Compare Rufus and his dad. Is Rufus an improvement over his father? How if at all, is Dana's influence evident on the adult Rufus?

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel "Kindred" by Octavia Butler, Dana is a Black woman shifting back and forth in time.  She soon realizes that when she is "called" back in time it is to rescue a boy, and later an adult, Rufus Weylin.  Rufus is a spoiled boy that seems to try and please Dana because he knows that she will "come" when he is in trouble.  As an adult, Rufus is "erratic, alternately generous and vicious."  He lies when necessary and tells people what they want to hear.  He is constantly getting into trouble, but if Dana is to protect her linage, she must protect Rufus.  Her influence does have an affect on him.  He is not as mean or ruthless toward the slaves as his father.  In fact he is in love with Alice.  The problem is the era in which he is raised.  Slaves are property.  He doesn't understand Dana's objections to how he treats his slaves.  He believes he is generous and overlooks many of their faults, but Dana tries to impress upon him it doesn't matter because they are still slaves.  She constantly tries to get Rufus to give them their freedom.

On the other hand, Tom Weylin is mean and ruthless.  He beats his slaves, he doesn't approve of them getting an education or eating at the same time as he does.  At one point Dana and Rufus are eating together and Rufus tells Dana,

"'Daddy'd do some cussin' if he came in here and found us eating together,' he said."

"I put my biscuit down and reined in whatever part of my mind I'd left in 1976.  He was right. 'What are you doing then? Trying to make trouble?'"

"No.  He won't bother us, Eat."

"The last time someone told me he wouldn't bother me, he walked in and beat the skin off my back."

"His father wasn't the monster he could have been, he wasn't a monster at all. Just an ordinary man who sometimes did the monstrous things his society said were legal and proper." (pg. 134)

Most of the differences between Rufus and his father are generational.  If Tom had had a black woman like Dana in his life he probably would have behaved differently.

Rufus also tells Dana that his father was fair, not likable but fair.  He said that it was important for Tom to keep his word when he gave it to a white man or a black man.  Rufus on the other had lied to Dana more than once.

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