Study Questions for "The Storm"

For the most part, the issues raised in the previous chapters continue in this one: Home, How does one become a slave?, Dana's influence on Rufus as he grows into an adult, and Rufus's relationship with Alice, among other things, are the central issues of the chapter. Here are a few things to consider as you read "The Storm."

  1. How does the title of the chapter function? That is, in addition to the literal storm that calls Dana to the past, what other stormy situations occur in this chapter?
  2. Have Dana's fears about Kevin being changed by his time in the past been realized? What specific details of part 1 of "The Storm" cause concern about how Kevin has been changed by his five years in the past? Consider Dana's response to Kevin's expression (bottom 194) and the parallel statements by Kevin and Rufus (189 & 213).
  3. For the second consecutive chapter, Butler opens a chapter in the present time of the novel: 1976. How does the opening of "The Storm" once more complicate the definition of "home." See the opening word of the chapter, Dana's sense of home earlier (127), and Kevin on 190 and throughout part 1 of this chapter.
  4. How does this chapter continue Butler's address to what makes one a slave as well as the inquiry into the distinction between house slaves and field slaves? Recall Dana's earlier thought: "See how easily slaves are made?" (177) and consider Dana's tendency to respond to Tom Weylin with "yes, sir" regardless of what he says to demean or offend her (201). See Alice's critique of Dana as someone who is becoming like Sarah and the field slaves treatment of Dana in the cookhouse (220). Consider also Dana's realization that she has "stopped acting" (221). What might be Butler's purpose in showing us a Dana who has become a resistant slave who takes her time performing chores for Margaret Weylin? (219).
  5. To what extent has Dana succeeded in preventing Rufus from turning into his father? Has her intervention improved or worsened the situation?
  6. How has Margaret Weylin been changed by circumstances? What might be Butler's purpose in presenting a broken, opium addicted Margaret Weylin who now desires Dana's company and treats Nigel's children with kindness?