Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
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Guiding questions for student reading:
1. What is the relevance of family structure to our relationships?
2. What is the effect of the role of consumerism and capitalism on society?
3. How is the preservation/evolution of cultural values displayed?
4. What are the effects of tolerance and indifference on individuals?
What can you expect in your English class at the beginning of the school year?
Students, please use these questions as a guide for your annotation of the summer reading.
Your teachers encourage the practice of annotation in all your assigned reading at Stevenson, as a way to prepare for classroom activities and assessments and to reinforce the habit of active reading.
Why summer reading?
Kindred utilizes the devices of science fiction in order to answer the question "how could anybody be a slave?" A woman from the twentieth century, Dana is repeatedly brought back in time by her slave-owning ancestor Rufus when his life is endangered. She chooses to save him, knowing that because of her actions a free-born black woman will eventually become his slave and her own grandmother. As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, "See how easily slaves are made?" For Dana, choosing to preserve an institution, to save a life, and to nurture victimization, is to choose to survive.
Students who choose this book will experience the complications that arise from the intersection of intolerance and family, while reflecting upon the influence of history upon the present day. Since this book partially takes place in the Antebellum period of history, the reader will encounter depictions of violence against slaves, sexual abuse, and intolerance. Students will see how these difficult moments in the novel are used to express the means in which our history often has a way of influencing our present view of the world.
What is the purpose of the summer reading assignment?
Students will have a choice of five books, increasing their educational autonomy and providing the opportunity to find and read books that are appealing to their interests. While all the books are at appropriate reading levels for entering junior accelerated students, each student should be able to find one that meets his/her specific reading needs. The selection of texts offers a thematic focus of the American Experience to provoke self-generated inquiry at the beginning of the year. As students read the novels, they should pay attention to the overall thematic focus of the American Experience.
This novel and the other options for Junior Accelerated students reflect a strong narrative voice, an artful use of rhetorical strategies, as well as stylistic choices, imagery, and consistent character development. Therefore, any of these four novels will provide students with a strong model for their writing and a sound beginning point for their studies in Junior Accelerated English.
After having read the novel and returned to school, the students can expect a short answer, diagnostic writing assignment on the second day of instruction in which they will be asked to respond to a quotation that highlights a view of the American Experience. This response will set a benchmark and aid in guiding the writing instruction throughout the year. Students can expect to engage in a similar experience near the end of first semester. This assignment will inform students/teachers to the growth in written expression displayed by the Junior Accelerated English student.