What are the similarities between Dana's relationship with Rufus and her relationship with Kevin in "Kindred"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The similarities between Dana's relationships with Kevin and Rufus are surprisingly many.  Both are white men in love with her, and in the early nineteenth century they are both her protectors by virtue of their sex and race.  Dana depends on each of them at different times.  She relies on Rufus to orient her in the world of the past where she is so abruptly thrust, and of Kevin she says, "He was my anchor here in my own time" (Rope 2).

Although Dana depends on both Kevin and Rufus, each of them abandon her at one time or another.  Rufus allows his father to beat her, and sends her out to slave in the fields when he is angry, and Kevin, traumatized by his experience in the past, leaves Dana to return again on her own.  Both men in turn have a deep need for Dana.  Kevin says, "Just keep coming home...I need you here" (Fire 6), and Rufus pleads in desperation, "What am I going to do when you go home?" (Rope 4).

Rufus and Kevin are both white males, and there are things about Dana as a member of an oppressed race that are beyond their grasp.  Kevin does not comprehend that in the context of slavery Dana's strongest reason for denying Rufus as a lover is because she will not allow herself to be treated as property.  Rufus does not understand that Dana, even if circumstances were different, "could accept him as (her) ancestor...brother...friend, but not as (her) master, and not as (her) lover" (Rope 4).

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