Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis|
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KINDRED SYNOPSIS / STUDY GUIDE
Alice’s new baby is a girl. She and Rufus name her Hagar. It’s the most beautiful name Dana has ever heard. The names of Alice’s children are symbolic of the freedom Dana longs for as much as Alice does. So Dana is elated, but even though she now knows her family line is safe, there is still danger to her personally. She is still not free. Alice approaches Dana again, demanding that she get the laudanum. Dana tries to persuade her that she keep working on Rufus the way she has, and soon she will have whatever she wants. But Alice breaks down in tears, saying that he’ll never let any of them go. She warns Dana that she has to help her or she’ll see herself for the “white nigger” that she is.
Later, Dana asks Rufus if he means to free Joe. Rufus tells her that
he wants to send the boy to school up North. However, Alice doesn’t believe
Dana, because Rufus still refuses to put it all on paper. She tells Dana
that he uses the children just the way you use a bit on a horse, and she’s
tired of having a bit in her mouth.
Dana plans to stay on the plantation herself until Alice leaves just to find out whether she makes it. In the meantime, she talks Rufus into allowing her to teach Nigel’s two older sons as well as Joe. She is surprised how much the boys love to learn. Rufus’ neighbors warn him about educating his slaves. Even the Methodist minister is concerned that it will make them disobedient. Alice is waiting patiently, using discretion about her desire to run, and feeling guilty, because she is finally beginning to have some feeling for Rufus.
Dana is approached one day in the cookhouse by Sam Jones, the large black slave who had admired her at the parties. He doesn’t want to court her. He just wants her to teach his brother and sister. She can’t agree then and there and tells him not to approach her again. He asks her if she really wants to be with that “white man.” She vehemently replies that just like the slaves in the fields, she does what she has to in order to stay alive. So Sam leaves, completely innocent of doing anything wrong. Nonetheless, three days later, a trader leads him away in chains. Dana struggles with Rufus as the coffle is chained in the yard, trying to make him understand that Sam had done nothing wrong. One of his family members calls Dana a whore for not leaving her brother alone. She grabs Rufus by the hand to beg him to reconsider, but he just hits her. That is the breaking of the unspoken agreement between them, and he knows it. Nonetheless, Rufus orders her into the house. Dana deliberately disobeys and goes straight to the cookhouse. There, she heats water to a warm stage and takes a basin of it up to the attic. She washes her knife in antiseptic and in the warm water, she cuts her wrists.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Kindred".
. 09 May 2017