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“I could recall walking along the narrow dirt road that ran past the Weylin house and seeing the house, shadowy in twilight, boxy and familiar . . . I could recall feeling relief at seeing the house, feeling that I had come home. And having to stop and correct myself, remind myself that I was in an alien, dangerous place.”
This quotation comes from part 1 of “The Storm.” Dana has just returned from months in the South; Kevin has returned from a five-year stint there. Both characters feel dislocated, as if they have forsaken their real home, Maryland, for a place they no longer recognize. While Dana’s disorientation is not as a severe as Kevin’s—he can’t remember how to operate household items, and his accent has changed—she shares his discomfort with the modern era. More disturbingly, she shares his sense that the Weylin house has become home. Dana’s increasing familiarity with the Weylin plantation accompanies her decreasing independence. The more time she spends in Maryland, the less she thinks of herself as her own person. In Maryland, everyone around her sees her as a slave—a slave with special privileges and otherworldly powers, but a slave nonetheless. Over time, Dana finds herself in danger of accepting the identity that has been forced on her. In part, this is a matter of survival. She can’t behave as a modern woman would and still hope to avoid death. But in part, Butler suggests, it is a matter of place. Conformity is unavoidable, and we can conform to almost any place, no matter how unfamiliar or brutal. Before Dana knows it, her fear of the Weylin house has changed from instinctual to intellectual. Fear becomes something she knows she should feel but does not actually feel.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Kindred!