Dana is first called upon to save the life of the young Rufus after he nearly drowns in a river. This is the first time Dana is transported to the 19th century and she has no idea who Rufus is. For the first time, Dana actually comes in contact with the boy who will change her life forever and be the link between her and her ancestors. As time goes on, Dana grows up with Rufus and becomes almost a mentor to him. Dana is the one who teaches Rufus how to read and write. Rufus really accepts Dana as his friend and he helps her avoid regular slave treatment and beatings by his father, Tom Weylin. As they grow older Rufus will become very dependent of Dana and Dana will also be very dependent on Rufus. Over the next 20 years Dana will be called upon by some supernatural force to save Rufus, who she grows to both love and hate. Rufus transforms throughout time from being a lovable young boy, to a hated slave owner just like his father.
Dana attempts to save Rufus from the wicked mentality of a white slave owner in the South during the early years of the 19th century. Her attempts will bring the relationship between these characters very close and will ultimately lead in the death of one of them. The relationship between Rufus and Dana plays a vital role in all major aspects of the novel. Rufus’s personality and actions are very unpredictable at some points in the story. He can go from very concerned and compassionate towards Dana, but he can instantly change into being a very dangerous threat to Dana. Rufus many times comes very close to injuring or even killing Dana, but she avoids being assaulted by him. Dana is a much wiser than Rufus and she has a very powerful influence of the decisions that Rufus makes. When Dana is called to save Rufus after he is severely beaten by Alice’s husband, who is a slave, Dana talks Rufus into not turning him in and to tell his father he was attacked by white men. By doing this Dana is allowing Alice and her husband time to runaway.
This is very difficult for Rufus to do because he is so attached to Alice that he doesn’t want her to go. This influence that she has over Rufus makes allows her to almost have a position of power over Rufus. The relationship between Rufus and Dana in Kindred goes against every expectation that a person would have of a black woman and a white man in the antebellum South. They rely on each other in a time period when African Americans weren’t even thought of as people. Dana is looked at by other slaves on the Weylin’s plantation as a “white nigger” (Butler 160). How could the relationship between Dana and Rufus be so affable when he would become the rapist of her innocent ancestor? Well, not everything between Dana and Rufus ends up being so practical. As Rufus grows older in time, his love for Dana also grows. The desire he once showed toward Alice is slowly converting into a desire to want to possess Dana.
Dana recognizes how Rufus is becoming a more controlling figure towards her and she realizes that she is in danger. When Rufus finally can’t take his desire for Dana, he attempts to rape her and this is when Dana finally turns on Rufus and kills him. The relationship between Dana and Rufus is one that many Americans of the 19th and 20th century would view as unbelievable. How could Rufus, a white slave owner, fall in love with a black woman in the 19th century when he is supposed to uphold a house of slaves and beat and abuse them? The relationship brings you through a rollercoaster ride, where you many times are confused on what to think about the connection between Rufus and Dana. At many instances you feel like this is a truly passionate friendship but the next thing you know, you want Dana to just be safe at home and not ever have to come in contact with Rufus.