Study Guide

Kindred Chapter 4: The Fight

By Octavia Estelle Butler

Chapter 4: The Fight

  • Dana gives us another flashback to when she and Kevin first talked about moving in together. Kevin wanted her to get rid of some of her books so she could move in with him. She suggested that he get rid of some of his and he backed down on the request. They also got in a fight because Kevin wanted Dana to do some typing for him and she thought this work was beneath her.
  • It turns out that neither Dana nor Kevin's families were pumped about the interracial marriage. Kevin's sister pretty much told him she wouldn't talk to him anymore. Dana's uncle felt like Dana was betraying her race by marrying a white guy.
  • Eventually, Dana and Kevin got sick of dealing with their families and eloped to Las Vegas to get married.
  • Dana brings us back to the present where she's awakened on her bathroom floor. She panics when she realizes that she left Kevin behind in 1815. Her back is still on fire from being whipped by Tom Weylin. She takes a bath to relieve the pain and to think about her situation.
  • After a few days, Dana needs to call her cousin to buy groceries for her. The cousin sees her and assumes Kevin has been beating her. She's sad that Dana denies it because she assumes Dana is defending Kevin.
  • Dana is home for eight days before her dizziness returns. She travels back to a forest and finds Rufus getting manhandled by a black man. It looks like the black man is going to beat Rufus to death. Nearby, a grown-up Alice Greenwood is crying and wearing a torn skirt. Dana can guess right away that Rufus tried to rape her and is getting a beating for it.
  • Dana intervenes before the black man can kill Rufus. She tells the black man and Alice that they'll have no chance of surviving if they kill Rufus. She promises that she'll get Rufus to lie and say he was attacked by white men. So Alice and the black man (named Isaac) take off and Dana waits for Rufus to regain consciousness.
  • When Rufus comes around, Alice gets him to promise that he'll tell his father that white men attacked him. Rufus doesn't like it, but he caves because Dana says she'll never help him again if he doesn't agree. At the same time, she secretly knows that Rufus has to get Alice pregnant with a daughter named Hagar if she (Dana) is ever going to be born.
  • Dana can tell by Rufus' looks that several years have passed since she was last transported.
  • She asks Rufus why he would try to rape Alice. Rufus blames Alice for the trouble by saying that everything would have been fine if she'd only stopped saying no to him. In other words, he thinks it's Alice's fault for getting raped because she wouldn't stop saying no to him. That's quite the logic, there...
  • Dana goes to Rufus' house and fetches his father, who's super-annoyed by the way Rufus always gets himself into trouble. Oh yeah, and the old man isn't exactly comfortable to see Dana. After all, she disappeared right in front of his eyes last time her saw her (when he was whipping her).
  • Rufus keeps his word to Dana and lies about being beaten up by white men instead of by Isaac. He also neglects to mention that Isaac and Alice have run away.
  • Dana goes with Rufus to his room to take care of him. She finds out there that Rufus' mother has gone off to a mental hospital after a few bad childbirth experiences.
  • Rufus warns Dana about making the same mistakes she made last time she was in 1815. She can't go around teaching slaves how to read and write or she might get herself killed.
  • Dana gets Rufus to promise her he'll send a letter to Kevin telling him to come back. It sounds like five years have passed since Dana left Kevin behind in the past. He waited for years for her to come back, then left Maryland to travel North. Rufus is confident that Kevin can be called back to Maryland, though.
  • Rufus starts leafing through a book that Dana brought back in time with her. It's a history book that talks all about the end of slavery in America. Rufus can't believe what he's reading. He tells Dana to throw the book in the fire because she'll be whipped if she's caught with it.
  • Isaac and Alice are gone for four days before the authorities catch them. And it gets pretty gruesome after that. They cut off Isaac's ears for running away and sell him off to a slave trader. Rufus buys Alice at an auction, which means that she's his slave now and no longer a free woman.
  • Dana has a conversation with Sarah the cook about slaves running away. Sarah doesn't want to hear about how some slaves make it to freedom. She's determined to make the most of her terrible situation and not to dream about anything more.
  • At this time, Rufus rushes into the cookhouse and asks for Dana's help. He has brought Alice back to the plantation on a wagon and she looks as though she's about to die. It turns out that she got a very bad beating after being caught with Isaac. She uses stinging pickle brine to keep the wounds on Alice's back from being infected.
  • Eventually, Dana figures it's been long enough for Kevin to have received her letter. She asks Rufus about it, but he's evasive and says it'll take time. Meanwhile, Dana takes care of Alice and nurses her back to health. Alice has some amnesia and she doesn't quite remember Rufus' attempt to rape her. Rufus wants to keep it that way.
  • One day, Carrie goes into labor and starts having a baby. Dana has to hang out with Alice in the cook house while Sarah takes cares of things with Carrie. During the conversation, Alice recovers her memories of what Rufus did to her and what happened with Isaac losing his ears. She freaks out and wishes Dana had just let her die. Now she also has a murderous hate for Rufus.
  • At this point, Dana can hear the cries of Carrie's baby.
  • The next time Dana sees Rufus, she tells him that she wants to write another letter to Kevin. Rufus says it hasn't been long enough for Kevin to get the letter, but Dana insists.
  • And here comes Rufus' dark side. Now he wants Dana to convince Alice to sleep with him. Basically, he says he'll make Dana and Alice's lives impossible if Alice doesn't give in. So Dana eventually gives up and goes to Alice. Let's not forget that she needs Alice to give in if she (Dana) is ever going to be born.
  • Horribly enough, Dana goes to Alice and convinces her to stop resisting Rufus. Alice calls her a traitor to all black people. It's a pretty ugly scene, as you can imagine. But in the end, Alice goes to Rufus.
  • A few days later, Alice hands Dana some papers she found in Rufus' bag. The papers are Dana's letters to Kevin, meaning that Rufus never mailed them. Dana decides to run away from the plantation when she finds out.
  • When she's trying to flee, Rufus comes riding after her with his father. Someone must have tipped them off about Dana leaving. They catch her and Tom Weylin knocks her out by kicking her in the face.
  • When Dana wakes up, she's tied up. Rufus tells her nothing would have happened if she'd only done what he said. Again, he blames a woman for getting hurt when he and his dad are clearly the ones doing the hurting.
  • Mr. Weylin strings Dana up by her hands and gives her another whipping. This time though, she doesn't travel back to 1976 because she knows the whipping won't kill her. She just lives through the horrible pain.
  • Later on, a slave named Liza apparently falls down and hurts herself. But the truth is that the other female slaves have beaten her senseless because they know she ratted out Dana when Dana was trying to escape.
  • After Dana recovers from her whipping, Rufus calls her into his room and shows her a letter from Kevin saying that he's coming to the Weylin farm. It looks like Rufus' dad finally acted for Rufus and sent Dana's letters. Tom might even have a little more honesty in him than Rufus.
  • Dana asks Rufus why he didn't send her letters, and he replies that he didn't want her to leave.
  • The next day, Rufus and his father leave for town and the plantation's overseer forces Dana to do some washing. That afternoon, Rufus and his dad return with Dana's husband Kevin. Kevin has been living in the past for five full years now and the time has aged him badly. Kevin is slightly uncomfortable because he's gotten so used to the ways of the past and doesn't know how to act toward Dana.
  • Kevin puts Dana on his horse and they ride away from the Weylin plantation. But once again, Rufus stands in the middle of the road to prevent Dana from leaving. He wants them to stay for dinner, but they try to ride past him. Then without warning, Rufus aims his rifle at both Kevin and Dana and orders them back into his house.
  • Dana talks smack to Rufus until she's convinced he's going to shoot her. That's when she gets dizzy and passes out.