Study Guide for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Analysis Synopsis

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This chapter like the previous begins again with flashback as Dana explains that she and Kevin never really moved in together, because both of their apartments were too small. They just drifted back and forth between the two. Dana also continued to work for the agency, because it gave her a kind of independence that she didnít want to lose. About four months after theyíd met, Kevin asked her to marry him. He told her that if she did, she could type his manuscripts. That was an issue that had brought about the first major disagreement between them. Three times before he had asked her to type for him, but she did so only once, grudgingly, because she hated to type. She even wrote her own stories longhand until she had to create a manuscript for a publisher. She annoyed him when she refused the second time and totally angered him the third so that he ordered her to leave. The next day she went back and he believed she was agreeing to type the pages. Thatís when she refused again, but he didnít send her home. He loved her enough to accept her sense of independence and let her back in.

Dana wanted to marry him and accept his proposal immediately. However, she worried about the reactions of their families. They discussed it together, with Kevin insisting that his sister would love her at once and accept her, while she knew her aunt and uncle would never understand her wanting to marry a white man. It turned out that Dana was right while Kevin was wrong. The sister, whom he believed to be totally unprejudiced, declared she didnít want to meet Dana, and he wouldnít be allowed in her house again if he married her. Danaís aunt was more responsive to the idea, because the children would probably have light skin. However, her uncle took it as a personal insult to him. So they drove to Las Vegas and got married. They received only one wedding gift - a blender from her best friend - but they also got a check from the Atlantic Monthly. One of her stories had finally sold to a reputable magazine.


Dana awakes in her own bathroom in her own home. She is in terrible pain from the whipping, and Kevin is not with her. She soaks in a warm bath to get her torn blouse off her and thinks over and over what Kevinís fate might be. He may as well be dead, because he is lost in the past. Maybe only a few years will go by before she is called back. She also fears heíll go ahead with his idea about going to the West.

In the meantime, Dana knows she must prepare for the next call. She has to replace the tote that she failed to bring back with her. She finds an old denim gym bag and begins to fill it with as much as she can carry back with her. She feels disoriented, caught between Rufusí home and her own. She had spent nearly two months in 1819, but she has returned on the same day she left in 1976. Now she knows that she cannot leave the house in case Rufus calls her again, so she calls her cousin to buy her groceries. Ironically, her cousin believes that Kevin has beaten her, and she is very disappointed that Dana allowed it. So, Dana continues to wait, reading as many books as she can from her collection to try to understand the ante-bellum South. She even falls into Kevinís book about World War II and has to put it away when she begins to read about the tortures of Nazi Germany. It was as though the Germans had tried to do in a few years what Americans had worked at for two hundred.


Dana remains at home for eight days before the dizziness returns. She has time to grab her bag and awakens in the past less disoriented than before. She is in the woods either late in the day or early in the morning. She sees a young, black woman with her dress torn down the front, holding it together as she watches a black man and a red-haired white man fight. Obviously, to Dana, the white man is Rufus, and he is not winning the battle. The paradox sets in again as Dana realizes she must stop a man of her own race from killing a white man who no doubt had done something wrong to the black one. She fears that Rufus has grown up to be worse than she thought. However, just as the black man rears back to hit Rufus with a killing blow, Dana steps in to ask him what they will do to him and the woman if he kills a white man. It is enough to get the man to stand down, and then, Dana tells him how he can trust her not to talk. It turns out that his name is Isaac Jackson and that the woman is Alice and his wife, all grown up. She has also been slapped, no doubt by Rufus, and Dana feels sad, because she had hoped for better from him.

When Dana questions Alice about her friendship with the unconscious Rufus, she explains that he wanted to be more friendly than she did and had tried to get Judge Holman, Isaacís owner, to sell him south to keep her from marrying the man. Dana is surprised, because she had assumed him to be freeborn like his wife. She encourages him to run immediately. She explains to him that she will stay with Rufus and help him home as slowly as possible to give Isaac and Alice more time to get away. Before she walks away from Dana with Isaac, Alice tells her that Kevin waited a long time for her to return and then left for the North. She says that Rufus knows where he went. She also cautions Dana to be careful of Rufus who can be really crazy sometimes. She leaves Dana with too many questions and no answers.


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