HomeLiterature Study GuidesKindredThe Fight Parts 1316 Summary

Kindred | Study Guide

Octavia Butler

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Kindred | The Fight, Parts 13–16 | Summary

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Summary

Part 13

Dana wakes up, bouncing along on the back of Rufus's horse, having been tied up and thrown over it sideways. When Dana moans, Rufus takes her off the horse and sets her down in the grass. "Fool!" he calls her for trying to run away.

She nods, signifying she will not fight, so Rufus unties her and lets her ride the rest of the way to the plantation in front of him on the horse. When they are almost home, Rufus tells Dana she will be whipped as punishment. The dread and fear of whipping cause Dana to slide off the horse, even though she is battered and bleeding. She runs for the trees. Rufus catches her, and it takes him, his father, and the overseer to overtake her. Weylin ties her to a tree, rips off her blouse, and lashes her back. Dana hopes fear of death will send her to the present, but it does not work this time; she knows now that people survive being whipped.

Knocked unconscious by the pain, Dana is unaware of Rufus untying her and bringing her to Alice and Carrie in Nigel and Carrie's cabin. Later, Alice tells Dana that Rufus demanded they care for her the same way Dana cared for Alice.

When Dana wakes up, she wonders if she will ever have the strength and bravery to run away again. Her mouth is swollen—she lost two teeth when Weylin kicked her in the face—but she manages to tell Alice, "I'll try again." Alice calms Dana, telling her to rest. Dana's mind races, and her body throbs in pain. She longs for her sleeping pills, but she is also glad she does not have them because she would be tempted to end her life.

Part 14

Alice visits Dana, who is resting and healing on her pallet in the attic. Alice tells her that Liza is the one who betrayed her by alerting Tom Weylin when Dana ran away. Alice, Tess, and Carrie have beaten Liza—almost as badly as Dana was beaten—in revenge, and also so Liza never tells on a slave again.

The idea of having someone hate her so much as to try to get her killed startles Dana, and she understands the patrollers' cold motives more than Liza's personal malice.

Part 15

Rufus hands Dana a letter from Kevin addressed to Tom Weylin. Kevin is on his way to the Weylin plantation and may even arrive before the letter.

Grateful and surprised, Dana asks Rufus why his father sent Kevin a letter. She reveals to Rufus that she knows he never sent her own letters to Kevin, claiming that she—not Alice—searched through Rufus's room to find the correspondence.

Rufus, angry and threatening toward Dana at first, relents and admits he did not want Dana to leave him, which caused him to lie about the letters. His father, believing a man's promise is to be kept at all costs, sent a letter to Kevin. Rufus surprises Dana again by asking her to join him for breakfast. He wants to know if her back still hurts from the whipping, to which she replies yes.

Part 16

Jake Edwards, the overseer, has been given full rein of the Weylin plantation for the day. He hunts down Dana in the cookhouse to pick on her and make her wash clothes, despite her back still needing time to heal from being whipped.

Alice comes to help Dana as she struggles with the heavy workload and convinces her to give up doing the laundry. An older, gray-haired man appears on his horse near the laundry fence. Dana doesn't recognize him right away but soon realizes it's her husband. Kevin has come back for her.

Kevin's embrace hurts Dana's back, and finding out Weylin whipped his wife again draws Kevin toward the house in retaliation. Dana tells him that Tom Weylin and Rufus are out for the day. Alice helps convince Kevin to leave with Dana while they still can.

Leaving on a tired mare, they run into Rufus on the road. He blocks their path with his horse and invites them to supper, mentioning Weylin will want payment for Dana, which angers her. She refuses to spend another minute in Rufus's house. Rufus draws his rifle on Kevin to make Dana stay. Kevin takes her hand as Dana taunts Rufus into training the weapon on her instead. Believing Rufus will shoot to kill causes a dizzy spell that sends Dana spiraling and wincing in pain.

Analysis

The theme of kinship ties is layered within these parts of "The Fight." First, Dana and Alice are kin, even though Alice does not know this. Their similarities and connections go beyond ancestry. Both women are beloved by Rufus, even if his cruelty distorts his affection and brings out his need to control them. Both women are involved with white men; however, Dana's marriage to Kevin is by choice, while Alice's relationship with Rufus is by force. Somehow, Dana and Alice make Liza hate them. Alice calls Dana names, criticizing her for being like a white person, and Dana absorbs the vitriol for the sake of peace. Though it is hardly mentioned in the novel, Tom Weylin is also a distant ancestor of Dana's. He acts violently toward her in these chapters but also displays one of his only redeeming qualities: fairness. Weylin is the one to contact Kevin about Dana's presence, even if it means losing a slave. He possesses an honor code that dictates that promises should be kept, so he keeps Rufus's promise to contact Kevin. This, of course, does not excuse his brutal violence and whipping of Dana.

The sudden brutality of the whipping strikes fear into Dana. She now understands how slaves are made to obey. The fear of this weapon makes her ruminate on her fortitude to strive for freedom; she feels the full weight of oppression. Although she is able to return to 1976, Dana feels immensely for the many slaves unable to escape this oppression.

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