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Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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KINDRED BOOKNOTES

THE FIGHT

Summary (Continued)

PART 12

So, Alice goes to Rufus. She adjusts, becomes a quieter, more subdued person. She doesn’t kill him, but she herself seems to die a little. One morning, she even comes downstairs with her face swollen and bruised. That is the morning that Dana knows she should stop wondering whether to ask Rufus to help her go North to find Kevin. He has not done anything so far to help her, and he continues to control her by threatening others. Furthermore, leaving on her own seems out of the realm of possibility, given what she has seen with Isaac and Alice.

One morning, Alice comes to Dana who is helping Tess with the wash. She hands Dana what she found in Rufus’ bed chest - the two letters she had asked him to mail to Kevin. That night, she leaves the plantation, dressed as a boy. Unfortunately, Rufus and his father find her, and Tom Weylin viciously kicks her in the face. Rufus screams out at his father that he didn’t have to do that, but Dana hears nothing more as she falls unconscious.

PART 13

When Dana awakens, she is tied hand and foot and is thrown over Rufus’ horse. Eventually, he stops and unties her, and then they ride back to the plantation with her sitting in front of Rufus. Tom Weylin’s only comment is, “See there. Educated nigger don’t mean smart nigger, do it?” Once they return, Rufus tells Dana that she’s going to get the cowhide. She is tied by her hands over her head and beaten until she swings back and forth from the force of the blows. She begs for the nausea to come that will send her home again, but she knows now that slaves survive this kind of beating, and because she knows she won’t die, the fear isn’t great enough to send her back. Rufus places Alice in charge of caring for the wounded Dana, but supervises her care to make sure all is clean like Dana had taught him. In Dana’s mind through it all is the question: why should she be beaten by a man whose life she has saved over and over. Furthermore, she is sick at the thought that sooner or later she might have to run again. She wonders if she has the courage now to do it,and her thoughts mock her with words like, See how easily slaves are made?

PART 14

Liza, the sewing woman, has fallen and hurt herself, but Tom Weylin doesn’t believe it. He tells her to name the person who hurt her, and that person will be punished. Liza, however, won’t say, insisting that she fell down the stairs. It turns out that she heard Dana get up to run away that night and went straight to Tom Weylin. Dana might have made it if not for Liza. The only reason she did it is based on her feelings for Alice. She hates Alice and since Dana saved Alice, Liza decided to get even that way. Alice says she’ll keep her mouth shut the next time, because the other slaves have let it be known what will happen if she opens it again.

PART 15

The first day Dana is able to get up, Rufus calls her to his room and hands her a letter from Kevin to Tom Weylin. It says that he’s on his way for Dana. Rufus explains that after he learned his son hadn’t sent Dana’s letters, Tom had decided to write to Kevin, because he’s a fair man. This leads to Dana attacking Rufus verbally for lying to her repeatedly. She just wants to know why. Rufus admits that he just wanted to keep her there and knew that Kevin hated the plantation. She recognizes that it is an example of Rufus’ destructive, single-minded love. She recognizes also that they must care about each other like a brother and sister, because if they ever hated each other, they would probably kill each other. The conversation ends with Dana asking him why his father had written to Kevin. Rufus tells her that his father did it, because Rufus had given his word. He is a man who cares as much about giving his word to a black man as he does to a white. Dana can only point out that it’s one of the few characteristics of his father that Rufus should copy.

 

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