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When Dana awakes, she is bleeding and riding along on
the back of Rufus’s horse. He stops, wipes her face, and unties
her after she promises not to struggle. He puts her in front of
him on the horse. He tells her to lean on him before she falls off,
and she does. As they approach the house, Rufus tells her she will
be whipped. Once off the horse, Dana resists, terrified, scratching
and bruising Rufus, Weylin, and Edwards. Weylin ties her up, strips
off her clothes, and beats her senseless. Dana tries to time travel
by telling herself that her life is in danger, but in her heart
she knows that Weylin is punishing her, not killing her. Rufus asks
Carrie and Alice to care for Dana. Dana wonders whether she will
find the strength to run away again. She realizes that despite her
superior education, she managed to escape only for a few hours,
while Alice escaped for days.
It turns out that Liza, the cleaning woman, was the one
who told Weylin about Dana’s attempt to escape. She did it because
she hates Alice, and Dana saved Alice’s life. The other slaves beat
Liza badly to punish her for betraying Dana.
Rufus shows Dana a letter Kevin sent to Weylin. In it,
Kevin says he is coming, and asks Weylin to convey the news to Dana.
Rufus says his father wrote to Kevin when he found out that Rufus
had not sent Dana’s letters. Weylin felt bound to do so because
of Rufus’s promise to Dana. Dana tells Rufus that she already knew
he didn’t mail the letters. He says he didn’t mail them because
he doesn’t want Kevin to come and take her North. Dana reflects
that Rufus loves her because she cares about him. She wonders why
she does not hate him, as Alice does, and why she keeps forgiving
him. Despite her fondness for Rufus, she thinks she would kill him
if he tried to rape her.
Rufus says Weylin is the only man he knows who keeps promises faithfully
to both blacks and whites. Dana advises him to emulate that quality.
One day when Weylin and Rufus are in town, Edwards orders
Dana to do the wash. This is usually the job of Tess, who was Weylin’s bedmate
until he tired of her and passed her on to Edwards. But today, Tess
will be sent out to the fields. Dana knows that doing the wash will
hurt her back, but she complies when Edwards threatens to whip her.
Alice offers to help. Just then, Kevin rides up. He is furious to
hear about the whipping Weylin gave her, and he wants revenge. Dana
convinces him they should leave. She turns to say goodbye to Alice,
but Alice refuses to acknowledge her. On the road, Dana and Kevin
run into Rufus. When they won’t agree to stay, he turns a gun on
them. Dana provokes him until he is on the brink of shooting her.
At the last moment, Kevin falls on Dana.
Tom Weylin is not a completely evil person. Many men in
his position would have thought nothing of breaking a promise to
Dana—particularly a promise made by someone else. But Weylin does
not care to whom Rufus gave his word. What matters is that Rufus’s word,
once given, is kept. Weylin knows that when Kevin returns, he is
likely to take Dana away with him. Keeping Rufus’s word, then, means
indirectly helping Dana flee, the very act for which Weylin whipped
her. Keeping Rufus’s word also means losing a hard worker. Despite
these outcomes, which are undesirable for Weylin, Weylin writes
to Kevin. His motives are not pure. He certainly does not care about
Dana’s happiness, and he may write partly from a conviction that
he should help Kevin locate a woman he considers Kevin’s property.
And Weylin is by no means a good man. He punishes slaves severely
and brutally, and he has sex with whichever women he pleases, discarding
them when he is sated. Yet despite his numerous shortcomings, in
this section he comes across as a more honorable man than Rufus.
Alice functions as a mirror for Dana, and Butler creates
notable similarities between them. Alice is Dana’s ancestor, and
the two women look alike. Both earn Liza’s enmity. Both are loved
by Rufus. Both control him to some extent but must submit to his
will more often than not. Both are involved with white men, Dana
by choice and Alice by necessity. Both are born free and become
slaves on the Weylin plantation. But because they were born generations
apart, the differences between the two women are just as prominent
as the similarities. Alice has been shaped by her time period, just
as Dana has been shaped by hers. Alice has been deprived of an education and
basic human rights; Dana has been educated and allowed to control
her own life. While Alice has a natural fighting spirit, the brutality
of her life has broken her down. More than a mirror for Dana, she
is like a funhouse mirror, a reflection of the depressed, embittered
woman Dana would be had she been warped by a lifetime of struggling
in antebellum Maryland. Yet the longer Dana stays in the past, the
more closely she comes to resemble Alice. After her failed attempt
to escape, she, too, loses much of her rebellious spirit. And as
time goes by, her origins in the 1970s stop
mattering as much to Rufus, and she begins to lose her sway over
While Rufus’s treatment of Dana continues to worsen, he
still affords her some measure of respect. There are several reasons
for this. When Rufus and Dana first met, he was a child and she
was an adult, and some vestige of his boyish regard for her authority
lingers. She is the sole person in his life who tells it like it
is, chastising him when he behaves badly and trying to mold his
character. In many ways, she is a better mother to him than Margaret
Weylin is. Also, Rufus knows that Dana is sent back in time to save
his life. He appreciates what she has done for him in the past and
likely worries that she will stop saving him in the future if he
alienates her. Although Dana’s increasingly lengthy stays in Maryland
make her a familiar figure to Rufus, her ability to time travel
still gives her an aura of otherworldliness that inspires respect.
Most of all, Rufus loves Dana. At least some of his most dreadful
behavior is inspired by that love. He threatens to kill her, for
example, because he is so panicked at the thought of losing her.
Butler does not suggest that Rufus’s passionate attachment to Dana
excuses his bad behavior; she merely suggests that it explains it.
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