What are 3 examples of how is Rufus kind and caring and 3 examples of how Rufus is cruel in Kindred? Please include page numbers.

Rufus is a complex character. He demonstrates a great capacity for care and love towards people including Dana and Alice, but he also displays an equal propensity for cruelty, especially towards Alice.

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Rufus is a rounded character that offers Kindred readers a lot of complexity. One reason for this complexity is because he is both caring towards characters such as Dana and Alice but also relentlessly cruel towards them.

When we look at his caring nature, much of it is illustrated throughout...

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his youth.

  • Early in the novel, in chapter 2 of "The Fire," a young Rufus goes out of his way to help Dana get to Alice's house and help her stay out of trouble. With a sense of urgency, he grips Dana's arm and tells her that she has to address him formally. However, he doesn't do it out of arrogance but rather because "you'll get into trouble if you don't. If Daddy hears." As he helps her escape to Alice's house, Dana notes that "he seemed excited and pleased." These two moments show that Rufus does care about other people and wishes to help them.
  • Rufus also demonstrates his caring nature in chapter 5 of "The Fall." Throughout this section of the novel, Rufus requests that Dana read to him. At first, Dana is hesitant, as she is aware that Mrs. Weylin doesn't like her and wouldn't approve. Once she says this, Rufus says, "Maybe you better not read though. I forget to listen to her when you read." This shows that Rufus is capable of valuing Dana's safety over his own desires.
  • When it comes to Alice, especially, Rufus demonstrates a certain amount of love towards the girl and is sometimes seen as caring towards her. In chapter 9 of "The Fight," we see that he allows her to heal in his own bed, promising not to touch the battered woman as "it would be like hurting a baby." He talks about his love of Alice on numerous occasions throughout the novel.

However, Rufus also has a great propensity to be cruel, and even the ways in which he loves people are often twisted into acts of extreme violence and callousness.

  • In the case of Alice, in the same breath of talking about his great love for her in chapter 9 of "The Fight," he says, "Maybe I can't ever have that—both wanting, both loving. But I'm not going to give up on what I can have," implying that he plans to rape Alice (which he later does). He then goes on to threaten Dana to help him win her affections by threatening to make Dana watch "while Jake Edwards beats some sense into" Alice.
  • He is known to break his promises to Dana—in particular, the promise to send her letters to Kevin. In chapter 15 of "The Fight," Dana confronts him about not sending these letters. This shows how his love and desire to protect Dana is twisted into cruelty. He reveals that he lied to Dana, effectively preventing her from reconnecting with Kevin out of selfishness as he wanted to keep her at the Weylin plantation and feared that Kevin would take her North.
  • Perhaps the most visceral moment which demonstrates his cruelty is at the end of the novel in chapter 4 of "The Rope," when Rufus attempts to rape Dana until she stops hating it, as he perceived Alice had. He then grabs her, trying to force her to stay with him until her arm is torn off (she was time traveling at the same time).

Much of this shows how Rufus is seemingly incapable of showing genuine affections towards people in an appropriate and loving way. He is from a world where he is able to take what he wants, and he does so time and time again, under the misguided notion that he is showing love towards them. As he grows older, he becomes more and more like his father in that he more and more inflicts his will on others whether they want it or not. However, unlike his father, Rufus's cruelty goes beyond of apathetic physical violence towards his slaves and enters into the realm of psychological and passionate cruelty.

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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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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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