3 Examples of how is Rufus kind and caring? and 3 examples of how Rufus is cruel? Please include page numbers!

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Shannon Buckley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Octavia Butler's historical time-travel novel "Kindred," focuses on the fraught relationship between Dana (a black woman from 1976) and Rufus (a wealthy white person in the antebellum South, 150 years prior), who are distantly related. Through Dana's first-person perspective, we see Rufus grow up from a young and reckless boy into a complicated slave-owning man of his time. Whenever his life is in danger, Dana is summoned into the past to save him, ensuring that he will go on to father the child who will also be Dana's ancestor. Throughout these experiences, Dana tries to instill an anti-racist morality in Rufus, but he wavers between understanding and ignorance, attempted kindness and true cruelty.

Examples of Rufus being kind and caring:

  • Despite being confused and horrified by Dana and Kevin coming from the future, he promises them that he will keep their identities a secret and takes them in at the plantation, convincing his father to employ Kevin as a tutor, and assuring that Dana is given the least intensive work among the slaves. (Find this example in "The Fall chapter.)
  • While Kevin remains in the past and Dana goes back to the present, Rufus collects Kevin's letters to the plantation and saves them. When Dana returns, he gives the letters to her, which included all his various addresses over the five year absence. Rufus offers to mail the letters that Dana wrote (although we later find out he doesn't do this). (Find this example in "The Fight" chapter.)
  • After Dana is injured from working in the fields, Rufus gives her a new job caring for his mother (mostly reading to her and running errands), which is much easier work and gives her enough downtime for her wounds to heal. (Find this example in "The Storm" chapter.)

Examples of Rufus being cruel:

  • Despite promising Dana that he will send the letters she writes to Kevin, Rufus instead hides the letters and does not send them. Alice finds this out and tells Dana, who, feeling betrayed, tries to run away. (Find this example in "The Fight" chapter.)
  • When Rufus' father dies of a heart attack, Rufus is angry that Dana couldn't save him (the way she has saved Rufus many times over), and as punishment he sends her to work in the plantation fields where she is beaten and worked to exhaustion. (Find this example in "The Storm" chapter.)
  • Alice attempts to run away, and as punishment Rufus whips her and tells her that he sold her children away (which isn't true). As a result, Alice hangs herself. (Find this example in "The Rope" chapter.)
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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Rufus is cruel when he sets the curtains on fire, when he tries to rape Alice, and when he plans to buy Alice for himself, rather than letting her marry another.

Rufus is kind when he brings Dana a letter from Kevin, when he saves Dana from more beatings from Fowler, and when he tries to avoid selling any more slaves…though all of Rufus's acts of kindness are wrapped up with his cruelty.

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