Kindred

The Whip Symbol Icon

The whip represents the physical abuse of slavery and the psychological terror that enslaved people experienced from living in such horrible conditions. While many characters in the novel use weapons and inflict physical harm on one another, the whip is ultimately used only by white people for abuse and never for self-defense. Whipping thus represents the incredible imbalance of power between white and black people in the Antebellum South. White men who carry the whip, such as Tom Weylin and Evan Fowler, are symbolically past the hope of learning to regard black people as equals rather than objects or animals.

The disproportionate ability of white people to use the whip to enact violence against black people increases the emotional cost of these blows. While the wounds of whip lashes are already physically extensive, the fear of being whipped adds a powerful emotional component to the control of the enslaved characters at the Weylin plantation. Dana undergoes several whippings and sees how the constant threat of physical pain could push people into accepting the less extreme yet still damaging drudgery of slavery in order to avoid the physical abuse that the whip threatens. After being whipped for attempting to run away, Dana wonders if she has the strength to ever chase her freedom again, knowing the pain that the whip brings. Spending one day in the field, Dana learns the terror of the overseer who follows her with the whip and lashes out no matter how fast Dana is working. The whip gives the white masters complete control over the slaves and restrains their mental freedom as well as harming them physically.

The Whip Quotes in Kindred

The Kindred quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Whip. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Home Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Beacon Press edition of Kindred published in 2009.
Chapter 2: The Fire Quotes

I had seen people beaten on television and in the movies. I had seen the too-red blood substitute streaked across their backs and heard their well-rehearsed screams. But I hadn't lain nearby and smelled their sweat or heard them pleading and praying, shamed before their families and themselves. I was probably less prepared for the reality than the child crying not far from me. In fact, she and I were reacting very much alike.

Related Characters: Dana (Edana) Franklin (speaker), Alice Jackson (Greenwood)
Related Symbols: The Whip
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Chapter 4: The Fight Quotes

His father wasn't the monster he could have been with the power he held over his slaves. He wasn't a monster at all. Just an ordinary man who sometimes did the monstrous things his society said were legal and proper. But I had seen no particular fairness in him. He did as he pleased. If you told him he wasn't being fair, he would whip you for talking back.

Related Characters: Dana (Edana) Franklin (speaker), Rufus Weylin, Tom Weylin
Related Symbols: The Whip
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Whip Symbol Timeline in Kindred

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Whip appears in Kindred. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Fire
Family and Home Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...his money. But once Rufus set the fire, he got scared that his father would whip him again and actually kill him this time. As the story comes out, Dana determines... (full context)
Family and Home Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
...that it explains Rufus’s callous attitude towards black people and his father’s use of a whip. (full context)
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
One of the white men gets a whip from a bag on his horse and starts to whip the black man. The black... (full context)
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Desperate to think of anything but the whipping happening in front of her, Dana thinks of the name for the white men who... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Fall
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
6. Dana is as careful as possible, especially after witnessing Tom whip a field hand for talking back. The harsh punishment serves as a warning to all... (full context)
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...they want to hear while doing what she wants to do. Tom often threatens to whip Luke, but rarely does so. Dana even sees Tom in the hall one morning as... (full context)
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...say that the plantation is better than he expected, though he doesn’t know about the whipping that Dana witnessed. Dana is angry, responding that the Weylins don’t have to beat their... (full context)
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
Once in the yard, Tom begins to whip Dana. The leather sears through her light shirt, feeling like hot iron. Dana screams and... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Fight
Family and Home Theme Icon
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
...treat the lacerations without getting an infection. She thinks of the field hand she saw whipped who had brine thrown in his wounds and was able to heal without infection, but... (full context)
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
...Alice worse, but he backs down when Dana shows him her own back where the whip scars are nearly healed. (full context)
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Family and Home Theme Icon
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...what she wants, but consider her options carefully. Alice can go to Rufus willingly, be whipped and raped, or run away. (full context)
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
As the horse nears the Weylin house, Rufus tells Dana that she’ll have to be whipped again. Dana nearly slides off the horse in her attempt to get away, but Rufus... (full context)
Interracial Relationships Theme Icon
History and Trauma Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
When the whipping is finally over, Rufus carefully unties Dana and takes her into Carrie and Nigel’s cabin.... (full context)
Family and Home Theme Icon
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...field hands, but losing an argument with Nigel has left him testy. Wary of Jake’s whip, Dana goes out to do the washing despite the pain in her back. Alice comes... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Storm
Freedom and Privilege Theme Icon
Choice and Power Theme Icon
...one stalk and doesn’t manage to cut it all the way through. Fowler brings the whip down on Dana’s back, then again across her breasts when Dana whirls around in pain.... (full context)
History and Trauma Theme Icon
...Fowler will just expect her to go faster, but Dana is too wary of Fowler’s whip to risk slowing down. Yet after hours of work, it is less painful to let... (full context)