Kindred Literary Elements


Novel (Science Fiction/Historical Novel/Neo-Slave Narrative)

Setting and Context

Present/1976/California; Past/1815-1824/Maryland

Narrator and Point of View

First-person from the perspective of Dana.

Tone and Mood

Straightforward; blunt; honest; assertive; immediate.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Dana; Antagonists: Rufus and Tom Weylin

Major Conflict

Whether Dana will be able to continue to save her ancestor Rufus's life in order to secure the birth of her own grandmother and, by extension, herself.


When Dana returns to find Alice has hanged herself, Rufus tries to rape her and she kills him.


-Dana is worried about Kevin being affected by the 19th century, and he certainly is. He is grimmer, quieter, angrier, and more aware of the realities of the racialized past.
-The novel begins with a striking example of foreshadowing: Dana has lost an arm.




-Many allusions to American history–Compromise of 1820, President John Quincy Adams, Desmond Vesey's rebellion, Nat Turner's rebellion, abolitionism, Sojourner Truth, California becoming a state, etc.


See the separate Imagery section of this guide.


-Almost the entire premise of the novel is a paradox–that Dana is an ancestor of Rufus and Alice, and is sent back in time to ensure that she herself can be born. She has the ability to shape the events that brought her to life.
-"And it was all pointless. There was nothing I could do. I had no control over anything. Kevin might as well be dead. Abandoned in 1819, Kevin was dead. Decades dead, perhaps a century dead" (113).



Metonymy and Synecdoche



-"His environment had left its unlikeable marks on him..." (32)
-"I didn't want this place to touch him except through me" (59)
-"Pain had never been a friend to me before, but now it kept me still. It forced reality on me and kept me sane" (113)