the future to save his life when he is just a little boy. His obsessive behavior over the years that follow make him a danger not just to his slaves, but also to Dana. She will only ever be free of his need for her once he is dead. The other antagonist is the system of slavery and the terrible impact it has on individuals, families, and life in the South prior to the Civil War.


The climax of a story is the major turning point that determines the outcome of the plot. It is the point to which the rising action leads. In Kindred, the climax occurs when Dana finally feels threatened enough by Rufus to kill him and free herself to return to 1976.


Also known as the resolution or denouement, this is the place in the plot where the action is resolved or clarified. Rufus dies at Dana’s hand and she returns to Kevin in 1976, with one terrible consequence: she leaves part of her arm, where he was holding onto her, behind in the past. When she is well, she and her husband fly from California to Baltimore, Maryland, to see if they can uncover what happened to all the people they had met while time traveling. They discover that Rufus was believed to have burned to death in a fire in his house, and that after his death, some of his slaves were sold off just as Carrie had feared. However, the fates of most of the people that Dana and Kevin knew is untraceable. The resolution is that they are left knowing that they are as sane as they can be in spite of their amazingly and normally unbelievable experiences.


Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is abruptly snatched from her home in California and transported to the ante-bellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, has summoned her across time to save him from drowning. After this first summons, she is drawn back, again and again, to protect Rufus and ensure he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor.

Each time she arrives in the past, Dana’s sojourns will become more and more dangerous because of Rufus’ obsessive need for her. The reader never knows whether she will survive one journey or the next. It’s only when she finally must save herself from rape by killing Rufus that she is finally freed from the pull of the past.


Previous Page | Table of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Free BookNotes Summary

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Kindred". . <% varLocale = SetLocale(2057) file = Request.ServerVariables("PATH_TRANSLATED") Set fs = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject") Set f = fs.GetFile(file) LastModified = f.datelastmodified response.write FormatDateTime(LastModified, 1) Set f = Nothing Set fs = Nothing %>