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Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: Free Plot Summary / Study Notes

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Summary (Continued)


Rufus’ father arrives with the wagon, disgusted that Rufus’ fall is going to cost him money. The slave who drives the wagon momentarily shows his own disgust at Mr. Weylin’s comments, but hides it behind the man’s back. Then, this slave gently lifts Rufus into the wagon while Rufus calls for Dana to stay with him. However, it’s obvious that neither Kevin nor Dana are invited. That doesn’t speak well for Weylin’s hospitality in a country where it was commonplace to invite strangers into your home when they had no other accommodations. Dana realizes that the man is looking at her hard, and she wonders if he sees her resemblance to Alice’s mother. Finally, he invites them to dinner. Then, he demands to know her name and her home. Dana explains that she’s from New York, but her answers bring an ugly look and she wonders what could possibly be wrong. Fortunately, Weylin ignores them for the rest of the trip to his home.

Once they arrive, Dana is surprised that the home is not a stereotypical Southern mansion like Tara in Gone With the Wind. Rather, it is a red-brick Georgian and no more expensive to own than one she and Kevin could afford. Weylin first orders the large man - Luke - to take Dana to the back with the other slaves for her dinner, but she steps in to offer to stay with Rufus since he relies on her so much. Weylin agrees, and then he takes Rufus roughly up to his room. As she steps forward to follow, Luke whispers, “You watch out.” He explains that Tom Weylin can be mighty mean, mighty quick, and so can Rufus now that he is growing up. Her face makes him aware that she has had enough of white people’s meanness. It’s at that moment that Dana becomes aware that Luke is Nigel’s father and that makes her think that just as Nigel follows his father’s gentleness, so is Rufus taking after Weylin’s violence. It creates another paradox - she is a black woman protecting a boy who has been raised to consider blacks as subhuman, and she is a woman who watches over a boy who will grow up to believe women are perennial children. She knows that as she holds on to the friendship she is developing with him, she must take every opportunity to plant ideas in his mind that not only help her, but also the slaves he would own in the years to come.

Once she enters Rufus’ room, Dana must also deal with his mother, who only has one reaction when Rufus is in trouble - the wrong one. Weylin explains that Dana belongs to Mr. Kevin Franklin. Nonetheless, Rufus’ mother says she’s seen her before, a comment that brings concern to Dana for her own safety. Rufus, however, manages to turn her attention to him and diffuse the situation. Dana rushes for water for Rufus and comforts him when he expresses fear of the doctor’s techniques. She does everything expected of her, but still realizes that the Weylin’s do not like her, not just because she’s black, but for some other reason as well. She hopes that Kevin can find out what it is. Then, Mrs. Weylin sends her to the cookhouse. Not knowing where it is, Dana stops another black woman in the halls of the house and asks for directions. She soon comes to realize that the woman is mute, but she can hear. The woman is curious about her clothes, but Dana explains that her “master” will buy her a dress later. Then, the young woman leads her to a little white cottage not far from the main house. A stocky, middle-aged woman is cooking in there over an open fire. Dana doesn’t recognize any of the utensils she uses and is struck by how different this world is from anything she has ever seen. Dana soon comes to know the mute woman as Carrie and the cook as Sarah. Sarah quietly calls Mrs. Weylin by the title of “Bitch” which makes Luke caution her to be careful what she says. Sarah then refers to the woman as Miss Margaret and quietly offers Dana a bowl of corn meal mush.

Dana is unable to eat the mush, which looks and tastes disgusting to her. Luke tells her that they’ll get better food later after the scraps from the white table are brought to the cookhouse. This makes Dana very sad and also very worried, because the food is often covered with flies. She knows that because of this problem, disease is rampant during this time, and she has to be concerned for her own and Kevin’s safety. The slaves in the cookhouse are very curious about her dress and the way she talks. They think she acts too much like white folks. Dana tries to explain her behavior by telling them her mother was a freeborn teacher, and she had taught her the proper way to speak. Luke responds by warning her that Master Tom doesn’t like slaves who are too educated and come from a free state, because he doesn’t want slaves who know more than him to put ideas into the heads of his other slaves. The conversation ends with a private discussion with Nigel. He wants to know how Rufus can see Dana before she arrives. She answers that she doesn’t know, but she wishes to heaven he couldn’t.


When no one notices, Carrie, the mute slave, slips Dana some ham on some bread. Dana fears the ham hasn’t been cooked well enough, but the realization that she may be here for awhile makes her take the chance on it. Then, they hear screaming and know that the doctor has arrived to reset Rufus’ leg. Carrie is obviously bothered by his screams, so Sarah explains that Carrie always liked Rufus, who had protected her when the other children bothered her. Sarah also tells her that Carrie is her daughter, her fourth child, and the only one Weylin allowed her to keep. Carrie would have been sold, too, but she was believed to be defective because of her muteness. Dana knows that Weylin is lucky to be alive after selling Sarah’s children, and that if he were to sell Carrie, Sarah would probably kill him.

Kevin arrives and calls Dana to him to talk. They find a huge oak tree and they sit together. Kevin makes an ironic comment that there are so many more fascinating times they could have gone back to visit. Dana laughs, but without much humor. She fears for Kevin, because she knows that if they are separated and she goes home, he will be stranded there, perhaps for years. That worries her, but not as much as the thought that the violence of this world might rub off on him. Kevin goes on to explain that he made up a story about why they were in Maryland and why they were broke. He then offered Kevin a job as Rufus’ tutor. Kevin tells her also that since she is his “slave,” she will not be made to work. However, Dana knows that Weylin will find work for her to do. Besides, she wants work, because she needs to make a place for herself there and find friends, because Kevin might not be with her the next time she’s forced into the past. Kevin, however, hates the thought of her being forced to work, even though Dana has accepted it. Then, he tells her the lies he told Weylin: he is a writer from New York, and he’s traveling through the South doing research for a book. He has no money, because he was robbed when he drank with the wrong people. He says that he told the man that he bought Dana before he was robbed, because she could read and write. He felt she could help him in his research.

They then figure out why Weylin had been so mistrustful. He doesn’t like educated blacks, because he is so uneducated himself. He had warned Kevin that it was dangerous to keep an educated slave and that he should sell Dana to a trader heading for Georgia or Louisiana, before she ran away. Kevin had told him then that he planned to sell her in Louisiana at the end of his journey, and that Dana wasn’t likely to run away from him, because he had promised to free her when they returned to New York. All of that seemed to please Weylin, because Kevin had made himself seem as disgusting as Weylin himself. Kevin says that he had been trying to appeal to the humanity in Weylin with his lies, but Dana says the only humanity he will show is respect for Dana as Kevin’s private property. Kevin insists that he will do all he can to keep her from coming back here. Dana replies that they need to take out some insurance: they need to do everything they can to keep Rufus frButler Butler ing up to act like his father.


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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Kindred". . 09 May 2017