Study Guide

Kindred Education

By Octavia Estelle Butler


"[Weylin] was pretty sure you could read and write. That's one reason he seemed so suspicious and mistrustful. Educated slaves aren't popular around here." (3.4.84)

Dana learns that one of the main reason Tom and Margaret Weylin dislike her more than other slaves is because she can read and write. Educated slaves are unwanted because they might teach other slaves to yearn for something more than a life of slavery. And wherever you find dreamers, you'll find rebellion close behind.

"Weylin warned me that it was dangerous to keep a slave like you—educated, maybe kidnapped from a free state—as far north as this." (3.4.90)

Weylin warns Kevin that he's taking a huge risk by travelling with Dana so close to the free states. A smart woman like Dana could run away at any second and make it across the border into free territory. That's why Weylin advises Kevin to bring Dana farther south.

Also, I don't think Margaret likes educated slaves any better than her husband does. (3.5.7)

Margaret Weylin hates educated slaves because they threaten her as the lady of the house. As a woman living in 1815, Margaret probably doesn't have much education herself, and the thought of a black woman being smarter than her is more than she can handle.

In a more rational society, an ability to write would be of great help to her. But here, the only people who could read her writing would be those who might punish her for being able to write. (3.8.61)

The sad fact is that, even though reading and writing are great gifts, a black slave has little use for them. That's because the only people who can understand their writing will be the same people who'll punish them for writing in the first place.

"See there? […] Educated n—r don't mean smart n—r, do it?" (4.12.22)

Tom Weylin is quick to point out to Dana that there's a difference between being educated and being smart. Dana might have a map of the area, but if she were smart she would have known that it would take two men on horses no time at all to track her down.

"Who in hell ever said you were an educated n—r? You can't even tell a decent lie. Six years for me is six years for you!" (5.2.36)

Tom Weylin doesn't believe Dana when she says that time travels more slowly for her in 1976 than it does for Weylin in the 1800s. Weylin thinks that Dana must be stupid. In his mind, time travels at the same speed no matter where a person is. Let's not forget that Einstein's Theory of Relativity didn't come out until the twentieth century.

It was dangerous to educate slaves, they warned. Education made blacks dissatisfied with slavery. (5.13.5)

And here you have the main reason why white people don't want slaves being educated. All education seems to do is create slaves who are not happy about being slaves. Education offers them the ability to imagine a different world, and this usually leads to unrest.

"You talk like a damn book." (4.4.88)

Rufus doesn't like the way Dana talks because it sounds even "whiter" than the way most white people talk. In this case, education is something that's supposed to be for white people only.

I said goodbye to Rufus the day my teaching finally did get me into trouble. (3.8.1)

It's only a matter of time before Dana gets into trouble for teaching Nigel and Carrie how to read and write. Little does she know that a brutal whipping will be her punishment, since education is a huge no-no on the Weylin plantation.

Tom Weylin didn't want me reading on my own, but he had ordered me to read to his son. (3.8.2)

Tom Weylin doesn't like the fact that Dana can read. But now that he knows she can, he figures he might as well put her education at the service of his son Rufus. In this case, he's trying his best to turn a negative into a plus.