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Dana is the narrator and heroine of the novel. A young
black woman writer living in the end of the twentieth century, she
finds herself plunged into the antebellum South of the nineteenth
century, an alien world in which she must struggle to establish
an identity and to maintain her freedom. Dana must also battle her
conscience. Only if Rufus, her forebear, survives will she herself
live, so she must constantly save him. At the same time, she wonders
if she is morally bound to let him die, thereby helping dozens of
slaves. Further complicating matters are her feelings of genuine
affection for Rufus. She likes him, despite his cruelty to her and
her friends. Each time Dana saves Rufus’s life, he strips her of
another piece of her dignity, which forces her to think about her
own limits. By the end of the novel, she discovers that she is willing
to kill to defend herself against rape.
Dana claims that her marriage to Kevin is sound, and that
as a couple they have not been harmed by their travels to the South.
Still, while they are there and when she talks to him about her
experiences there, she finds that a wall springs up between them.
Kevin cannot understand everything Dana tries to tell him about
her life in the South as a slave, but Dana accepts his limited understanding. Although
she knows that he is an imperfect husband and person, she is committed
to him as the man she has chosen to live her life with. Dana’s identity
as a writer is just as important to her as her identity as a wife.
She finds that while there are things she can’t share with Kevin,
there is nothing she can’t write about.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Kindred!