Kindred : Character Profiles
Alice is the childhood friend, then the adult mistress, of Rufus Weylin. She is born a free black, but after she tries to run away with her “legal” husband, a slave named Isaac, she is bought by Rufus. He forces her to become his mistress, and she gives birth to four children. Two of them survive: Joe and Hagar, who will become Dana’s grandmother.
Alice’s mother is a free black woman who lives in a cabin near the Weylin plantation. It is to her cabin that Dana goes on her first night in Maryland. Alice’s mother agrees to shelter Dana for a short time. She suspects that Dana is a runaway slave.
Carrie is the main house servant. She is unable to speak, and for this reason she is the only one of her mother’s children not to have been sold away. She is light-skinned, and Dana suspects that Weylin is her father. Carrie marries Rufus’s servant, Nigel, and they are allowed to build their own cabin on the property.
Jake Edwards is the first overseer on the plantation, needed after Luke is sold. He is apparently kin to Margaret Weylin, and shares her cruelty. Like Weylin, he has no qualms about whipping slaves or taking one as a mistress.
Dana is the narrator and main character of Kindred. She is a twenty-six year old black woman married to a white man, Kevin Franklin. Both of them are writers. When she is pulled back in time to nineteenth-century Maryland, she discovers that she must save her ancestor, Rufus Weylin, the red-haired son of a plantation owner. Dana believes that if she does not save her ancestor each time his life is at risk, her existence is threatened. She is only pulled back into Rufus’s time when his life is in danger.
Kevin is Dana’s husband. Like Dana, he is a writer, and he has published several novels. At first, he does not believe that his wife is time traveling, until he, too, is pulled back in time with her. As a white man, he finds living in the antebellum South much easier than Dana, and he has a hard time protecting her from the brutalities of slavery. When Dana time travels back home without him, Kevin is trapped in the nineteenth century for five years without her.
Even Fowler is the overseer who replaces Jake Edwards. When Rufus wishes to punish Dana by sending her to the fields for a day, Fowler makes sure she is worked hard by whipping her and berating her all day.
Sam James is a muscular, handsome slave who takes a liking to Dana. Even though she refuses his advances, Sam James asks her to teach his brother and sister to read. Rufus promptly sells James because of his interest in Dana.
Liza is the plantation’s sewing woman. When Alice takes up sewing, too, Liza regards her as an enemy. Because of Alice’s skill, Liza is in danger of being sent to the fields. Liza hates Dana because she is Alice’s friend, and she betrays Dana when Dana tries to run away to find Kevin.
Luke is Nigel’s father. He has some seniority on the plantation, and Weylin gives him power over the slaves in the field. But when Luke does not obey Weylin, he is promptly sold away.
Old Mary is an ancient slave woman who watches the slave children all day. In her prime, she knew much about herbs and healing, but now she is no use to Dana because she has grown senile. Alice eventually takes over her child-minding duties.
The patroller is part of a group of white men who “patrol” the countryside, looking for runaways and harassing slaves. Dana is almost raped by a patroller on her first visit to Rufus’s time.
Sarah is Carrie’s mother. She is in charge of the cookhouse and gives frequent counsel to Dana. She carries great anger towards Tom Weylin for selling off her children, but she is too afraid to rebel or run away. She has become complacent about being a slave.
Tess is the plantation’s washerwoman. She is kind to Dana, and Dana tries to keep her from being sold after first Weylin, the Jake Edwards, uses her as a mistress.
Hagar is the daughter of Alice and Rufus. She will become Dana’s grandmother in time, and it is her record-keeping in the family Bible that helps Dana discover why she is being sent back to help Rufus.
Joe is the son of Alice and Rufus. He is an intelligent child, and Rufus allows Dana to teach Joe to read and write.
Margaret Weylin is Rufus’s mother. She is vain, nervous, uneducated, and often hysterical. She is not a true lady, and she uses her power to be cruel to servants. She resents the respect Rufus shows for Dana and makes life hard for her. During the course of the novel, she gives birth to and loses twins, then retires to Baltimore to escape Weylin Plantation. There she becomes a laudanum addict. She returns to Weylin Plantation only after her husband dies.
Rufus Weylin is Dana’s white ancestor. He is the son of a Maryland plantation owner, and he inherits the plantation when his father dies. When Dana first meets Rufus, he is a kind, innocent, red-headed child. Each time she returns, however, Rufus is older—and more like his cruel father. Dana is unable to stop him from selling slaves, from punishing slaves, and from raping a young, free black girl, Alice, whom he forces to be his mistress.
Tom Weylin is Rufus’s father. He is a stingy, cold, cruel man, but he holds Dana in some awe because of her knowledge and healing skills. He cannot, however, treat Dana as anything other than a slave. He brutally whips Dana twice, once when he discovers her teaching slaves to read and then when later she tries to escape. Despite his cruelty, he lets her teach Rufus to read, and he makes sure she works in the house, not the fields.