Dana continues to try to shape Rufus into a better person than his father or the rest of Antebellum society want him to be. Rufus seems to feel guilty for what he has done to Alice , confirming that he did rape her but also getting angry that Alice would dare to prefer a black man over him. He daydreams aloud about the punishment that Alice and Isaac will receive for running off together, and Dana shudders that the young boy she knew has turned into this man.
Dana realizes that Rufus does love Alice, in his twisted fashion. Rufus still believes that he is a far better choice for Alice, because he has been conditioned to believe that white people are inherently superior than black people. Rufus tries to get up, but is in too much pain from his broken ribs to manage it. Dana agrees to go for help on the condition that Rufus does not betray Isaac and Alice. She reminds Rufus that they both have to rely on one another or else risk massive consequences, given that their relationship has life or death stakes.
Finally, Rufus agrees to say that white men attacked him and Dana goes to get Rufus help. Dana makes deals with Rufus that force Rufus to treat Dana as an equal rather than a slave meant to do his bidding. Dana and Rufus are linked together in a bond more complex than the master-slave relationship, as each has to depend on the other in order to survive. Dana heads off through the forest as night begins to fall, marking the trail back to Rufus with bits of paper.
She gets close enough to see the Weylin house in the distance and is startled to find that she feels as though she is coming home. She gently touches her still healing back to remind herself that this place is hostile. Though it has only been a few days for her, Dana begins to feel as though years have passed in her time as well. Dana has a complicated relationship to the Weylin house. It is a place that has caused her immense pain, but it also a place where she feels as though she belongs.
Dana is needed in the Weylin house, and has bonds with both Rufus and the other slaves as a kind of chosen family. Furthermore, this house is the last place that she saw Kevin — the person who most signifies home to Dana. Dana approaches the house, mentally preparing herself to see Tom Weylin , but is stopped by an unfamiliar white man. Dana explains that she is getting help for Rufus , and the white man mutters about worthless Rufus getting in trouble again. The man tells Dana to come into the house and Dana sees Carrie in the hall.
Carrie hugs Dana fiercely, making the white man suspicious again. Tom Weylin then comes out of the library and tells the white man, Jake , to send for the doctor, while Nigel takes the wagon and get Rufus. Butler points out that Rufus seems especially accident-prone, as Dana has had to come save him from potential death many more times than seems likely for most people.
Dana warns Tom that Rufus probably has broken ribs, but Tom is unconcerned and tells Dana to bandage them when Rufus gets here. Dana gets in the back of the wagon, and is surprised to see that Nigel has grown into the spitting image of Luke in the intervening years. Tom barks at Nigel and Dana to stop talking and asks Dana to give them directions to Rufus. Tom seems to believe that Dana has magical healing knowledge, though Dana only knows the basic first aid that average people know in This is still more than most people in the s understand about the human body, and so gives Dana an advantage to ensure that Rufus survives.
Nigel also greets Dana like family, welcoming her back to the plantation, while Tom gave her a very cold reception even though Dana is trying to help his son. The group finds Rufus with little difficulty. Nigel lifts Rufus carefully into the wagon and Dana feels his forehead, noticing he has a fever.
Once back at the house, Nigel carries Rufus up the stairs, while Tom calls Dana back. Tom also allows Dana to stay on the plantation as long as she works and helps Rufus.
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Dana hopes that Kevin will return at some point. Dana herself has no idea how she is traveling back in time, and Butler again gives no exact explanation for the fantastical elements of the novel. The time travel is a device Butler uses to explore her themes, rather than a major plot point. This duty, as well as the danger of a black woman traveling alone, keeps Dana from leaving the estate to search for Kevin.
Rufus thrashes on the bed and Dana decides to give him some of her aspirin from her emergency bag.
The members of the biological Weylin family do not care for each other as much as long-time house slaves like Sarah care for Rufus. Nigel comes up to tell Dana to call Sarah if she needs anything, and Dana welcomes his friendly presence. Just as interracial marriages are illegal at this time, slave marriages also did not have legal authority. Many slaves took to the tradition of jumping over a broom to symbolically mark their marriage, though they would never be legally allowed to marry.
Slave owners could sell husbands and wives away from each other on a whim, or separate a couple that they disliked if they wished.
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The next morning, Dana and Rufus eat breakfast together. Rufus is in a good mood, and chatters to Dana that she still looks so young. Rufus marvels that Dana would still be young even when he is an old man, but Dana warns him that he has to be more careful if he ever expects to grow old. With the power given to white men during this time, Tom is simply used to getting what he wants at all times. As their ages get closer and Rufus matures, he starts to see Dana as a potential friend and confidante rather than an awe-inspiring guardian.
In the most recent letter, Kevin says he is heading for Maine. Dana escapes down to the cookhouse.
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Kevin keeps going north, presumably looking for a society that looks more like in terms of freedom and equality for the genders and races. In the cookhouse, Dana angrily kneads dough for Sarah and catches up on the news of Margaret.
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After a hard pregnancy, Margaret gave birth to sickly twins who soon died. Margaret was in poor condition and her sister took her to Baltimore to heal. Nigel quietly tells her that Luke was sold, and says nothing more. Childbirth was an especially harrowing time for women in the Antebellum era, rendering them vulnerable to disease and death, as most doctors did not understand how to keep the mother safe during the birthing process. The Weylins continue to show no respect for the familial bonds among their slaves, as they sell Luke away from his son.
Rufus warns Dana not to end up the same way. Dana shudders to think of trying to escape from a Louisiana plantation, and wonders aloud why Nigel stayed. Rufus explains that Nigel did try to run, but Patrollers brought him back. Luke attempted to maintain his own agency by telling white people what they wanted to hear but acting on his own desires. Nigel also tried to find a kind of freedom, but is far more tied down to the Weylin estate now that he has a wife and expected child to care for.
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Rufus is intrigued by the pen and Dana allows him to look at the other things she brought from the present while she writes. Rufus starts to read a book on slavery Dana brought, calling it abolitionist trash. Dana explains that the book is just history, meant to tell what happened rather than persuade anyone to either side. While Dana tries to help Rufus gain a more modern mindset regarding respect for black people, it is dangerous to let Rufus know too much about how the course of history will play out.
Dana worries that Rufus will try to stop abolitionist figures or freedom fighters if he learns too much about their subversive actions during this time. Rufus brings up Denmark Vesey as an example of a former slave who tried to lead a slave revolt. Vesey a real historical figure was caught and executed.
Dana decides it probably is safer to burn the book.see
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She tears out the map of Maryland and throws the book on the fire, though this makes her think of Nazi book burnings. She then seals her letter to Kevin and hands it to Rufus to send. Dana is upset that Rufus is stooping to blackmail, and begins to gather her things. Dana again draws parallels between the tight control of information and knowledge among American slaves and the Nazi preoccupation with dictating what sort of literature and ideas people should be able to access. By controlling education, both American slave-owners and German Nazis were able to keep groups oppressed.
Rufus flaunts his own power over Dana by forcing her to burn the map. After five days, Isaac and Alice are caught. Unaware, Dana goes to help a young slave named Tess with the laundry. With Margaret gone, Sarah minds the house and manages much better than Margaret did. Sarah reminds Dana what happens to most slaves who escape and get caught. Sarah also works hard, and forces the other slaves to also for fear of what the Weylins would do to punish them all if any one slave was disobedient.
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Dana wants to give Sarah hope of freedom, telling her about books written by slaves who escaped and made it North. Dana looks down on Sarah until she sees Rufus come back with Alice. Sarah chooses to remain a slave rather than risk the awful punishments given to slaves who are caught trying to run away. Dana at first sees this as cowardly, but Butler points out that Sarah is making a conscious choice to keep herself and her daughter safe, and should actually be applauded for her strength in enduring the day-to-day horrors of living as a slave.
Rufus and Nigel return late that night, with Alice barely alive in the back of the wagon. Tom would never call the doctor to treat a black person, and the only other option is an elderly healer named Aunt Mary who barely remembers her name. Rufus is concerned that the lye and brine Dana uses to stop infection will hurt Alice worse, but he backs down when Dana shows him her own back where the whip scars are nearly healed. Butler again describes the physical torture that slaves endured, bearing witness to the pain of this era despite how uncomfortable the violence of this scene may be.
Dana has to hurt Alice even worse with lye and brine to keep her safe from potentially life-threatening infection later. Dog bites and whip lashes are not only terrible wounds, but open slaves up to a high risk of infection that could take their life even if they survive the initial beating.
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Dana has the advantage of 20th-century knowledge to tell Rufus that a small amount of extra pain now will save Alice later. Dana does what she can to help Alice , realizing that most of the wounds are dog bites and whip lashes. Rufus is angry that the Patrollers did so much damage, but has no sympathy for Isaac , who has been sold to Mississippi.
Dana asks if Rufus sent her letter and he replies yes. Dana is then shocked when Rufus climbs in bed with Alice, but Rufus promises not to touch her. Dana goes to bed in the attic, thinking that Rufus has been rewarded despite all the trouble he caused Alice and Isaac. Now that Rufus owns Alice, he seems to have no thought for whether Alice will actually be happy to live with a man who raped her—especially when her husband has been tortured and sold into one of the worst areas for plantation slaves.
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