The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

by

N. K. Jemisin

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Fifth Season can help.

The Node Maintainer Character Analysis

The nameless node maintainer at Mehi is one of Alabaster’s children, whom he never was allowed to meet. Like other node maintainers, he has been essentially lobotomized, sedated, and strapped into a wire chair so that he constantly uses his incredibly powerful orogeny to quiet earthquakes while having no free will or control of his own. When he is awakened from his sedation for the sake of someone’s sexual fetish, the extreme pain that the node maintainer feels causes him to kill everyone around him and create a spontaneous seismic event beneath the area.

The Node Maintainer Quotes in The Fifth Season

The The Fifth Season quotes below are all either spoken by The Node Maintainer or refer to The Node Maintainer. 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 8 Quotes

“You think you matter?” All at once he smiles. It’s an ugly thing, cold as the vapor that curls off ice. “You think any of us matter beyond what we can do for them? Whether we obey or not.” He jerks his head toward the body of the abused, murdered child. “You think he mattered, after what they did to him? The only reason they don’t do this to all of us is because we’re more versatile, more useful, if we control ourselves. But each of us is just another weapon, to them. Just a useful monster, just a bit of new blood to add to the breeding lines. Just another fucking rogga.”

She has never heard so much hate put into one word before.

Related Characters: Alabaster (speaker), Essun/Damaya/Syenite, The Node Maintainer
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Fifth Season LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Fifth Season PDF

The Node Maintainer Character Timeline in The Fifth Season

The timeline below shows where the character The Node Maintainer appears in The Fifth Season. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: Syenite on the highroad
Power and Control Theme Icon
...in Mehi was the node station itself. Syen finally realizes that he means that the node maintainer himself must have set off the hot spot. Using so much power also must have... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...of them completely frozen. She heads toward the central pyramid, assuming that Alabaster and the node maintainer will be there. She lights a lamp and goes inside, and soon finds the frozen... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...When she realizes what she’s actually seeing, she curses to herself. The body of the node maintainer is small, naked, and attached to a series of pipes and wires. She understands what... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...is shocked and horrified. Alabaster shows her something else—a scar at the base of the node maintainer ’s neck. Orogenes’ sessapinae are larger than other people’s, he explains, and the node maintainer... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Alabaster explains that the problem must have been that someone let this node maintainer wake up. He says that some people have a fetish for the node maintainers and... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
...in all, but he doesn’t know where most of them are. Syen remembers that the node maintainer looked just like Alabaster. She tentatively asks about their own future child, and Alabaster says... (full context)
...forget everything she saw today. When she makes her report, she should refer to the node maintainer as nothing more than a resource, and she must affirm that it existed for the... (full context)