The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

by

N. K. Jemisin

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Use-caste Term Analysis

Use-castes are ways of dividing people into how useful they will be during a Fifth Season. For example, members of the Resistant use-caste are supposed to be better at surviving famines, Breeders are selected for being healthy and having desirable physical traits, Innovators are meant to be intelligent problem-solvers, and Strongbacks are used for heavy labor. Even outside of a Season almost all citizens of the Stillness use their use-caste as a second name, inheriting it from their parent of the same sex, as useful traits are supposedly passed down most successfully in this way. Damaya is born a Strongback, then is referred to as Orogene at the Fulcrum, and when she becomes Essun she takes the use-name of Resistant.
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Use-caste Term Timeline in The Fifth Season

The timeline below shows where the term Use-caste appears in The Fifth Season. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: you, at the end
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...teacher at the local “creche.” Her husband is named Jija, a member of the Resistant use-caste. Essun has two children, one who is now missing and one (Uche) who is dead.... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Uche was killed before the quake). Lerna leaves to find the head of the Resistant use-caste (which Essun has claimed to be a part of) to tell her that Essun is... (full context)
Chapter 2: Damaya, in winters past
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...though Mother angrily calls for her to come down. The man tells Damaya (using her use-caste name, “Strongback”) that she doesn’t need to be afraid, that he has come to help... (full context)
Chapter 5: you’re not alone
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...himself as Hoa. Essun is suspicious, assuming that he must have a comm name or use-caste name and also that he probably isn’t alone, but the boy says there’s no one... (full context)
Chapter 6: Damaya, grinding to a halt
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
...and came out with his bodyguard, Shemshena. Shemshena was a skilled warrior of the Innovator use-caste who had studied orogenes and the way orogeny worked. Before Misalem arrived, she had evacuated... (full context)
Chapter 7: you plus one is two
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...reluctant to give any answers and doesn’t seem to have a comm, parents, or a use-caste name. Essun assumes that he is lying, but he also seems too young to be... (full context)
Chapter 13: you’re on the trail
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
...and Hoa on their journey, introducing herself as Tonkee but not giving a comm or use-caste name. She claims to have joined them just because Hoa is so interesting to her,... (full context)
Chapter 15: you’re among friends
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Rogga Castrima, and Essun and Tonkee are both surprised to hear “rogga” used as a use-caste name, considering its negative implications. Tonkee, clearly fascinated by Ykka, also comments that Castrima is... (full context)
Chapter 21: you’re getting the band back together
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...professions, and even more by being a trans girl, as the members of the Leadership use-caste “breed among themselves” via arranged marriages. Her family finally decided to “bury” her at the... (full context)