HomeLiterature Study GuidesKindredThe Storm Parts 7 13 Summary

Kindred | Study Guide

Octavia Butler

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Kindred | The Storm, Parts 7–13 | Summary

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Summary

Part 7

Margaret Weylin, older and gentler, chooses Dana to be her caregiver because she remembers how Dana used to read to Rufus. Dana has to sleep on her floor, but the work is lighter, even if Margaret Weylin babbles and annoys her. Dana relaxes into life on the plantation until she notices the other slaves seem cold and distant, even Alice. Dana wonders when she stopped pretending and actually began to live here as if it were real.

One day, after hearing some slaves in the cookhouse talk about the possibility of being sold, Dana passes a line of slaves in chains being marched down the road. The slaves in the cookhouse had apparently known about a real slave sale, but Dana had not. Dana follows them back to the Weylin plantation. By the time she catches up, three slaves from the Weylin plantation have been added to the coffle. Very upset at recognizing Tess as one of the sold slaves, Dana almost grabs Tess out of the line, but Rufus whisks her into the house before she touches Tess.

Dana angrily accuses Rufus of becoming like his father. Rufus explains to Dana that Tom Weylin made arrangements for the sale before he died.

Part 8

Dana regrets not having killed Rufus; she tells Carrie how she feels. Using gestures to respond, Carrie explains to Dana that if Rufus dies, then everyone on the plantation will be sold and separated from their families.

Dana tells Carrie she is saddened by the other slaves' accusations; they believe she is acting like a white person. Carrie rubs her face to reassure Dana. Not understanding Carrie's gesture, Dana finds Nigel, who explains Carrie's meaning: Dana's skin color does not rub off, and she should not care what others say about her.

Part 9

Rufus and Dana avoid each other for a few days. One morning, while Dana is coaxing Margaret Weylin to eat her breakfast, Rufus asks Dana to speak with him in the library. They threaten each other at first. Dana says she will let Rufus die when he needs her again, and Rufus threatens to send Dana to work in the fields. Rufus doesn't want to hurt Dana at the moment, however; he wants her to write business letters for him. His father was good with money, but he left debts in the wake of his death. Rufus attempts to bribe Dana with a stack of paper, which was very expensive in the 1800s, and tells her she may use it to write stories. Rufus says he hopes he doesn't need to sell any additional slaves. Dana considers his offer.

Part 10

One night, while Dana and Alice eat dinner in Alice's cabin, Rufus comes in and, seeing them together, says, "Behold the woman." When Rufus leaves, Alice wants to know if he ever takes Dana to bed. Dana tells Alice that she and Rufus don't have a sexual relationship. Alice brings up how she and Dana look alike and how Rufus sees them as two halves of one woman.

Part 11

Time passes as Dana waits for Alice to have her baby, whom Dana hopes will be her ancestor, Hagar. The slaves, including Alice and Dana, get to have a party while they husk corn and a feast afterward. Dana explains to the reader how slaves jump over a broom in their wedding ceremonies. Later, at a Christmas party, Rufus asks Dana if she misses Kevin or if she has found someone on the plantation she wants to "jump the broom with." What if she has? Dana wants to know. Rufus tells her he would sell the slave, then he glances at a man he saw flirting with Dana during the cornhusking. Dana worries about the man and reminds herself to tell Sarah to warn him.

Dana has been helping Rufus with his business endeavors, and they are getting on each other's nerves. Fortunately, Alice has asked Rufus to let Dana teach their child, Joe. Dana sparks Rufus's interest in Joe when she tells him the little boy is smart.

Alice wants Rufus to free Joe—officially, in writing—and the child she is carrying. Rufus agrees, but only if Alice acts like she likes—or even loves—him. Dana believes Rufus will do it, but Alice doesn't trust Rufus. She tells Dana she wants to run away after the baby is born. Dana doesn't like the idea of Alice being caught by a patrol or a mob of dogs while escaping with a young child and a baby, but Dana agrees to help Alice with supplies or anything else she may need.

Part 12

Alice gives birth to a girl, and she names the baby Hagar. Feeling "almost free, half-free if such a thing was possible, half-way home," Dana teases Alice about the names she has chosen for her children—Joseph, Miriam, Aaron, and Hagar—and how, sometime in the future, Rufus may become religious and ponder the names of his children after reading the Bible. The birth of her ancestor Hagar excites Dana, but she manages to keep what she knows of the future to herself.

When the baby is only a few weeks old, Alice confides in Dana that she still plans to run away—maybe very soon. Rufus tells Dana that he wants to free the children and send Joe to school in the North. Dana relays this information to Alice, but Alice says the promise is good only if it's written on paper. She doesn't trust Rufus, and she cannot bear how he uses her children to control her. She will run away, she tells Dana, and so Dana gives Alice the laudanum she will need to keep the baby quiet while in hiding.

Part 13

Rufus allows Dana to teach Nigel's children while she is teaching Joe. Alice seems more subdued, but her guilt causes her to lash out at Dana, who wants Alice to wait until summer before running away. Sam James, the slave who flirted with Dana at the cornhusking, approaches Dana and asks if she will teach his brother and sister to read. Dana says she will ask permission, but she warns him to stay away from her, alluding to Rufus's jealousy over her. Rufus sells Sam three days later; his wife and children watch the coffle and weep. Dana begs Rufus to reconsider, saying there is no need for him to sell Sam, and Rufus hits her, something he has never done. Rufus has crossed a line in their relationship; Dana runs to the attic, carrying a warm water basin, and slits her wrists.

Analysis

The complexity of relationships between slaves and owners is evident in these parts of "The Storm." Dana observes that during the cornhusking and Christmas parties, the slaves appear to "like [Rufus], hold him in contempt, and fear him all at the same time." He sets up a brutal day with the overseer for Dana because he has to blame someone for his father's death. Yet a few days after the sale of three slaves, including Tess, Rufus makes a peace offering by providing Dana with a gift—paper—and the opportunity to act as his secretary. Dana's acceptance of this job parallels her refusal to type pages for Kevin. She has the power to refuse this task only in her own time.

Dana and Alice have a layered relationship that Rufus exposes when he says they are "one woman." Alice speaks horribly to Dana, calling her "white nigger" and outwardly saying she does not want to be like Dana—a "yes-ma'am" type who obediently follows every command of the whites. For this reason, Alice wants to run before she begins to accept, or even like, Rufus. Dana and Alice are alike in this manner, as Dana has begun to wonder if she is getting used to being submissive. Also, Alice and Dana look similar, and their relationship is very sisterlike—one woman dominates the other at times, each coming back for more because of their kinship ties.

The maps symbol is conveyed through Joe. He is an eager and quick student under Dana's tutelage, something that sparks Rufus's interest in the boy. When they review a map, Joe wants to draw in a river to make the map "right." Rufus shoos the boy for being too inquisitive. This scene, one marked by the master and slave, father and son, represents how Joe may escape slavery someday—through an accurate map directing him safely to the North, or through a certificate of freedom signed by his father, who is also his owner.

Dana slits her wrists to escape antebellum Maryland in this section. The motif of self-inflicted wounds supports the themes of violence. She is willing to chance death and be violent to her own body in order to get back to 1976. It is her only way to assert power when she witnesses slaves like Sam being sold for nothing more than a little flirting.

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