Course Hero. "Kindred Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 9 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Kindred/>.
Course Hero. (2016, July 28). Kindred Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 9, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Kindred/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Kindred Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Kindred/.
Course Hero, "Kindred Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed May 9, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Kindred/.
Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of The Storm, Parts 1–6 of Octavia Butler's novel Kindred.
Dana and Kevin spend the night together in their own bed in Altadena, California. The next day, they find out it is still the same day—June 18, 1976—as when Dana traveled back to the plantation. She has been gone only two hours, even though she spent more than two months in the past. Kevin's five years in the past took away eight days from his life in the present.
Kevin has trouble adjusting to the current time. He punches his typewriter, throws his electric pencil sharpener on the floor, bars Dana from entering his office, and eats his dinner in silence. He's angry but cannot express why to Dana; his anger reminds her of Tom Weylin, so she leaves him alone, hoping that time will help him recover from the awful events he experienced by being trapped in the past.
Before dinner, Dana listens to news on the radio; there is war in Lebanon and riots in South Africa. She relates the current South African whites to the whites of the American South in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During their tense dinner, Dana's grip on reality loosens, and she cries out for Kevin to bring her the packed bag from the bedroom. As he shoves it into her hands, Kevin blurs, and she cannot hear his voice through the loud noises that take its place.
Dana trips over Rufus, who is face down in a deep puddle, on the verge of drowning. She rolls him over and tries to drag him into the house. He's too heavy, so she goes for help. Nigel answers the door, and they head back to Rufus. Nigel carries him into the house.
After changing clothes, Dana meets Tom Weylin, at his request, in the library. He asks about the healing cut on Dana's face and reacts angrily when she tells him it's the wound still healing from when he kicked her in the face. For Weylin, that happened six years ago.
Dana tries to threaten Tom Weylin, saying she will not save Rufus next time if Weylin mistreats her again. Weylin's counterthreat—he says he will "flay [her] alive" if she disrespects him again—subdues her and reminds her she has no rights or power when she is living on the Weylin plantation.
Nigel tells Dana that Rufus has "ague," which is not a word she understands. When a mosquito bites her, Dana connects it to the sickness causing Rufus to tremble and writhe on his bed—malaria. She explains to Nigel what malaria is and asks him to find mosquito netting to use as a canopy to protect Rufus and others on the plantation from infection.
Tom Weylin, who thinks the idea of mosquitoes causing this sickness is sheer madness, storms into Rufus's bedroom. Dana realizes Rufus must have a disease much more severe than malaria. She tells Weylin to call a doctor, but he orders Dana to care for Rufus, figuring she's "not natural"—as she literally pops in and out of reality from somewhere else—and is thus the best person to save his son.
For several days and nights, Dana tends to Rufus, who has an intense, terrible illness of some sort. Finally, Rufus's fever breaks, and Dana is allowed to leave his room and sleep on a pallet in the attic with the other slaves. Alice rushes in the next morning to tell Dana that Tom Weylin is having chest pains and that she is needed downstairs. When Dana arrives, it is too late; Tom Weylin is dead from a heart attack. Dana administers what she knows of CPR, which is practically nothing. Dana is unable to revive Tom Weylin, and Rufus blames Dana for his death, saying, "You just let him die."
Much has changed in six years. Nigel has three children. Alice has lost two babies to fever. Alice's only surviving child, Joe, looks more like his father, Rufus, than his mother. He's a thin, sickly boy, but Alice loves him.
Rufus punishes Dana by sending her to work in the fields. She wonders if he really believes she let his father die on purpose or if he just wants someone to hurt because of his own grief. Dana is disappointed to learn that her ancestor, Hagar, has not yet been born to Alice and Rufus—it means she will continue to travel back and forth between the present and the past.
The new overseer, Evan Fowler, works Dana too hard in the fields, lashing her almost immediately across her back and breasts. He pushes and threatens her all day until she is in so much pain from the lacerations and onerous fieldwork that she passes out in the dirt.
Thinking the man's voice she hears is Kevin speaking, Dana wakes up to a blurry-faced Rufus leaning over her in the cornfield. He has come to take her out of the field, but not before she collapses in the dirt.
Back at the house, Dana fetches painkillers from her bag in the attic. Rufus confesses to Dana that he took out his anger over his father's death on her, but he also threatens to send her back to work in the fields if she defies him or walks away from him. Then he tells Dana that his mother, Margaret Weylin, is returning from her sister's house in Baltimore City. She'll need a slave to care for her and sleep in her room at night, as she's physically and mentally ill and addicted to laudanum, an opium-based medicine. Rufus wants Dana to be the one to nurse her. Dana protests—Margaret Weylin hates her, although they haven't seen each other in years—and suggests Alice instead. Alice is pregnant, however, so Rufus doesn't think she should be his mother's caretaker. Rufus tells Dana he'll consider what is best. He's still weak from his recent bout of illness. Rufus tells Dana to do whatever she wants for the rest of the day.
The title of this section alludes to ancient stories of floods, such as the biblical tale of Noah or the Mesopotamian story of Gilgamesh. The title resonates with power and a connection to the past.
Butler uses the symbols of home and weapons in these parts of "The Storm." The section begins with the word home used in a single-word sentence. Each major section of Kindred begins with Dana in her present timeline of 1976, at her new home in California. Each one ends with her leaving the past timeline because of some danger or violence that scares her home, so to speak. This home represents safety, material comforts, and protection from the horrors of slavery. Alternatively, and as a shock to Dana, the Weylin plantation also stirs feelings of home. When she goes back to antebellum Maryland, she approaches the plantation house and finds its shape "boxy and familiar." Dana feels like she has "come home." This emotion shocks her.
Dana puts the knife in her denim bag, ready for time travel. She thinks, "The knife was large and easily as deadly as the switchblade I had lost." She acknowledges that she has not had success using weapons and that such a thing could make her life as a slave worse. Yet she thinks, "Having one just made me feel safer." The knife represents a possible agent of defense for Dana should her time travel result in an event that makes her fear for her life.
The link between Kevin and the Weylins becomes more defined in these parts of "The Storm." Kevin, who has returned from five years spent in antebellum Maryland, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Maine, does not acclimate right away to the modern world. He has a slight accent, and Dana notes he sounds like Rufus and Tom Weylin, "just a little." The comparison resonates, linking Kevin to the slaveholders of the past and complicating the power structures between husband and wife. Dana notes that when Kevin shuts down, his expression looks like one of Tom Weylin's, "something closed and ugly."
The slavery motif, always present, is illuminated here through the birth of slave children and through Dana's experiences in the fields. Sons typically represent the line of inheritance. However, these sons—Nigel's boys and Rufus and Alice's son, Joe—have no rights, no freedom, and no inheritance. Rufus orders Dana to work in the fields, where the overseer motivates her with brutality. The overseer controls Dana with fear by way of the whip. She cringes and cowers at the sound of his voice and at the possibility of another blow. This motif threads throughout the novel and supports the themes of violence and power over versus power under.