Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: Online Notes

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KINDRED: FREE ANALYSIS / LITERATURE NOTES

THE FALL

Summary

PART 1

This part begins with Dana presenting the reader information through flashback. She explains first how she and Kevin met when she was working out of a casual labor agency. It was a difficult job, because she had to report each day to the agency until the dispatcher sent her out on a job. She only earned minimum wage, and it was often mindless work. However, it allowed her then to pursue her love of writing in the hours she could spare from these jobs. Sometimes, she relied on No Doz to keep her awake enough that she could write. That was the first thing Kevin noticed about her - she looked like a zombie from lack of sleep. He was one of the regular employees at an auto-parts store where she was hired part-time to do inventory. Kevin discovered from one of the other inventory workers that she was a writer. This intrigued him, because he had just sold a book himself. He invited her to have her lunch with him and even bought her food when he realized she had no money and was too proud to ask to borrow any. They exchanged information about themselves and over the week that she worked there, they forged a bond that eventually led to marriage. Of course, it was not without pain: neither one had a family that would accept the other because of their skin color. Nonetheless, they began a life together, and now must face the shared burden of Dana’s call to the past.

PART 2

Dana decides not to go to the library with Kevin to research the freeborn papers, because she doesn’t want to be in the car should Rufus call her back. As a result, she begins to double check the tote Kevin has put together in order to make sure she has what would be needed for a long period of time. Kevin comes into the bedroom to tell her he is leaving just as she begins to feel the familiar sensations of time travel. He immediately reaches to hold her, and no matter that she screams at him to let her go, he does not. As a result, when she comes to, she and Kevin are both lying sprawled on the ground with the tote in between them. Kevin’s first words are, “It happened! It’s real!” For Dana, his words are comforting, because now he really knows the truth. However, she wishes he weren’t with her, because she doesn’t want the horror of this place to touch him.

Dana looks around for Rufus, knowing he must be lying hurt or is in trouble somewhere nearby. She and Kevin find him on the ground curled into a small knot. He has fallen from a tree and broken his leg. He is with a small black child named Nigel, whom Rufus fears will be punished for allowing Rufus to get hurt. Dana knows the only way to help Rufus is to send Nigel for a wagon, but he will only leave when Rufus orders him to go. While they wait for the wagon, Rufus learns that Kevin is Dana’s husband, which prompts him to declare that “niggers can’t marry white people.” This is yet another opportunity for Dana to teach him about the use of words like that. She uses the comparison of how Rufus might feel if he were called white trash. It confuses him at the same time it makes him think. She summarizes by saying that where she comes from it’s vulgar and insulting for whites to call blacks niggers, and that also where she comes from, whites and blacks can marry. That prompts Rufus to ask where she comes from. Even though Kevin thinks there’s no point in him knowing, Dana decides to explain her origins to the little boy, because they are liable to have a long association with each other. She tells him that he’s likely not to understand, because she and Kevin don’t understand how they are there. Nonetheless, she explains that they are from California in the year in 1976, and that somehow when he needs her, he can call her back to 1819. He has a terrible time absorbing what she has said. It seems like sheer insanity to him. They finally convince him of the truth by showing him coins from their own time, and he acquiesces by saying, “I believe you. I don’t understand, like Dana said, but I guess I believe.” Dana also warns him not to tell anyone else about where she comes from after he admits that he told Nigel. Rufus agrees, because he knows no one would believe him anyway. Then, she tells Kevin to stay close to her, because she fears the only way he has to get home is by holding on to her.

 

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Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: Free BookNotes Summary

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