Slaves in the 1800s were treated harshly. Their lives were hard. Family members were sold away from their families. Alice's father works on a different plantation, and he was beaten for going to see his wife without permission. White masters could do whatever they wanted with their slaves, and many had children by their female slaves. Trying to escape meant a beating or death, as happens when Alice tries to escape with Isaac. Nothing happens to Rufus for raping Alice even though she was a free black.
I have one quibble with bmadnick's response: Alice's father belonged to Tom.
I think slaves lived in hazardous conditiong and were treated un fair... unhumane, for example in the novel kindred they stated that slaves who worked in the field slept in house that were scatterd all throughout the plantation that was infested with fleas and ticks opposing to the in house slaves who sleep in the addict with little cots on the floor. overall the way people were treated during the slavery epidemic