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Dana, who finds herself shuttled between her California home in 1976 and a pre-Civil War Maryland plantation. As her stays in the past become longer, Dana becomes intimately entangled with the plantation community, making hard compromises to survive slavery and to ensure her existence in her own time. Through the two interracial couples that form the emotional core of the story, the novel also explain pain butler pdf the intersection of power, gender, and race issues and speculates on the prospects of future egalitarianism.

Butler has categorized the work as “a kind of grim fantasy. Dana wakes up in the hospital with her arm amputated. Police deputies question her about the fantastical circumstances surrounding the loss of her arm and ask her whether her husband, Kevin, beats her. Dana tells them that it was an accident and that Kevin is not to blame. When Kevin visits her, they are both afraid of telling the truth because they know nobody would believe them. Their predicament began on June 9, 1976, the day of her twenty-sixth birthday.

The day before, she and Kevin had moved into a house a few miles away from their old apartment in Los Angeles. While unpacking, Dana suddenly becomes dizzy, and her surroundings begin to fade away. When she comes to her senses, she finds herself at the edge of a wood, near a river where a small, red-haired boy is drowning. Dana wades in after him, drags him to the shore, and tries to resuscitate him. The boy’s mother, who had been unable to save him, begins screaming and hitting Dana, accusing her of killing her son, whom she identifies as Rufus. A man arrives and points a gun at Dana, terrifying her. She becomes dizzy again and arrives back at her new house with Kevin beside her.

Kevin, shocked at her disappearance and reappearance, tries to understand if the whole episode was real or a hallucination. Dana managed to wash off the filth from the river before the dizziness sets in once again. This time, she is whisked back to a bedroom where a red-haired boy has set his bedroom drapes aflame. The boy turns out to be Rufus, now a few years older. Dana quickly puts out the fire and speaks to Rufus, who, unafraid, confesses he set fire to the drapes to get back at his father for beating him after he stole a dollar.

During their ensuing conversation, Rufus’s casual use of the word “nigger” to refer to Dana, who is black, initially upsets Dana, but then leads her to figure out that she has been transported back in time as well as space, specifically to Maryland, circa 1815. Following Rufus’s advice, Dana seeks refuge at home of Alice Greenwood and her mother, free blacks who live on the edge of the plantation. Dana realizes that both Rufus and Alice are her ancestors, and will one day have children. At the Greenwoods’, she witnesses a group of young white men smash down the door, drag out Alice’s father, who is a slave, and whip him brutally for being there without papers. One of the men punches Alice’s mother when she refuses his advances. The men leave, Dana comes out of hiding, and helps Alice’s mother, only to be confronted by one of the white men, who hits her and attempts to rape her. Fearing for her life, Dana becomes dizzy and returns to 1976.

Though hours have passed for her, Kevin assures her that she has only been gone for a few minutes. The next day, Kevin and Dana prepare for the possibility that she may travel back in time again by packing her a survival bag and by doing some research on black history from the books in their home library. In a flashback, Dana recounts how she met Kevin while doing minimum-wage temporary jobs at an auto-parts warehouse. Kevin becomes interested in Dana when he learns she is a writer like him, and she befriends him even though he is white and their coworkers judge their relationship. As Kevin is leaving for the library to find out how to forge free papers for Dana, she feels the dizziness coming back. This time, Kevin holds on to her and also travels to the past. They find Rufus writhing in pain from a broken leg.

Next to him is a black boy named Nigel, whom they send to the main house for help. Rufus reacts with violent disbelief when he finds out that Kevin and Dana are married: whites and blacks are not allowed to marry in his time. Dana and Kevin then explain to Rufus that they are from the future and prove it by showing the dates stamped on the coins Kevin carries in his pockets. Rufus promises to keep their identity a secret, and Dana tells Kevin to pretend that he is her owner. When Tom Weylin arrives with his slave Luke to retrieve Rufus, Kevin introduces himself. Weylin grudgingly invites him to dinner. Once back in the Weylin plantation, Margaret, Rufus’s mother, fusses about her son’s well-being and, jealous of the attention Rufus shows Dana, sends Dana to the cookhouse.