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Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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Summary (Continued)


For the next three days, Dana doesn’t see Rufus, and nothing happens to bring on the dizziness which could send her home. Her work consists of helping Sarah in the cookhouse and keeping Kevin’s room clean. She herself washes in Kevin’s room where she can find the only privacy available, but she continues to have bad experiences with Margaret Weylin who even throws coffee on her one day. Kevin’s room then becomes a refuge.

When Dana and Kevin talk about Margaret, Dana shrugs it off as the woman just resenting her, because Rufus likes her. Kevin wants to leave there immediately and move on until she takes them back to 1976, but Dana feels their best chance is to stay on the Weylin Plantation, because Rufus will probably be nearly grown when she comes again. Kevin says she’s gambling with history, but knows once she’s made up her mind, he won’t be able to change it. His other concern is her sleeping accommodations in the attic on a rag pallet. She tells him it’s no different than the other house slaves and better than the field slaves. However, Kevin insists that he wants her near him. He also wants to test his theory that fear would send her home. That is, he wants to place her in a dangerous situation that she will never know is coming. Dana convinces him to wait until Rufus’ leg is healed. Kevin agrees, but still insists that she move into his room at once. She is in total agreement with this suggestion, given that she needs him near if the nausea and dizziness happen again.

Dana is concerned that the strict moral code of the day might place them in a compromising situation should she sleep with him, especially from Margaret Weylin. Kevin reassures her about this, because Margaret has been chasing him. That makes her decide to move in immediately! He laughs at her emphasis, because there are many slave children who look very much like they belong to Tom Weylin. Margaret has had a lot of practice looking the other way, and so she might be forced to do the same when it comes to Dana and Kevin. They still remain open to the idea of leaving, however, no matter what Dana’s concerns might be.

Dana goes in to Rufus’ room and sees him tied up in a rather crude form of traction. He tells Dana that he knows that she is working in the cookhouse with Sarah. He has asked her to come to his room so she can read to him. He has had the novel Robinson Crusoe brought up from the library, and so Dana sits down and reads aloud. He likes how she brings the book alive and tells her that the books all belonged to Miss Hannah, Tom Weylin’s first wife. Rufus obviously likes books, but he believes he’s too stupid to learn. Dana mocks him by saying he doesn’t have to learn. He can just stay the way he is, and all the other boys in his class will grow up to be smarter and more successful. She makes him read a few lines, and when he complains that he can’t tell it’s the same book when he reads it, she demands that he allow Kevin to help him. Kevin doesn’t believe he’s stupid.

Dana then questions Rufus about Alice. She learns that Alice’s father was sold to a trader headed for Georgia, but she and her mother are still living in the cabin in the woods. However, he doesn’t know what had happened to Dana there when she vanished the last time. It is a relief for Dana that Alice has kept her mouth shut. When Dana gets up to leave Rufus, he admits that he told his mother Dana was the woman at the river. Margaret told Rufus that it wasn’t true, but Rufus thinks she really believes it. He also admits that he does not want her to ever leave, but that he does not want her to be hurt either.

As Dana leaves the room, she meets up with Tom Weylin who has obviously been eaves-dropping. He questions her about reading to Rufus and asks her about her age and the year she was born. She is ready for his questions, knowing all along that she could be tripped up by white people in 1819. He also wonders why she has never had any children, and yet she is 26 years old. Then, he surprises her by offering the teaching position to her. She realizes though that he wants to buy her, and in order for her to teach Rufus, she would have to be one of his own slaves. Dana’s only comment is that such a decision would be up to Mr. Franklin, not to her. He tells her as he walks away that she will live to regret any decision to stay with Kevin.


As the days pass, Dana gets into the habit of being extra careful after Mr. Weylin’s comment. She plays the role of a slave to the hilt, minding her manners out of fear as to what she might be able to get away with. One day, she, along with the rest of the slaves, is called over to the slave cabins to witness Tom Weylin whipping a field hand for talking back to him. It makes her aware that she may be walking a thin line to the whipping post herself. Nonetheless, she moves into Kevin’s room and makes sure she has jobs that involve moving in and out of that room frequently. It is her way to keep a little of 1976 with her.

Several days later, however, Margaret Weylin discovers another reason to dislike Dana. She corners Dana in the library and asks where she had slept the night before. After Dana admits that she had slept in Kevin’s room, the woman viciously slaps her and calls her a filthy black whore. She also threatens to have her removed to the quarters, because she will not have her in her house. It occurs to Dana that Margaret is just a little afraid of her. Fortunately, the woman makes no move against her. She just continues to make daily life miserable for any of the slaves who come into her presence. This fact does not help her fear of Tom Weylin, who she analyzes as a man who understands his “duties” as the master of a plantation. He would whip her if he thought she needed it.

Dana walks into the cookhouse and listens to Sarah and Carrie speak, trying to fight her way through their accents and learn something about the lives they lived. They are preparing her to survive, even though they don’t know it. Sarah also speaks up for Dana to the other slaves and warns the younger woman to be careful not to make her out a liar. She admits as well that she hates Margaret Weylin so much, because it was the white woman’s idea to sell her children so she could have items that are more decorative for her home. She has spoken up in favor of Dana to Tom Weylin as well. She knows that Weylin wants to buy Dana and that Miss Margaret doesn’t want her there. She tells Dana that she needs to move back into the attic, because of Margaret’s hatred of her. Her final suggestion is that Dana should get Franklin to free her now, while she’s still young and pretty.


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