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.

Fifth Season Term Analysis

A Fifth Season is an apocalyptic period or “extended winter” that is usually caused by seismic activity or another drastic change to the environment in the Stillness. Stonelore and most of the cultures of the Stillness are based around surviving Fifth Seasons, though centuries might pass between them. The history of past Seasons is often obscured, but they are rumored to have begun with the “Shattering Season,” when Father Earth turned against his creations and the earth’s crust first broke in two. There have been many Seasons since then, most of them caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. The Fifth Season describes the beginning of a new Season, one that will seemingly last for thousands of years, when Alabaster breaks the Stillness in half at the beginning of the novel.

Fifth Season Quotes in The Fifth Season

The The Fifth Season quotes below are all either spoken by Fifth Season or refer to Fifth Season. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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 5 Quotes

Because everyone’s starting to realize what the shake and the redglow and the clouded sky all mean, and to be on the outside of a community’s gates at a time like this is—in the long run—a death sentence, except for a handful who are willing to become brutal enough or depraved enough to do what they must. Even those only have a chance at survival.

None of the people at the roadhouse wanted to believe they had that in them, you saw as you looked around, assessing faces and clothes and bodies and threats.

Related Characters: Essun/Damaya/Syenite
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

The young man has a sash around his waist that is soft and peach colored and there solely for decoration, as far as you can tell.

Except it’s not really decoration. You notice how they look at you when you walk up: a sweep of the eyes, an inspection of your wrists or neck or ankles, a frown as you are found wanting. The impractical cloth has one very practical use: It is the marker of a new tribe in the process of being born. A tribe to which you do not belong.

Related Characters: Essun/Damaya/Syenite
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Fifth Season LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Fifth Season PDF

Fifth Season Term Timeline in The Fifth Season

The timeline below shows where the term Fifth Season appears in The Fifth Season. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: Damaya, grinding to a halt
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...an obelisk floating overhead. She thinks about how, even though some comms have survived Fifth Seasons, Sanze is the only nation to survive a Season—it has survived seven—and that is “because... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
The chapter ends with a description of a past Fifth Season, this one called the “Boiling Season.” It was caused by an underwater eruption that sent... (full context)
Chapter 7: you plus one is two
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
This chapter ends with a quotation from a “Lorist recitation” about the “age before the Seasons, when life and Earth, its father, thrived alike. (Life had a mother, too. Something terrible... (full context)
Chapter 8: Syenite on the highroad
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...ends with a proverb saying that after Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, Death is the fifth season . (full context)
Chapter 9: Syenite among the enemy
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...she assumes that Allia has a lot of new money and not much experience with Seasons. A guard waves them through when he sees Alabaster’s 10 rings, and Syenite is annoyed... (full context)
Chapter 10: you walk beside the beast
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...before, and her current self as Essun isn’t particularly equipped to live through a Fifth Season. But Nassun still might be alive, and Essun is Nassun’s mother, so Essun decides that... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...woman says that it was probably an animal attack, as nature adjusts to a Fifth Season much faster than people do. She warns Essun not to follow her, suggesting that she... (full context)
Chapter 11: Damaya at the fulcrum of it all
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...and no one sees Crack again. The chapter ends with a description of a Fifth Season called the Fungus Season, when volcanic eruptions darkened the skies and caused a fungal bloom... (full context)
Chapter 13: you’re on the trail
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...a kind of marker for a new tribe that might be forming as the Fifth Season begins, comprised of those who came from cities and used to be rich. (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...comm, she is surprised to see Tonkee produce a compass—a priceless item during a Fifth Season—and trade it for two pairs of boots, one of which is for Hoa. Tonkee then... (full context)
Chapter 15: you’re among friends
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...but she warns them that this is a comm unlike any other. If this Fifth Season is short, then Sanze will surely destroy them soon enough, but she doesn’t believe that... (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
...Hoa seems to deflate and agrees to Ykka’s rules. Ykka continues, saying that since the Season began, they’ve been taking in people from all over, as long as they’ve been able... (full context)
Chapter 16: Syen in the hidden land
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...why anyone would live on an island, and how they’ll survive if there’s a Fifth Season. Alabaster says he doesn’t know, but the Meovites are aware of all the dangers and... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
...the Meovites have survived is because life in the ocean doesn’t die out during a Season the way that land or rivers does. But the main reason, he says with a... (full context)
Chapter 17: Damaya, in finality
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...center of the Fulcrum. It is connected to a gap in history itself—after one Fifth Season that took place thousands of years ago, warlords took over as they usually do, but... (full context)
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
After this Fifth Season was the Madness Season, during which Warlord Verishe founded Sanze and became the first Emperor.... (full context)
Chapter 18: you discover wonders down below
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...long time, and they only used it as a cache for supplies. During the last Season, however, the aboveground comm of Castrima was burned to the ground, and the survivors had... (full context)
Chapter 20: Syenite, stretched and snapped back
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...broke open and almost every living thing died. This was the first and worst Fifth Season: the Shattering Season. Syenite wonders what really caused this first Season. Even every living orogene... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
...that it will only get worse and kill more people or set off a Fifth Season. (full context)
Chapter 21: you’re getting the band back together
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
The chapter ends with a description of a Fifth Season called the Madness Season, during which a series of eruptions blanketed the Stillness in darkness... (full context)
Chapter 22: Syenite, fractured
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Alabaster says that the story took place soon after the Fifth Season called the Season of Teeth, and the emperor at the time was called Anafumeth. Syenite... (full context)
Chapter 23: you’re all you need
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...that Alabaster is the one who tore the continent in half and started the Fifth Season. Alabaster admits that he did, using the obelisks and also all the node maintainers across... (full context)
Appendix 1: A catalog of Fifth Seasons that have been recorded…
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
This appendix describes the Stillness’s past Fifth Seasons. Most recent is the Choking Season, caused by a volcanic eruption. Before that was the... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
The Season of Teeth, also caused by an earthquake and eruption, took place 900 years after the... (full context)
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Before the Sanzed Empire, the Fifth Seasons were not as well-documented, and many of their causes are unknown. The appendix names these... (full context)