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Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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KINDRED SUMMARY BOOK NOTES / STUDY GUIDE

THE FALL

Summary (Continued)

PART 7

Dana decides not to take Sarah’s advice and instead follows what Luke had said once to Nigel: don’t argue with white folks. Just say yes, sir and no sir, and then do what you want. You might have to take a whipping for it later, but if you want something badly enough, the whipping won’t matter. Luke has a few whipping scars on his back, but he still does what he pleases and holds the influential position of overseer in the fields.

As time passes, she and Kevin become more and more a part of the Weylin household. For Dana, the work can be hard, but is usually more boring than physically difficult. For Kevin, the hard part is having to put up with a steady stream of ignorant, pretentious guests who visit the house. They seem to be living remarkably easy lives, which makes Dana uneasy. Kevin mentions how the time period is now interesting to him, and he wonders what it might be like to go West to see if all the stories they have read are true. Dana replies bitterly that the West is where they did it to the Indians instead of the blacks. He looks at her strangely, and that makes Dana uneasy as well, because all along she has worried how the time period might rub off on Kevin.

One day, Tom Weylin surprises Dana reading while she dusts in the library. He orders her to put the book down and only pick it up when she’s reading to Rufus. Ironically, only hours later, Nigel asks her to teach him to read, an act that is expressly forbidden to slaves. In spite of Weylin’s order, she steals a book and begins to teach Nigel to read. With this act, Dana observes that she and Kevin fit into this time so easily, because they were observers watching a show, watching history happen around them. They were nothing more than actors. Margaret Weylin is still a problem as she is constantly sending someone to Dana with more and more jobs. Only Kevin’s ability to countermand some of these jobs gives her some time to rest and find time to tutor Nigel.

On one particular day when Dana and Kevin are meeting at the big oak tree, they notice several little slave children playing. Kevin just thinks they are playing some silly game, but Dana recognizes that the children are play-acting a slave auction. Dana is frustrated that even their playtime is preparing these unfortunate children for their future, a future which will come whether they understand it or not. They also observe that the farm seems to run itself, and Kevin admits that he’s surprised at the place, that it’s not what he imagined. There is no overseer but Luke, and the work is manageable. Dana retorts that the living conditions are terrible, and the slaves have no rights even to keep their own families together. She insists that you don’t have to beat people to treat them brutally. He admits that he is just looking at the time as an observer and that Dana should keep on teaching Nigel who may be able to teach others when Dana is gone. As for Dana, she has never realized how easily people can be trained to accept slavery.




PART 8

Dana’s teaching finally gets her into trouble as she returns from Rufus’ room to the cookhouse to teach Nigel. Tom Weylin has still forbidden Dana to read on her own time, but he uses her reading to Rufus to keep the boy in line. Furthermore, the whole reading situation, while helping Rufus improve his own skills, creates even more tension between Dana and Margaret who tries to draw Rufus’ attention from Dana to her. He then talks back to his mother like a miniature example of his father. It worries Dana and foreshadows what is to come in her determination to help Nigel learn to read.

When Dana arrives at the cookhouse, Nigel is teaching letters to Carrie. Carrie had refused to join the class, because Sarah feared it would make Weylin sell her. So seeing her learning is a surprise to Dana. However, when asked this time, Carrie nods a yes. Dana also warns Nigel about bringing the books out of hiding in the kitchen where anyone can walk in and catch them. She gives Nigel a test and he spells every word correctly; as she’s praising Nigel and feeling proud of his accomplishments, she carefully burns the test paper in the fireplace. Suddenly, the door opens again and Tom Weylin enters very unexpectedly. Now, Dana knows she’s in for a beating. Weylin is incensed that she has disobeyed him and declares that she has stolen his books after he had been so kind to her. He drags her out of the cookhouse as she calls out to Nigel to get Kevin. She never sees where the horsewhip comes from. She only feels it fall again and again until she can’t get up to escape it. Through her blurry eyesight and sweat, as she vomits again and again, she sees Kevin running toward her, trying desperately to reach her. It’s then she realizes that the nausea and dizziness is the result of more than the beating. She’s going back home, and Kevin must reach her to go, too. She passes out.

Notes

This chapter keeps Dana in the past for a longer time and this time, Kevin goes with her. The worrisome idea for Dana is that Kevin must be holding on to her in order to go home, too. Rufus has called Dana to him when he falls out of a tree and breaks his leg. The unnatural need Rufus feels for her begins on this second trip, and his clinging to her will bring her nothing but grief.

Even though Kevin feels they would be safer if they left, she makes him stay in order to make sure Rufus stays safe enough to father Dana’s ancestor. This will bring about the greatest grief of all: she returns to 1976 without Kevin who has no way home again until she is called back to get him.

Another important aspect of this chapter is the use of flashback. Dana explains how she met Kevin, how they fell in love, and why he comes to believe what happens to her with Rufus.

 

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