The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

by

N. K. Jemisin

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The narrator of The Fifth Season, Hoa is a stone eater who somehow makes himself look and move like a human child—though a very strange one, with extremely pale skin, hair, and eyes. He is especially fixated on Essun, and seems to transform himself so that he might travel with her and because he wants her to “like him.” As The Fifth Season begins, Hoa emerges from inside a geode as a small figure who slowly begins to move and walk, and then breaks off other white and red crystals from the geode itself and begins eating them. He gathers the rest into a bundle and carries throughout the novel as his sustenance—though they are not just food for him, as he claims but does not explain, but also part of his identity and how he is able to take on a human appearance. Hoa seems to genuinely care for Essun, as he protects her from a kirkhusa by turning it into stone and also defends her from other stone eaters at Castrima, but like the rest of kind his origins and true motivations are left entirely mysterious in The Fifth Season. At the same time, Essun cannot help seeing Hoa as a kind and curious child, even though she knows that he is a potentially dangerous being who is probably thousands of years old. At the novel’s end, Hoa reveals himself as the story’s narrator, referring to Essun in the second-person and describing how he, like many other stone eaters, was first drawn to her when she drew power from the obelisk at Meov.

Hoa Quotes in The Fifth Season

The The Fifth Season quotes below are all either spoken by Hoa or refer to Hoa. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Orbit edition of The Fifth Season published in 2015.
Chapter 7 Quotes

He’s not just small but stocky, as if his people are built for a different kind of sturdiness than the ideal that Old Sanze has spent millennia cultivating. Maybe his race are all this white, then, whoever they are.

But none of this makes sense. Every race in the world these days is part Sanzed. They did rule the Stillness for centuries, after all, and they continue to do so in many ways. And they weren’t always peaceful about it, so even the most insular races bear the Sanzed stamp whether their ancestors wanted the admixture or not. Everyone is measured by their standard deviations from the Sanzed mean.

Related Characters: Essun/Damaya/Syenite, Hoa
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Fifth Season LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Fifth Season PDF

Hoa Character Timeline in The Fifth Season

The timeline below shows where the character Hoa appears in The Fifth Season. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: you’re not alone
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...sits cross-legged while staring at her, and he finally says hello and introduces himself as Hoa. Essun is suspicious, assuming that he must have a comm name or use-caste name and... (full context)
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Deciding to risk it, Essun tosses Hoa a bedroll and decides to make him leave the next morning, but she allows herself... (full context)
Chapter 7: you plus one is two
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Essun wakes up and starts walking again, this time with the strange child Hoa accompanying her. She tries to ask him about himself, but he is very reluctant to... (full context)
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Essun continues to examine Hoa and try to figure him out. He is very small, but he acts like he’s... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Essun and Hoa pass by a few travelers on the Imperial Road, and ash is now falling from... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Hoa realizes that Essun wants him to wash himself, and he seems confused until she sarcastically... (full context)
Power and Control Theme Icon
Still in shaken by Hoa’s appearance, Essun curses and then is even more surprised when Hoa smiles and says that... (full context)
Power and Control Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
At one of their rest breaks, Essun tries to tell Hoa that he can’t stay with her, and that she’ll try to find a comm for... (full context)
Power and Control Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Essun asks Hoa how he knows these things, and he just shrugs and says that it’s something he’s... (full context)
Chapter 10: you walk beside the beast
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Essun and Hoa are sleeping near a roadhouse for the night, with many other people camped nearby, when... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...to the roadhouse for the rest of their things and to refill their water containers. Hoa suggests that instead, they could go back to the creek where he took a bath.... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
As Essun and Hoa walk through the falling ash and approach the roadhouse, everything seems abandoned. Hoa watches how... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...back to a comm full of cannibals. Essun fills the pack and gives it to Hoa, and they prepare to leave—but the woman freezes as she steps out the door. In... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
...fighting between its two contradictory instincts. Essun prepares to kill it with orogeny, but suddenly Hoa steps toward it. Essun tries to grab him but finds him incredibly solid and immoveable,... (full context)
Power and Control Theme Icon
Essun and the woman stare in awe at this, and then Essun hurries to Hoa’s side. He seems ashamed of what just happened, and he says that he hadn’t wanted... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Now realizing that Hoa is something extremely dangerous, Essun considers what to do. Finally, she is convinced just by... (full context)
Chapter 13: you’re on the trail
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
The commless woman now joins Essun and Hoa on their journey, introducing herself as Tonkee but not giving a comm or use-caste name.... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...the three set out south again, with Essun still trying to figure out what exactly Hoa is, because he doesn’t seem to be human (although orogenes aren’t technically considered human either).... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...of them split a night watch and share food, although Essun is now sure that Hoa doesn’t eat at all. At one comm, she is surprised to see Tonkee produce a... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Their long and weary journey continues, following only Hoa’s instincts about where Nassun is. They pass through one shortcut that saves them a lot... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Hoa again refuses to explain how he can sense all of this, but he is sure... (full context)
Chapter 15: you’re among friends
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Essun, Hoa, and Tonkee have finally reached the place where Hoa could sense all the orogenes gathering,... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Ykka, also comments that Castrima is not a recognized comm name. Ykka then looks at Hoa, and Essun realizes that he is glaring with hatred at the third woman on the... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Essun now realizes that Hoa has never showed his teeth before, and though they are the color of human teeth... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Ykka now turns to Tonkee and Hoa and again invites them to come into Castrima, but she warns them that this is... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Ykka then turns to Hoa and tells him that there are other stone eaters here as well, and Hoa says... (full context)
Chapter 18: you discover wonders down below
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...that she prefers to travel through stone, rather than walking. But then Ykka looks at Hoa, who is walking down the steps with them, and seems surprised. They then enter another... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...herself, giving only the name “Essun,” which itself is a lie, she thinks. Tonkee and Hoa introduce themselves as well. Ykka then welcomes them to Castrima and says that their comm... (full context)
Chapter 21: you’re getting the band back together
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Hoa comes into the room, and Essun prepares to talk to him. He admits that he... (full context)
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Essun is still confused, and she asks Hoa why he would want to seem human when he could just travel through the earth.... (full context)
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Essun asks Hoa about the other stone eaters in Castrima, and he tenses up again, saying that they... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Hoa enters the apartment and first glares at Lerna, but then seems to visibly relax. He... (full context)
Chapter 22: Syenite, fractured
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...that she is special, and that when he finally met her, he introduced himself as Hoa. (full context)
Chapter 23: you’re all you need
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Antimony says to come no closer, but Essun then realizes that she is talking to Hoa, who has followed her. The two stone eaters glare at each other and then declare... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...has been broken off, seemingly gnawed by teeth. Essun thinks of what she saw when Hoa and the stone eater bared their diamond teeth at each other, and she looks over... (full context)