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Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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KINDRED: FREE CHAPTER SUMMARIES

THE FIRE

Summary (Continued)

PART 6

When she awakens the next morning, Dana is clean and dressed in an old flannel nightgown. Beside her sits a canvas tote containing clothes, shoes, and a huge switchblade. It is tied to her with a length of cord. Kevin evidently wants her prepared if she disappears again. Kevinís first question concerns what a patroller is. Dana explains it and tells him she had been in Maryland, somewhere on the eastern shore. He thinks itís all getting crazier and crazier, but to Dana, it is becoming more and more real: she has the wounds to prove it and the information about her ancestors as well. He eventually comes to believe it because of the way he feels about her.

Kevin explains that he is taking measures to protect her and thatís when Dana knows he is now her anchor. He shows her how to use the switchblade, but wants her to prove that she would be willing to use it. She reaches for a ruler on the desk, and before he can react, runs it viciously across his abdomen as she would a knife. He frowns, because he wanted her to fight fair instead of the sudden cheap shot she gave him. However, she explains seriously that she will not ever be in any fair fights on the plantation. She also tells him that the people of Rufusí time know more about violence than any movie screenwriter of their day could.

Dana explains that she will need papers to prove sheís freeborn or she will be captured and sold to the highest bidder. They need to see a certificate of freedom in some history book in order to forge one for her. Unfortunately, itís going to mean a trip to the library, because none of their books shows one. They also discover that they have to have a way to write passes. Passes were written by owners to allow slaves to travel at night. This is why slaves were not allowed to learn how to read or write, so that they couldnít forge their own passes. Dana also pulls down the atlas and an encyclopedia from her bookshelves to try to figure out the terrain of the area in Maryland where the Weylin Plantation stands. She wants to be prepared to head north if she is forced to return to the past.


Kevin notes, however, that there may be another way to get Dana home, and that she might have more control over it than she thinks. He thinks fear makes her go from the past to the present. Dana sees it as more: Rufusí fear of death calls her to him and her own fear of death calls her home. That is why she fears that she canít survive the era, and if she is forced to return, she may die before she can get home. Kevin emphatically disagrees, telling her that she is no less than her ancestors are, and they survived the era. She has strength, endurance, and the will to survive. Besides, he needs her home with him, and she needs to come home to him.

Notes

This chapter especially emphasizes the motif of paradox. Paradox refers to something that may seem contradictory, but nevertheless may be true. Dana is actually several generations younger than Rufus, but she is called across time and place to protect him. Furthermore, he sees her as she is in the future and hears hers and Kevinís voices when he is in great need of her. In addition, each visit Dana makes is further into the future for the Weylin family, but still in her own past. Even the idea of time travel itself is a paradox, but without any warning, Dana and Kevin are forced to realize that it can happen.

Other aspects of this chapter that should be noted for their importance are the facts that Dana learns about where she goes in the past. She learns the time is 1815. She is on a plantation owned by a slave holder, she is in danger because she, too, is black and can be forced into slavery, she needs papers to prove she is freeborn and maps and other supplies to help her should she be forced back to the past, and she may have the solution to bring herself home - her fear of death.

 

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