Both Kindred and Beowulf use violence to represent superiority and power. Violence is a recurring theme that is used to prove power, authority, and in Beowulf’s case, gain loyalty and trust of his fellow warriors and people. Through violent encounters, the main antagonists and protagonists use violence and the fear violence creates as fuel to control and manipulate other characters.
-Tom’s use of violence towards Rufus
One of the main producers of violence in Kindred is Tom Weylin. He is a huge authority figure as a father in a time where whipping your child was seen as more acceptable. The reader learns that ever since he was a small child of the age about four or five, Tom would beat Rufus as punishment when he misbehaved. [find quote from beginning where it says he was beat from an early age]
-Tom’s use of violence towards the slaves
Not only does his violent side show when dealing with his son, Rufus, but also as a plantation owner making a living off of the unpaid, forced labor of other human beings. To be a successful business man, he felt he must show his control over his slaves and instill fear in them by violent means. When working in the fields, the black slaves would constantly have a white overseer watching them work and whipping them when they were not working hard enough or producing the crop they were capable of. [Find quote about Dana being whipped by the overseer in the fields] This reinforced the power dynamic of the day; whites control blacks, whites have all authority over blacks. When a slave misbehaved or tried to do something such as run away from the plantation, their punishment was made public to be seen as a lesson for all the other slaves. When going to whip a slave, Tom calls all the other slaves from the plantation to witness this act and hopefully scare other individuals from trying to run away or act out. [find quote where Dana is witnessing the man being whipped] By gathering all the slaves around watch him beat somebody, Tom reinforced the idea that though the blacks have the numbers on the plantation, the lack the power and authority to try anything like a rebellion or act out against the whites who run the plantation.
Tom’s use of violence towards Dana
-Rufus’s violence towards Alice
Since his father had been violent to him all throughout his adolescence starting at an early age, Rufus grew up learning that violence is an acceptable means of getting what you want and having your needs forcefully met. This becomes apparent for the first time when the reader sees Rufus forcing himself on Alice and raping her. [find quote from this passage] Rufus thought that he loved her and was not sure how to express it but had seen his father force himself upon slaves and use violence to acquire what he wanted so Rufus attempted to do the same thing. As the book progresses, the reader witnesses many other cases where Rufus forcefully calls Alice to bed with him. Though Alice does not want to go with him at all at first, she does not ever fight back but just goes with him. [find quote where Alice goes with him to bed begrudgingly] Alice’s submissive nature and obedience to comply because she fears what could happen if she disobeyed him and did not go with him only reinforced to Rufus that through violence and intimidation, a person can attain what they please.
-Rufus’s violence towards Dana
· Slapping her across the face
· pointing his gun at her and Kevin
· hurtful/threatening words to get what he wanted
Word Count: 590