First off, when we get the first glimpse into Rufus the boy he is burning his drapery to get attention from his father. He then mentions how he had also burned a barn. Here, we can already tell that Rufus likes to be heard, get his way, and when he doesn’t his reaction is way too exaggerated. He also is already influenced by what he sees around him. He says to Dana, “You have to say it... young master…you’re suppose to. ” Dana responds, “No. ” Rufus grips her arm and says, “Yes! ” This reaction Rufus displays to Dana shows his influence of slave owning times and his inability to accept rejection.
Although, when Dana says, “Rufe, don’t burn anything else. ” He responds with, “I wont. ” This indicates that he can take direction from another person and someone who is black, and this leads you to think that maybe he can learn to take direction and possibly change his ways. When Dana returns to the Weylin plantation with Kevin Rufus says, “Does Dana belong to you now?... wife!... niggers can’t marry white people! ” This reaction shows that Rufus was indeed fitting into his society’s way of thinking and the mere idea of their marriage was insanity.
However, as Dana returns again Rufus was indeed changing. This time he was trying to be with Alice, a black girl he had grown up with. As a child Rufus had this girl as his friend, but Rufus was now turning into his father, trying to take a black woman to bed with him. He had gone from a boy hating his father to a young man becoming him. Alice said, He tried to get Judge Holman to sell Isaac south to keep me from marrying him. ” This also shows that Rufus is growing into a selfish young man with rash reactions. Similar to when he was a child.
Though a lot of his reactions now hurt the ones he loves. He said to Dana about Alice running away, “Jail. A good whipping. Then they’ll sell her. ” “She’ll be a slave? ” “Her own fault. ” This is a good example of his rash harshness. Even though at many points in the story Rufus seems awful, he still has some humanity in him. When asked if he would ever sell anyone like his father he responds, “I don’t know. I don’t think so. ” This one comment shows Rufus may be some things but heartless isn’t one of them. In fact, Rufus seems to constantly yearning for someone’s love.
When Alice was being healed Rufus says this time has been great because Alice hasn’t hated him. Although Rufus does hit Alice later when she doesn’t show him love. This shows that Rufus will not be rejected by anyone. His love for Dana even drives him to hold a gun to her and yell, “You’re not leaving!... Damn you, you’re not leaving me! ” Rufus’ need for his way and only his way continues when his father passes away. He says, “you let him die?... You let him die…damn you to hell, you let him die!... you just let him die. ” His repetition shows his irrational behavior.
He doesn’t take into account that Dana has just saved his life and there was nothing to do for Tom Weylin. Rufus continues to show his selfish behavior mixed with his plantation upbringing when he sends Dana to the fields to work as punishment. His ultimate step into becoming a plantation owner was with his father passing, and now he was far from the person that said he would never sell a slave. His authority is really noticeable when he says, “You walk away from me, Dana, you’ll be back in the fields in an hour!... Don’t you ever walk away from me again! At this point his threats aren’t him whining like when he was a child, he meant it. Rufus’ character develops a lot near the end of the book as we realize his feelings toward Dana all to clearly. In the middle of the night he approaches Alice and Dana and says, “You really are only one woman. Did you know that? ” Rufus had Alice for his physical needs and Dana for his emotional. We start to see that Dana wasn’t just his friend; he needed to have her, no matter what. His jealously became clear when he sold the slave Sam for just speaking to Dana.
He said, “He wanted you…he wanted you. ” He then says to Dana, “Your so much like her, I can hardly stand it. ” Rufus’ relationship with Dana had gone from friendship and understanding to Rufus wanting more and he aimed to have it. When we see that Rufus was allowing his son to call him daddy finally it was reminder of his humanity. We see that in some ways he was still good, and not racked with intense emotions. However, his humane side diminishes slowly with his irrational wants, desires and need for affection.
Rufus’ character is interesting because of his development throughout this novel. In some ways it was radical and in others it was not. As a child he seemed to react too strongly in situations, like he does throughout his life. As a child you think he may change and not let his times control the way he thinks, but as he becomes an adult it’s obvious the South and his father have a big effect on him. In the end, Rufus’ selfishness, dominance, possession, and jealousy outweigh his sincerity, ultimately leading to his demise.