Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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There are several other literary devices that pop up at various times in the story. One of the most prevalent ones is foreshadowing which frequently presents clues of something that will happen later in the novel. Some examples of foreshadowing include:

1. The narrator opens the novel with the revelation that on her last trip home, she lost her left arm as well as about a year of her life and much of the comfort and security she had not valued until she was gone. This prepares us for the agony she faces when forced into time travel by her ancestor, Rufus Weylin.

2. Dana refers to her time travel as “the day he calls her to him for the first time.” This is foreshadowing of the many times Rufus will call Dana to save him.

3. For setting the barn on fire, Rufus had received a severe beating, and he lifts his shirt and shows Dana the old welts and ugly scars. His fear of his father had made him subconsciously call Dana again. This foreshadows that Dana will be his “time slave” many more times.

4. Rufus notices that Dana looks a lot like Alice’s mother. This foreshadows his crazy belief that she and Alice are two sides of the same woman.

5. Beside Dana, when she returns home, sits a canvas tote containing clothes, shoes, and a huge switchblade. It is tied to her with a length of cord. This foreshadows how both she and Kevin will deal with any further calls from Rufus.

6. Dana also tells Kevin that the people of Rufus’ time know more about violence than any movie screenwriter of their day could. This foreshadows the violence that she will eventually have to experience.

7. On her second trip to the past, Rufus begs for Dana to stay with him. This foreshadows how obsessive he is becoming with her.

8. Tom Weylin questions where Dana is from, but her answers bring an ugly look and she wonders what could possibly be wrong. This foreshadows Weylin’s dislike of Dana, because she is an intelligent, well-spoken black woman.

9. Luke whispers to Dana, “You watch out.” He explains that Tom Weylin can turn mighty mean, mighty quick. This foreshadows the continuing problems between Tom and Dana.

10. Dana fears for Kevin, because she knows that if they are separated, and she goes home, he will be stranded there, perhaps for years. This foreshadows what will actually happen to Kevin.

11. The whole reading situation, while helping Rufus improve his own skills, creates even more tension between Dana and Margaret, who tries to draw Rufus’ attention from Dana to her. He then talks back to his mother like a miniature example of his father. It worries Dana and foreshadows what is to come in her determination to help Nigel learn to read.

12. Alice tells Dana that Kevin waited a long time for her to return and then left for the North. She says that Rufus knows where he went. She also cautions Dana to be careful of Rufus who can be very crazy sometimes. This foreshadows Rufus’ attempt to keep Dana from reuniting with Kevin.

13. Alice believes that, in spite of his good intentions in bringing the doctor, Rufus is responsible for the deaths of her children. Dana thinks to herself that Rufus himself was to teach her about that attitude. This foreshadows how he takes Alice’s last two children away to teach her a lesson for running away.

14. Rufus asks Dana if she wants to jump the broom. To which Dana asks what he would do if she did. He replies that he would sell the man she wanted to marry. This foreshadows what he will do to Sam Jones.


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