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Power and Love Under Slavery

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Power can be success or a failure, depending on the individual who uses it. In fact, power in the right hands creates love and peace, yet on the other hand, power under a wrong hand corrupts love and relations. In the novel Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, Rufus uses his power to ruin love and the relationships that he used to have. When power has gotten into a wrong hand, it becomes a disease. It leads the individual to feel superior. As the individual thinks he/she is on a higher level than anybody else, he/she gets jealous of other’s possessions, and then starts to destroy what others have, such as love. Rufus is a great example of power corruption. When he started to have power, he destroyed the woman he loves and ruin the friendships. Indeed, under the slavery system, love and power do not go together. Power destroys love describes the relationship to each other. In the slavery system, people who haven’t obtained any power certainly have love in them. Rufus has a humane soul while he hasn’t got any power yet.

He sees Alice and Nigel as good friends and he doesn’t have any prejudice against them. When Dana asks whether Rufus knows Alice, Rufus answer, “Sure. Alice is my friend.” (28). “She’s no slave, either,” (28). These two quotes show that Rufus thinks Alice is a friend rather than a slave in his childhood. At the time he is young, he has respects to the colored people. Other than respects, he certainly has love towards Alice. He wants to marry her. “If I lived in your time, I would have married her. Or tried to.” (125). The quote states the desire of how Rufus wants Alice to be his wife. He loves Alice so much that he wants to marry her even Alice is colored. While power is not obtained, Rufus has love and respect toward others. However, when the power is gained, it slowly destroys the love inside the person. As Rufus gets the power, he uses the power to corrupt love. He thinks power would give him the love that he always longing for, therefore, he raped Alice: “Rufe, did you manage to rape that girl?”

He looked away guiltily.
“Why would you do such a thing? She used to be your friend.” “When we were little, we were friends,” he said softly. “We grew up. “She got so she’d rather have a buck nigger than me!” (123)

While we witness this conversation, we can see that how Rufus has changed. He admitted that he raped Alice. He thinks raping is a way to gain love from Alice. Yet he is wrong. The moment that he decided to insult Alice, he is using his power to destroy love. He doesn’t realize that wrongly uses of power will not get him love, but opposite. Moreover, the power has made him losing love from his inside and begins to dehumanize the others. While Dana is talking to Rufus about Alice, he told Dana “She’ll get what’s coming to her. She’ll get it whether I give it to her or not.” (123). This quote demonstrates the change of Rufus under power.

He wouldn’t think Alice is a slave back into his childhood. Nevertheless, as Rufus has power, he treats Alice as a property instead of a friend. He thinks Alice has to be totally under his control. But if a man loves a woman, he will not do such things. Again, Rufus deems love can be obtained from power. However, he is indeed destroying his love toward Alice. Therefore, when someone obtains power under the slavery system, that person could destroy love he/she has, because power makes people forget the love.

When the power grows, it kills love faster. As Rufus inherited his dad’s fortune, he became a slave owner. He gains more power that he used to have. While Alice attempts to run away from Rufus, he threatens Alice that he sold Alice’s children. But he actually did not sell them. The lie is just to make Alice to stay with him: “Where are the children, Rufe?”
“In Baltimore with my mother’s sister.” “But … why?” “To punish her, scare her. To make her see what could happen if she didn’t … if she tried to leave me.” (251)

Rufus wants Alice to stay with him because he loves this woman so much. Yet Alice doesn’t feel the same way. She just wants to get away from Rufus. After that, Rufus uses his power to threaten Alice by telling her a lie, hoping Alice will stay with him and not leave. As a result, Alice committed suicide and hanged herself. This is a good illustration of how Rufus destroys the love. He loves Alice and wants her to stay, but he used the wrong method. Rufus utilizes the power of a slave owner to threaten Alice. However, what he did had an opposite effect. Alice did not stay but she killed herself. While Rufus wants to use power to create love, he destroyed it.

There is no doubt that power is a great thing. However, it has two sides, depending the one who processes it. Under the slavery system, power is a disease. It makes slaves owners ruin love, and dehumanize not only the slaves but also themselves. Rufus is a great illustration of how power can destroy love.

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