Study Guide

Kindred Chapter 3: The Fall

By Octavia Estelle Butler

Chapter 3: The Fall

  • Dana gives us a flashback to how she and Kevin first met. They were working at crummy factory jobs and both trying to make livings as writers. Kevin kept asking her about what kinds of stuff she wrote, and she eventually fell into a relationship with him. This is the first time in the book that Dana informs us that Kevin is a white man. It turns out that people found an interracial relationship weird in 1976, although not as weird as people would have found it in 1815.
  • When one of Kevin's novels made enough money to let him quit his job and write full-time, he asked her on a date because he didn't want to stop seeing her once he left the factory.
  • Back in the present (1976), Dana rejects Kevin's offer to go to the library so they can forge her some fake "free slave" papers for the next time she time-travels. She doesn't want to go because she's worried about what'll happen if she transports while sitting in a moving car.
  • Just as Kevin's about to go out, Dana feels that old sickening dizziness. Kevin runs to grab her and the two of them travel back in time together.
  • Dana looks and sees Rufus lying on the ground with a black boy about his age, named Nigel, standing near him. Rufus has fallen and broken his leg. Dana gets Nigel to go find a wagon to take Rufus home.
  • Dana decides to tell Rufus everything she knows about her time-travelling and where she's really from. Rufus has trouble understanding, but he eventually believes her after she tells him a few things that'll happen in the future and shows him a few coins from her time. It turns out that Rufus has also told Nigel about Dana in the past and how she appeared and vanished out of nowhere.
  • Mr. Weylin shows up with a wagon and takes them all to his place. Then he asks Kevin to come with him (as a white man) while ordering Dana to go get something to eat with the rest of the slaves. Rufus wants Dana to stay with him, though, so Weylin agrees.
  • After they've gotten Rufus settled, Mrs. Weylin orders Dana downstairs. She heads out to the cookhouse with a mute slave named Carrie.
  • Out in the cookhouse, Dana realizes how much some of the slaves like to talk about their masters behind their backs. She tries to talk smack with them, but then they shut down because they don't trust her. She talks too much like white people for their liking.
  • While she's eating, Dana can hear Rufus screaming from the house. It sounds like the doctor has arrived and is trying to reset his leg bone in its proper place. Dana remembers that doctors in 1815 don't necessarily know as much as doctors in her time.
  • Dana talks to the cook named Sarah and finds out that Tom Weylin has sold off all of her children except one—Carrie. As you can imagine, this has left Sarah deeply resentful toward the Weylins. She especially blames Mrs. Weylin.
  • Kevin comes outside and leads Dana away for a private chat. They decide it's best if Kevin stay as close to Dana as possible without raising too many eyebrows. If Dana transports back to 1976, she might leave Kevin behind if he's not holding onto her.
  • In the meantime, Kevin has told Mr. Weylin that he is a writer who's out of money. Weylin has offered him a job to teach Rufus to read and write, so it looks like Kevin and Dana have a plan for the time being. But this also means that Dana will have to work like a slave alongside the others. Kevin doesn't like the idea, but it doesn't look like they have a choice.
  • Dana decides that they should put as much effort as possible into raising Rufus to be a good non-racist person. That way he'll treat Dana well if she ever comes back and he's running the Weylin plantation.
  • Days go by and Dana spends most of her energy trying to stay away from Margaret Weylin. The woman hates Dana and will do anything she can to make her life miserable. Dana also finds out that Margaret has been hitting on Kevin really hard and trying to get into his bed.
  • Kevin insists that Dana sleep in his room with him, and he doesn't care what kind of scandal it will create in the house. He doesn't want Dana sleeping on the floor in a room full of slaves.
  • Rufus wants Dana to read to him, so she picks out the novel Robinson Crusoe and starts reading. She tries to keep it secret though because the Weylins don't like educated slaves.
  • After Dana is done reading, Rufus tells her that he told his mother that Dana was the same woman who saved him from the river when he was a kid. Mrs. Weylin said she didn't believe it, but Rufus knows that she knows in her heart that it's true.
  • Dana runs into Tom Weylin when she steps into the hallway. He yells at her for reading to his son. Then he walks her down the hallway and asks her personal questions about when she was born and how many children she's had. It turns out that he's sizing her up because he's thinking about buying her from Kevin. It sounds like Mr. Weylin actually feels sorry for Dana for belonging to Kevin.
  • Eventually, Mrs. Weylin gets so jealous of Dana sleeping in Kevin's room that she slaps Dana across the face.
  • Dana goes to talk to Sarah the cook about Mrs. Weylin. Apparently, it was Margaret's idea to sell off all of Sarah's children. That's why Sarah has a real hate-on for Margaret. Sarah thinks that Dana can talk Kevin into freeing her as a slave, since she can see that Kevin loves Dana.
  • Things go more smoothly until one day, Mr. Weylin catches Dana reading a book in his library and tells her never to do it again unless she's reading to Rufus.
  • Later that day, Nigel asks Dana to teach him to read. And she does.
  • One day, Dana passes some young black children and hears them playing a game. They're pretending to auction each other off at a slave fair. Dana is disgusted by the brutal life that these kids have to look forward to.
  • One day, Rufus talks back to his father and his father punishes him by forbidding Dana to read to him for four days.
  • Rufus' mom coddles him while he's being read to. One day, he explodes at her and tells her to leave him alone. His mother can't believe that he'd rather spend time with a black slave (Dana) than with her.
  • Later on, Dana runs into the servant named Carrie and offers to teach her to read and write. These things would be especially useful for Carrie because she's mute.
  • Dana sits down to teach Carrie and the boy Nigel to read and write. But wouldn't you know it? Tom Weylin comes barging in looking for help with something. He sees what Dana is doing and gives her a brutal whipping. Dana screams for Kevin, but he doesn't make it in time. She passes out and transports back to 1976 without him.