Literature Study GuidesKindredThe Fall Parts 5 8 Summary

Kindred | Study Guide

Octavia Butler

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Course Hero, "Kindred Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed October 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Kindred/.

Kindred | The Fall, Parts 5–8 | Summary

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Summary

Part 5

Three days go by. Dana learns how to cook from Sarah. She's also been working under the zealous watch of Margaret Weylin, who has nothing to do but boss slaves around. Dana tells the reader that Margaret, in a fit of anger, once threw hot coffee on her.

Dana finds refuge in Kevin's room, which she keeps clean, but she sleeps with the other house slaves on a mat in the attic. Later, she and Kevin talk about their situation. Kevin thinks they should leave—it's too dangerous—but Dana wants to stay and influence Rufus. They discuss whether Dana should sleep in Kevin's bed at night. They cannot be certain if it will cause them to be kicked out of the house, but after Kevin tells Dana that Margaret Weylin is chasing after him lustfully, she agrees to begin sleeping in his bed at night; she misses him, and it's worth the risk.

Later, at Kevin's suggestion, Rufus summons Dana and asks her to read Robinson Crusoe to him. Rufus, who is a poor student, likes how Dana reads, and he tries to read aloud but gives up quickly out of frustration. When Dana leaves, Tom Weylin corners her in the hall. At first she thinks he's mad because she's been reading to Rufus, but he offers to buy her so she can live on the plantation permanently and work as a tutor. Dana says it is up to Kevin; it's his job to tutor Rufus. When Weylin presses her to know what she thinks, Dana says she prefers to stay with Kevin. Weylin tells her she'll be sorry for that, as he believes Kevin will trick her and sell her in Louisiana. Considering Weylin doesn't like educated slaves or ones who have ever been free, Dana is surprised Weylin actually feels sorry for her.

Part 6

After Dana watches Tom Weylin cruelly whip a man, she plays her slave role more carefully, fearing it could happen to her one day. Despite waking up in Kevin's room before the Weylins get up and going to bed after them every day and night, Margaret Weylin knows about their sleeping arrangement and slaps Dana on the face for sleeping in his room. Later, Sarah tells Dana that Margaret wants Kevin for herself. When Margaret slaps and yells at her, Dana remains silent, realizing Margaret Weylin is slightly afraid of her.

Talking later with Sarah, Dana finds out it was Margaret's idea to sell Sarah's children to other slave owners; Margaret wanted the money to buy new furniture and dishes. Sarah also relays that Tom Weylin came into the cookhouse earlier that day, wanting to know whether Dana is lazy or industrious; apparently he is serious about buying her. Dana tells Sarah that Kevin will never sell her. "Try to get him to free you now," Sarah advises Dana, "while you still young and pretty." Dana asks Sarah if she ever tried in the same way when she was young, but Sarah just stares at her and then walks away.

Part 7

Dana agrees to teach Nigel to read, but she makes certain he understands the consequences if Tom Weylin catches them. Nigel shows Dana the scars on his back from where Tom Weylin has whipped him in the past. Clearly, Nigel understands.

Heading out into the woods to spend some alone time together, Dana and Kevin pause to watch some slave children play a game, pretending to sell each other and using a tree stump for a slave trader platform. The scene disgusts Dana more than it bothers Kevin, who is more fascinated by watching history as it's happening. Dana realizes they are truly only observers acting their roles, cushioned by belonging in 1976. Yet she ponders how easily they've fit into their new environment, how normal it feels, and how easy it is to adapt to slavery. Kevin's impression is similar to Dana's, although he's surprised by how much work is accomplished with so little management. During their conversation, Dana tells Kevin about the risk she is taking by tutoring Nigel. Kevin is nervous that it may cause her to be whipped, but he tells her to "do a good job" and maybe Nigel can teach the other slaves to read and write one day.

Part 8

Margaret Weylin vies for Rufus's attention while Dana reads Gulliver's Travels to him. Rufus's hot-tempered explosion makes his mother cry and leave the room. Dana tells Rufus to mind his temper, fearing it will bring wrath from his father, but Rufus assures her that his mother "never tells."

Dana meets Nigel in the cookhouse to give him his reading and writing lesson for the day. Carrie, Sarah's daughter, is there, and she also desires to learn to read and write. Dana suggests they find a secret place; Sarah, out of fear of the consequences, has forbidden Dana to teach her daughter. Dana's conscience does not allow her to reject anyone who wants to learn.

Just after Dana gives Nigel a spelling test and throws the evidence in the hearth fire, Tom Weylin appears suddenly in the doorway of the cookhouse. Caught by surprise, Dana trembles and mouths, "Get Kevin," to Nigel. Furious at being disobeyed, Weylin drags her outside, pushes her on the ground, and whips her, shredding her back open. Dana, fearing for her life, screams and passes out just as Kevin is running toward her from the house.

Analysis

The symbol of the whip appears in these sections of "The Fall." Dana and other slaves are made to watch Weylin whip a slave for answering back. The memory of the whipping stays with Dana and teaches her to check her tongue and behavior. Over time she ventures to teach Nigel to read, leading to the whipping that casts her back to her own time period. This symbol ties into the major themes of violence and power, as the whip is a weapon used to enforce the oppression of slaves.

Dana witnesses the "game" of auction by the slave children. While horrified, she sees how easily people accept slavery, including herself and Kevin, who says she is "reading too much into a kids' game." This motif supports the theme of power over versus power under once again. Kevin is in a position of "power over" as a white man in antebellum Maryland, and Dana is in a "power under" position as a black female slave. These positions inform their thinking of the world.

Dana's relationship with Rufus shows the complexity of power. Readers see that Rufus somehow calls to her across time when he is in dangerous situations that could lead to his death. Dana, thrust into this relationship, becomes the one to save him and ensures her own existence in doing so. This is a classic science-fiction concept known as the "grandfather paradox." If Dana fails to save Rufus, will she erase herself from future existence? Dana sees the need to save Rufus from physical harm and ultimately from death for that reason. She also begins to have an affinity for the boy, wanting to guide him to be a better human being than his parents.

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