Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 16, 2022
December 9, 2022
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Rufus is the prime embodiment of this theme. When we first
meet Rufus, he is a young boy. While his race and gender alone give
him some measure of authority, his youth renders him relatively
powerless, and at this stage in his life, Rufus is a humane, compassionate soul.
Despite being bombarded by the message that his skin makes him superior
to all African-American people, Rufus’s instinctive moral sense
tells him that Alice and Nigel are worthy of his respect and friendship.
Yet Rufus’s good instincts prove no match for the power he is given.
When he comes into his inheritance and becomes a slave owner, Rufus
begins to believe that he has a right to control the lives of others,
mete out punishments, and have all of his demands satisfied. A small
tyrant, he turns on his friends and elders, abusing Alice and treating
Nigel as a subordinate. Like his son Rufus, Tom Weylin succumbs
to the corrupting influence of his authority. We never see Weylin
as a child, so we don’t know whether his instincts are as sound
as his son’s. However, we do see him devolve from a routinely brutal
master who uses violence to keep order into a capricious despot
who whips slaves for tiny offenses such as talking back to him.
With power comes the desire for more power and the conviction that
one deserves all the power one accrues. Rufus and Weylin—and men
like Jake Edwards and the doctor—don’t consider the possibility
that they are benefiting from the wrongheaded conventions of an
unjust society. Rather, they convince themselves that they are deserving
of the power that falls into their laps.
In Butler’s novel, family ties keep slaves in one place,
which makes familial love a tool of those who seek to oppress. The
slaves know that if they displease the Weylins in any way, the Weylins
might retaliate by selling them away from their families. This is
what happens to Sam, who is sold away from his family for the crime
of speaking to Dana. The Weylins also encourage family ties as a
way to bind the slaves more closely to the plantation. They don’t
trust Nigel until he marries Carrie and begins a family. By settling
down, Nigel weds himself to the plantation and his life there. He
loves his wife and children and wants to support them, so he is
less likely to run away, rebel, or plan subversive actions. Sarah,
too, is held hostage by her love for Carrie. Weylin knows he could
get a good price for Carrie, but she is more valuable to him on
the plantation. Not only does Carrie work hard, but she also inspires
Sarah to work hard; as long as she has Carrie to protect, Sarah
will stay on the plantation and follow Weylin’s orders. Alice is
bound to the plantation—and to life—solely by her children. Once
Rufus tells her he has sold her children, she has no family to hold
her, and she promptly escapes by taking her own life. Family ties
account, in part, for Dana’s loyalty to Rufus. Although Rufus mistreats
her cruelly, Dana cannot help continuing to save his life. She feels
a familial bond to him, and moreover, because he is her ancestor,
she must save him to safeguard her own life. Family connections
are one of the few sources of joy in the lives of the slaves Butler
depicts. At the same time, though, family ties are what force the
slaves to remain on the plantation, which is the source of their
Ace your assignments with our guide to Kindred!