Kindred

Kindred Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kevin and Dana fly to Maryland as soon as Dana’s arm is healed enough. They drive into Easton, the city near the Weylin plantation, noting all the modern changes. Rufus’s house is no longer there, and is covered over by a corn field. Dana tries to locate Rufus’s grave, but finds only a newspaper article about Rufus’s death in a fire that destroyed the Weylin house. The article also includes a list of the Weylin slaves, including everyone that Dana met in the past except Nigel, Carrie, Joe, and Hagar. Dana decides that Nigel must have set the fire, then escaped with Carrie, Joe, and Hagar to live with Margaret in Baltimore.
Dana is not able to get full closure on the events that happened in the past. Similarly, many descendants of enslaved peoples will never know exactly what their ancestors’ lives were like, and will not be able to answer the many questions of their own family history. As Nigel, Carrie, Joe, and Hagar are not listed as slaves, Dana can only hope that Nigel and Carrie raised Joe and Hagar in freedom. As much as Dana owes a debt to Alice for enduring pain to conceive Hagar in the first place, she is also indebted to the sacrifices that Nigel made for her family at the cost of his own happiness.
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At the Historical Society of Baltimore, Kevin and Dana research any mention of Margaret and Hagar together in Baltimore. Dana hopes that Margaret accepted Joe and Hagar as her grandchildren. Kevin laments that Rufus did not make a will to free his slaves, but Dana confesses that Rufus never made that will for fear of what Dana would do. Kevin assures Dana that she never would have been capable of killing Rufus except in self-defense.
Dana and Kevin still wish that they could have done more to help the slaves on the Weylin estate. Dana carries survivor’s guilt for escaping that life when the other slaves were not able to do so, especially because she thinks that Rufus may have made a will if he were not scared of her. Yet Rufus might have been far worse to his slaves without Dana’s presence in his life. Kevin supports Dana by helping her find out about her family history, offering a true partner’s support instead of Rufus’s twisted version of love.
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Dana sighs, regretting the pain that her trips to the past caused for Nigel, Sarah, and the others. Kevin reminds her that there’s nothing they can do now. They look at the records, appreciating the solid evidence that these people existed and that their trips to the Weylin plantation were not crazy delusions. Dana looks back to the Historical Society building, but Kevin looks forward toward a future free of Rufus and the past.
Butler gently argues that Dana could not have done anything to change history, simply allowing Dana and Kevin to bear witness to the pain of the past and hope for a better future. While Kevin symbolically looks forward, dreaming of living unencumbered by this history of suffering, Dana looks backward – tied forever to that trauma in her skin and her lost arm as reminders of everything her ancestors survived.
Themes
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Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
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