What role does Rufus' mom have in the formation of his character in "Kindred"? Is he influenced by her? If so, how?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Margaret Weylin is fiercely protective of Rufus when he is a child, and jealous when he shows more interest in others besides her.  Not wanting to lose his affectiion, she is permissive and allows him to treat her cruelly, fostering in him an unhealthy concept of the nature of love.  Dana remarks, "if (Rufus) couldn't get what he wanted from her gently, he stopped being gentle.  Why not?  She always forgave him" (Storm 6).  Rufus's sense of entitlement and his attitude towards women is rooted firmly in the indulgence with which his mother raised him, and exacerbated by the social climate of the times which allowed the complete power the white master held over his slaves.  When he cannot win Alice's affection, Rufus tries to rape her anyway, and gains possession of her by setting into motion a chain of events by which her husband is removed from the picture.  Rufus has learned that if he is insistent enough he can eventually get what he wants.  It worked with his mother, and in the case of Alice, "he cause(s) her trouble, and...(is) rewarded for it" (Fight 8)

Rufus's inherent goodness is tainted because, never having been denied by his mother, he is a slave to his own caprices.  Dana tells him, "You wouldn't hurt me until something frustrated you, made you angry or jealous...until someone hurt you" (Rope 4).  Rufus can get almost anything he wants in life, except for the thing he craves most - the love of another, freely given.