HomeLiterature Study GuidesKindredThe Fight Parts 9 12 Summary

Kindred | Study Guide

Octavia Butler

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Kindred | The Fight, Parts 9–12 | Summary

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Summary

Part 9

Dana asks Nigel if he knows how long a letter from Boston takes to reach the post office in Maryland. Nigel doesn't know, and he did not see whether or not Rufus mailed the letter, as he was running his own errands while Rufus was at the post office.

Alice, who Dana is still caring for, has gone from the state of an infant to a child to someone slowly regaining clarity of mind. Rufus hopes Alice never remembers what happened, as her repressed memory has made her friendly toward him.

Part 10

Carrie, Nigel's wife, has gone into labor, so Sarah leaves Alice and Dana alone in the cookhouse so she can help with the delivery.

Alice's body and memory have been healing and growing stronger, and she begins to question Dana. Having been born a free woman, it hasn't occurred to Alice that she is a slave now, and the news shocks her. Dana helps as best she can as Alice recovers her memories of Isaac and being caught by the patrol. The Weylins' demands for dinner distract Dana, who is left to prepare the large meal in Sarah's absence. After crying, praying, and cursing, Alice says she wishes Dana had let Isaac kill Rufus or had been wise enough to let Alice die instead of nursing her back to health. Full of contempt for Dana, Alice rails against her for "acting white"; meanwhile, the cries of the new baby reach the cookhouse.

Part 11

Tom Weylin reacts angrily when he overhears Rufus and Dana discussing the letter Rufus mailed to Kevin. Dana does not know the source of his anger, as Weylin makes her leave the room.

The next day, Rufus tries to convince Dana that Kevin probably began a new life without her. He also tells Dana that his father thinks Rufus and Dana should become lovers, although he adds that if he himself ever felt romantic feelings for Dana, he would slit his own throat. Dana is glad he feels that way. She knows she will resort to violence if he ever approaches her in that manner. Rufus changes the subject back to Alice. He wants Dana to get Alice to give herself to him willingly so he does not have to beat her or command the overseer to whip her into submission. Rufus is determined to have Alice as his lover and to never lose her again. Dana doesn't want to help Rufus—to her, it feels like helping him commit rape, but Dana also feels she should help Alice avoid more pain if she can.

Dana finds Alice babysitting and sewing in Nigel and Carrie's cabin, and she gathers courage to explain Rufus's demands and what choices Dana believes Alice has—give herself quietly to Rufus, be whipped and forced into submission, or run away. Alice is very angry and upset, not liking at all that Dana is the one giving her this information. Alice doesn't have the courage to run away after being caught and nearly killed, nor does she have the courage to kill Rufus.

Part 12

Alice chooses not to fight Rufus, but Dana tells the reader that a part of Alice seems to die with this decision. Meanwhile, months have gone by, and there is no word or appearance from Kevin. Dana asks to send another letter to him, which Rufus agrees to send because of Dana's assistance with Alice. Rufus seems to be getting what he wants from Alice, but one morning Alice comes downstairs with a swollen face from Rufus beating her. It becomes clear to Dana that Rufus is not someone to trust or rely on for help escaping to the North.

It turns out Rufus never sent Dana's letters to Kevin. Alice finds them hidden in Rufus's room and shows them to Dana. Dana prepares to run away.

Scared half to death now that she's seen and experienced many dangers, Dana makes her way to the North at night after everyone has gone to bed. She hides whenever she sees anyone on the road and battles a dog in a field by hitting him with a stick.

When dawn comes, Dana looks for a place to hide in the daylight, but two horsemen, who turn out to be Rufus and Tom Weylin, show up on the road and cause her to leap back into a field and hide in the tall grass. Rufus slows down his horse nearby. He hears a twig snap when Dana steps on it, and he lurches on his horse into the field. Rather than be run over by the horse, Dana must come out of hiding. Rufus leaps on top of her and calls his father for help. Before Dana can reach her knife, which is hidden under her pants, Tom Weylin kicks her in the face and knocks her unconscious. The last thing she hears is Rufus yelling that his father did not need to kick her.

Analysis

Weapons, specifically whips, are symbolic in these parts of "The Fight," even if they exist only as looming threats. For instance, the threat of being whipped and the idea of running and being caught make Alice concede to Rufus's demands of sex. The three "choices" before her are not choices at all, and they fold into the overarching themes of power and violence. Rufus wields the symbolic whip as a weapon over Alice, bending her to his will. Fear and threats allow the white characters to maintain their positions of power over the slaves.

The complexities of Dana and Rufus's relationship deepen. When Rufus demands that she talk Alice into having sex with him, Dana sees the temper and cruelty of which others have spoken. This outburst from Rufus frightens Dana, making her conscious of her concealed knife and how she could use it if need be. Dana thinks, "I could reach it. He wasn't going to beat me. Not him, not ever." The knife as a possible weapon is symbolic for Dana, giving her an ability to fight off the injustices of her situation and the control wielded over Alice. Though she doesn't use the knife at this moment, it foreshadows later events in the story.

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