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Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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Summary (Continued)


Dana asks Nigel about it the next day, but Nigel says that Rufus sent him on an errand. She asks both Nigel and Rufus how long it takes a letter to get to Boston. Nigel has no idea and Rufus claims he doesnít know either. It bothers Dana to hear Rufusí answer, because she thinks itís such a small thing for him to do in order not to lose her good will.

From that moment on, Alice becomes an important part of Danaís work. In spite of Danaís fears of infection, Aliceís body seems to be healing slowly, but cleanly. For a while, she calls Dana ďMamaĒ and crawls, like a child, into bed with Rufus for comfort. However, as she becomes more and more well, she stops the childish names and stays in her trundle bed on the floor. She also doesnít seem to remember Dana at first, but is content with the information Dana gives her. Rufus doesnít want Dana to tell Alice anything, so that maybe sheíll return only as far as that stage in her life when she trusted him. It has been good for him during her healing process, because she hasnít hated him.


Alice goes to the cookhouse for the first time on the day Carrie has her baby. She is functioning mentally at the of a twelve or thirteen year old girl. That morning, she tells Rufus that she wants to sleep in the attic with Dana, and surprisingly, he agrees. Aunt Sarah is forced to leave the cookhouse to tend to the birth, so Dana takes her place to make dinner for everyone. Alice sits at a table while Dana cooks and questions her as to what itís like to be a slave. Dana tells her she really doesnít know, because she was born free. Alice thinks Dana should run away rather than allow herself to be one, but she reassures the girl that Kevin will come for her. She wants to steer clear of a lot of the discussion of life on the Weylin Plantation, because once Alice remembers everything, she will hurt even more with Rufus doing much of the hurting. And Dana will have to watch and do nothing. However, Alice will not be put off and insists that Dana tell her whether nor not she is now a slave. When Dana answers yes, she then demands that the Dana tell her everything that she canít remember. Slowly, Alice comes to realize that she is a slave, because she committed the crime of helping a slave escape. That brings back the memory of the whips and the dogs and finally Isaac. She falls into a grief-stricken state, especially after she learns that Isaac has been sold into Mississippi. Somehow, Dana finishes dinner with Alice sobbing quietly on a bench, and her own mind swirling around the idea that now she is not only Rufusí caretaker, but Aliceís as well. Once the meal is over, Dana is satisfied with the certainty that Sarah has left in her that she could do the job. As for Alice, she turns her bitterness on Dana for not knowing enough to just let her die.


Carrie and Nigel have a little boy named Jude. Weylin gives Nigel a new dress for Carrie, a new blanket, and a new suit of clothes for himself. In the quarters, he shows his bitterness over the gifts since they just give Weylin one more slave for him to sell if he chooses. Weylin tells Rufus that he should have been the one to give Nigel the gifts, but that he wasted all his money on Alice, and now, heíll probably have to whip her sick again to get her to do what he wants.

Dana tells Rufus that she wants him to mail another letter to Kevin, because he should have received it by now and have written back. Rufus tells her just to be patient. Tom Weylin overhears their conversation and admonishes Rufus for allowing her to do it. Dana knows that if Kevin never comes for her, the Weylins have one more slave, having made no investment to get her. Dana waits until the next day to ask Rufus again about the letter when he surprises her by involving her in his plan to rape Alice again. He wants Dana to talk to her and convince her to accept his bed. Dana refuses to help him do what he would do anyway. So Rufus has to play dirty by indicating that he will sell Alice and take Dana as his woman. He even says that Kevin probably wonít come back, letter or no letter; nonetheless, Dana still refuses to help him with Alice. However, in the end, it is his insistence that he will beat Alice if she does not come to his bed willingly that makes Dana try to help him. Dana does not look forward to talking to Alice, because she has so many sudden switches in attitude toward Dana, one minute needing her friendship and the next excoriating her for acting white. However, Dana puts up with them, because she doesnít feel she can abandon her now. It is another paradox that she taken her through all the stages of healing and now she has to help Rufus tear open her wound again.

Dana finds Alice caring for three of the babies among the slaves. She is surprised that Alice has a dress for her, so she can look more like a woman when Kevin comes for her. However, her good feelings change when Dana tells her she has to go to Rufus or be whipped. Dana tries to help her make the right decision by speaking about the three choices that she has: go to Rufus as ordered, be whipped and then have him take her by force anyway, or run away again. She calms down a little and asks Dana what she should do. Dana tells her that she canít give her an answer, because itís Aliceís body, not hers. Alice just weeps that itís not her body at all, but Rufusí, because he has paid for it. She then argues back and forth over her choices, but in the end, Alice decides to go to Rufus, because she just canít run again. She just wishes she had the nerve to kill him.


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