Kindred Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Kindred' by Octavia Estelle Butler is a novel about a woman who travels through time to save the most contemptible person in her family tree so that she will eventually be born. This lesson will guide classroom discussions about this book.


How would you feel if you found out that your lineage includes some loathsome characters? Students will contemplate their reaction to this dilemma as they read Kindred by Octavia Estelle Butler. This book tells the story of a black woman who travels back in time to keep her white, slave-owning ancestor alive to save her own life. These questions will help lead a class discussion about the novel.

Prologue and Chapters 1-2

The questions in this section will help students learn about 'The River' and 'The Fire.'

  • Who is the narrator of the story?
  • What happened to the narrator on her last trip?
  • Who is Kevin?
  • Compare what the narrator says happened to her arm to what the police and hospital personnel think has happened?
  • What happens on Dana's 26th birthday?
  • How does Rufus' mother react as Dana saves him from drowning?
  • What is the last thing Dana remembers before she wakes up?
  • What does Kevin see while Dana is saving Rufus?
  • What does Kevin conclude is happening?
  • What does Dana do to try to recover?
  • During her next dizzy spell, where does Dana find herself?
  • How does Dana recognize Rufus?
  • How does Dana save Rufus this time?
  • How does Rufus react to being scolded by Dana?
  • What does Rufus see just before Dana appears?
  • How does Dana realize she is time traveling?
  • What is Dana's relationship to Rufus?
  • Who is Alice?
  • What advice does Rufus give Dana?
  • What does Dana see when she arrives at Alice's home?
  • What does Dana do when the white man attacks her?
  • How does Kevin react when Dana explains what has happened?
  • How does Dana prepare for more time travel?
  • What circumstances bring Dana back to the present?

Chapters 3-4

The next set of questions will help students learn about 'The Fall' and 'The Fight.'

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