Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis|
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KINDRED NOTES - BOOK SYNOPSIS - GUIDE
One day after Weylin is buried, Rufus decides to punish Dana for letting
his father die. He sends the current overseer, Evan Fowler, to get her
from the cookhouse. He has decided that she will work in the fields. She
decides not to resist, especially with Rufus standing there watching,
but she comes to regret her decision. She is given a sickle-like corn
knife and herded to the field. Fowler explains how to chop the rows of
corn, and Dana makes her first slash at the stalk. Fowler immediately
lashes her hard across the back for her attempt. He continues to hit her
in the breast and the back, and she realizes he’s worse than Weylin. Fowler
is an animal. He tells her again how to chop the corn stalks, and Dana
wonders if she should just allow him to kill her, so she can escape a
place where people punish you for helping them. Another slave woman tells
her slow down, and even take a lick or two from him, because if she works
beyond herself that day, he will expect it every day, and she’ll kill
herself. Fowler spends the whole day dogging her and her work, lashing
her whenever he thinks she’s not working up to the right level. Finally,
she can do no more and passes out, hoping in her last waking moment that
she’s going home again.
Unfortunately, when she awakens, she sees Rufus’ face rather than Kevin’s. She gets to her feet, refusing his help, while he tells her that it’s obvious that she’s no good in the fields. She turns and stares at him in such a hard way that Rufus warns her not to do anything stupid. She answers him sarcastically that she’s done so many stupid things, like saving his life time after time. He justifies his behavior by declaring that he’d saved her from Fowler who might have beaten her to death. She responds to this by turning her back on him and walking toward the door of his room. He screams in response that she must never walk away from him again or he’ll send her back to the fields for good. Dana returns and sits at the desk where she takes three of the Excedrin she had left there. Then, she sits quietly while he screams at her again to talk to him. Dana can only exclaim that she has saved him repeatedly, and that he knows she did not let his father die. Rufus finally admits that that he knows everything she is saying is true and that he sent her to the fields, because he felt like he had to make someone pay.
Rufus then tells Dana that he wants her to care for his mother, who has never recovered from childbirth. Dana resists, reminding him that his mother doesn’t like and insisting that she knows nothing about caring for women’s problems. Rufus says that she’s much easier to deal with now, because she takes laudanum. Dana knows that taking laudanum means being a drug addict, because it’s an opium extract. She suggests Alice, but Rufus absolutely refuses, because Margaret hates Alice more than she does Dana, and Alice is due to have a baby in a few months anyway. This is at least some good news for Dana, because this baby might be Hagar. Rufus then leaves the room, promising to try to think of someone else he would accept as his mother’s caregiver. He also tells her to take the rest of the day off and allows her to read a book. It is his way of saying he’s sorry. Dana just shakes her head. Rufus is always sorry.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Kindred".
. 09 May 2017