Study Guide

Kindred Slavery

By Octavia Estelle Butler


Patrollers made sure the slaves were where they were supposed to be at night, and they punished those who weren't. (2.6.7)

Dana's first encounter with white violence comes when she runs into a group of patrollers whose job it is to keep slaves obedient to their masters. These people don't get paid for what they do. They do it because they like to exert power over other people.

I was working out of a casual labor agency—we regulars called it a slave market. (3.1.2)

Dana jokes about how people call her temp agency a "slave market," since these people get paid basement wages to do jobs that no one else wants to do. But the joke becomes a lot more poignant when you realize that Dana is going to find out exactly what it's like to live in a real slave market.

He led the way past the main house away from the slave cabins and other buildings, away from the small slave children who chased each other and shouted and didn't understand yet that they were slaves. (3.4.24)

Dana can't help but feel sad when she sees young black children running around and playing. The children are allowed to play because they're not old enough yet for fieldwork. They're so young and innocent that they don't realize what a difficult life they're going to have ahead of them.

The ease. Us, the children… I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery. (3.7.77)

Dana is disappointed by how easy it is to accept slavery as normal when the whole world around her supports it entirely. She'd like to think that one smart person could find a way to buck the system. But that's not how it all works out.

"My father was a slave, and they sold him away from her. She said marrying a slave is almost bad as being a slave." (4.10.30)

Alice admits that she's taking a great risk by being married to a slave, especially considering that she is a free woman. By entering Isaac's life, she basically risks (and eventually loses) her freedom. Her punishment for trying to help Isaac escape slavery is to become a slave herself.

"It's good to have children […] Good to have sons. But it's so hard to see them be slaves." (5.5.2)

Nigel talks to Dana about the conflict he feels when looking at his kids. On the one hand, he feels the joy of being a father. But on the other hand, he feels the pain of knowing that these children will grow up to be slaves.

And in later papers, notice of the sale of the slaves from Mr. Rufus Weylin's estate. These slaves were listed by their first names with their approximate ages and their skills given. (Epilogue.5)

Dana knew when she killed Rufus that she'd be dooming all of his slaves to be sold. She sadly confirms this fact when she checks an old newspaper and sees that all of Rufus' slaves were indeed sold off. Their lives probably got worse from that point on, and this is a guilt that Dana will have to carry around with her.

Sarah was listed, but Joe and Hagar were not. Everyone else was listed. Everyone. (Epilogue.5)

Dana likes to think that Alice's children—Joe and Hagar—became free after Rufus died. She can't be sure, but she does know that Hagar grew up to have children and that these children and grandchildren eventually led to Dana.

I could find nothing in the incomplete newspaper records to suggest that he had been murdered, or even that the fire had been arson. (Epilogue.6)

It looks like the slave Nigel did a good job of concealing the fact that Dana murdered Rufus by burning down the entire house. After all, the white people of the area would take brutal revenge on all of Rufus' slaves if they found out. They would want to set an example to discourage any other slaves from murdering their masters.

"Sell him," he said. His smile was still in place, but there was no longer any humor in it. (5.11.13)

Rufus doesn't want any black men hanging around Dana and hitting on her. When Dana asks what he's going to do about it, Rufus replies that he'll sell whoever's doing it. He even makes good on this threat later on when he sells a slave named Sam who's been chatting with Dana. It all goes to show just how much Rufus thinks of these human beings as his personal property.