Study Guide

Kindred Chapter 2: The Fire

By Octavia Estelle Butler

Chapter 2: The Fire

  • Dana takes a shower and tries to get over the insane transportation thing that just happened to her. She has trouble taking her surroundings as real because she feels like they could disappear again at any second.
  • Once Dana gets back to the living room, she feels dizzy and sits down. She reaches for the dining table, but it disappears before she can grab it.
  • Dana wakes up sitting on a small green bed. She turns and sees a boy standing at the bedroom window and lighting the drapes on fire. Dana jumps up and beats the fire out of the drapes. Then she tells the boy he could have burned down the whole house if he hadn't been careful.
  • The boy tells her not to talk to him like that. Then Dana realizes that the kid has red hair and that he might be the same kid she saved from drowning the last time she was transported. But this kid looks like he's several years older than the other kid would have been.
  • Sure enough though, the kid tells her his name is Rufus. She asks him if he remembers a time when he almost drowned. This gets the kid's attention and he stares closely at her. He says he remembers her as the woman who saved him. She also realizes that Rufus had a vision of her in her dining room with her husband before she was transported.
  • It's strange, but Dana has had to save Rufus' life both times she's traveled. But she gets sidetracked when she hears Rufus using some really racist language. She tells him not to talk that way and he just stares back at her in confusion.
  • When Rufus starts talking about his daddy using a whip on black people, Dana becomes suspicious of where she's traveled to. She finds out that she's in Maryland instead of California, which is where she lives with her husband. Oh yeah, and she also finds out that it's the year 1815.
  • Yup, so she has traveled not only across the country, but back in time to the days of slave plantations. Suddenly, Dana realizes that Rufus Weylin is the name of one of her very distant ancestors. She asks Rufus his last name and sure enough it's Weylin. So she has traveled back in time to save the life of her great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.
  • She never knew that this ancestor of hers was white, though. It turns out that her female ancestor Alice is a free black girl living in the area. Rufus says Alice is his friend, though Dana knows that they'll eventually grow up and have a baby girl named Hagar.
  • Now Dana wonders if she is travelling back in time in order to save her ancestor and therefore herself, since she can't be born if Rufus doesn't grow up to have a baby with Alice.
  • Rufus quickly tells Dana that she'll have to start acting like a slave and call white people master if she wants to avoid getting in trouble. But she's not willing to do it.
  • Dana gets Rufus to help sneak her out of the house without being seen. She wants to know where she can find Alice's cabin in the woods because Alice and her mother are freed slaves and Dana thinks she can stay with them.
  • Dana heads out into the woods and finds the cabin she's looking for. But before she can get there, she sees a gang of white men barge into the cabin, knock a woman unconscious, and drag out a black man kicking and screaming. They whip him nearly to death and drag him toward the Weylin house. Meanwhile, they leave behind a woman and her daughter (Alice). Dana approaches them after the men have left.
  • Dana helps Alice's unconscious mother wake up. She asks the woman if she can stay with her for the night and the woman eventually agrees. It turns out that the black man who got dragged away was her husband. But he wasn't a free black like her, but a slave who was off his master's property without permission.
  • Dana gets the mother and daughter inside the cabin before heading back outside to fetch a blanket.
  • When she's out there, she runs into one of the white gang members who has come back looking for Alice's mom. He takes one look at Dana and tries to rape her. But she manages to grab hold of an old tree limb and knock him out with it. The dude is dead for all she knows. But just as she loses consciousness, she feels herself transporting again…
  • Yup, Dana is back home in 1976 again. Kevin is hovering over her asking if she's alright. But she's so tired she passes out until the next morning.
  • Dana wakes up and tells Kevin everything about travelling back to 1815 Maryland. They decide that, no matter what happens, the best thing to do is for Dana to tie a bag around her waist with some useful supplies in it. She also takes a switchblade with her. She also takes a map of Maryland in case she gets stuck in time and has to flee to the Northern U.S. to escape slavery.
  • Kevin also figures out that Dana tends to come home whenever she's convinced her life is in danger, whether it was facing down Tom Weylin's shotgun the first time or fighting with the white rapist the second time.