Why does Rufus use Dana to get to Alice in Kindred?

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Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred is historical and science fiction. Our protagonist Dana travels from her current setting, California in 1976, back in time to 1815. In 1815, she finds herself on a slave plantation in Maryland with the Weylin family, a wealthy slave-owning family. As she learns more...

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Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred is historical and science fiction. Our protagonist Dana travels from her current setting, California in 1976, back in time to 1815. In 1815, she finds herself on a slave plantation in Maryland with the Weylin family, a wealthy slave-owning family. As she learns more about the time and people, she realizes that they are her relatives.

On her first trip to 1815, Dana rescues Rufus, a spoiled boy and son of the plantation's slave master, Tom Weylin. With each visit, she learns more about Rufus and has to deal with the treatment of slaves in the time. Dana often hates Rufus and his actions, but she also tries to help and understand him; she hopes that she can have an impact on him and make him a better person. This usually does not work out the way she wants.

Dana helps Rufus get to Alice because she knows her family line depends on it. She also believes that if she doesn’t help Rufus, he will just rape Alice. He tells her,

“Go to her. Send her to me. I'll have her whether you help or not. All I want you to do is fix it so I don't have to beat her. You're no friend of hers if you won't do that much!"

Rufus uses Dana to get to Alice because he knows that he can. He knows that Alice is not interested in him; in fact, she has flat out rejected his advancements, an embarrassment he can not tolerate. So, he uses Dana to influence Alice. He knows that Dana wants to write to her husband, Kevin and that she cares about Alice, and so Rufus uses this as a way to bargain with Dana.

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