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slaves] seemed to like [Rufus], hold him in contempt, and fear him
all at the same time. . . . I had thought my feelings were complicated
because he and I had such a strange relationship. But then, slavery
of any kind fostered strange relationships.”
This quotation, from part 11 of
“The Storm,” is inspired by the slaves’ behavior toward Rufus at
the husking party. Rufus has just doled out whiskey and good food.
The slaves shower Rufus with gratitude to his face and ridicule
him behind his back. Dana is surprised to find that the slaves feel
the same simultaneous and contradictory emotions toward Rufus that
she herself feels. They, like she, feel both affection and hatred
for Rufus. A lifetime of enslavement has beaten submissiveness into
the slaves, and they can’t help but appreciate the little scraps
Rufus throws them, the food and alcohol, the small mercies, the
occasional gesture of goodwill. At the same time, though, they despise
him. In the same way, Dana half-loves Rufus. She is grateful for
his occasional kindness, and she can’t help but feel affection for
him. At the same time, she loathes him. Dana recognizes in this
passage that she is not as different from the slaves as she thought
she was, at least in her attitude toward Rufus.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Kindred!