Kindred was written at a time when several novels about slavery were published - Beloved, The Confessions Of Nat Turner, etc. why do you think Butler chose the time travel angle?

Why do you think Kindred opens with a flashforward?

Butler stressed that she wanted the depiction of slavery to be vivid and immediate, as if the reader were experiencing it. How well do you think she succeeded? How did having a modern black woman narrate the novel affect this for you?


The genesis of the novel was Butler's anger with her own mother - an African American widow raising a child in the 1950s - having to do menial work to make a living. At the time Butler felt resentment towards her mother for putting up with abuse from her employers, but as she grew older she realized that her mother had no choice. How is this reflected in Dana's changing attitudes towards the house slaves, in particular Sarah?

Dana's relationships with both Rufus and Alice are complicated. At various times she feels fear anger, revulsion, pity and even fondness towards Rufus. At the same time, her relationship with Alice is sometimes strained. How did this make you feel? How does the book's title reflect this?

Butler intentionally did not reveal the mechanism of time travel in the book. Would an explanation ruin the impact for you? Do you consider the force sending Dana back benevolent, malevolent, or neutral? Do you believe that Dana actually changes the past, or was everything predestined?

What do you think is the significance of ending the novel on the Bicentennial?

The modern world of the novel is now almost 40 years old. How do you feel race relations and attitudes about slavery have changed since then?

Please add your own comments or questions!