In Kindred, Dana takes on a leadership role in relationship to both Rufus Weylin and Alice, as well as directing Kevin’s behavior toward Rufus. She does so because she realizes the need to direct their behavior in the past in order to ensure that she will be born in her own time. This realization makes her resolved to take charge of the situation, to the extent possible, by caring for the boy: “This child needed special care. If I was to live … he must live.”
She assumes the role of “guardian” to Rufus while acknowledging how difficult it will be for any Black person to look out for a white child. The limited success of her efforts at leadership is shown through Rufus’s attempt to rape her as well as his insistence on dominating and abusing Alice, who takes her own life. Dana finds herself torn between her responsibility to ensure her own survival and her desire to help the enslaved people on the plantation.
An ironic instance of her leadership occurs after she realizes that Rufus cannot be deterred from his intention to have a sexual relationship with Alice. Dana shows leadership, in a way, by persuading Alice that acting compliant to Rufus’s advances would protect her from the physical violence he would inflict when he raped her.