The Water Dancer

by

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Hiram Walker Character Analysis

Hiram is the main character and narrator of the novel. Born into slavery on Lockless plantation, Hiram is the son of Rose, an enslaved woman, and Howell Walker, his mother’s enslaver, and thus is a product of rape. When Hiram is nine years old, Howell sells Rose, and Hiram is taken in by Thena, who acts as his surrogate mother. Hiram is extraordinarily intelligent, with a supernaturally good memory and the capacity for Conduction, a magical capability wherein the power of memory is used to travel through space. However, the one thing he struggles to remember is Rose, and this inhibits his ability to conduct. After accidentally killing his half-brother/enslaver, Maynard, in a carriage crash, Hiram attempts to flee Lockless with Sophia, the woman he loves. However, after being betrayed by his friend Georgie Parks, Hiram is captured. He eventually falls into the hands of Corinne Quinn and the Virginia Underground Railroad. Hiram is initially wary of the Underground because of the demand it places on its members to “serve,” which Hiram feels is almost reminiscent of slavery. However, after moving to Philadelphia and meeting more Underground agents—particularly Harriet—Hiram comes to feel that fighting for the freedom of others is the greatest purpose of his life. After returning to Lockless, he reunites with Sophia and takes on the role of being a father to her baby daughter, Caroline. After Howell dies, Hiram takes control of Lockless, turning it into a station of the Underground Railroad.

Hiram Walker Quotes in The Water Dancer

The The Water Dancer quotes below are all either spoken by Hiram Walker or refer to Hiram Walker. 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:
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the One World edition of The Water Dancer published in 2019.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I had always avoided that bridge, for it was stained with the remembrance of the mothers, uncles, and cousins gone Natchez-way. But knowing now the awesome power of memory, how it can open a blue door from one world to another, how it can move us from mountains to meadows, from green woods to fields caked in snow, knowing now that memory can fold the land like cloth, and knowing, too, how I had pushed my memory of her into the “down there” of my mind, how I forgot, but did not forget, I know now that this story, this Conduction, had to begin there on that fantastic bridge between the land of the living and the land of the lost.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Rose
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

I was pushing the horse as hard as I could, because all I wanted was to be home and free of Maynard’s voice, though I could never, in this life, be free of him. Maynard who held my chain. Maynard, my brother who was made my master.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Maynard Walker
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

“They ain’t your family, boy. I am more your mother standing right here now than that white man on that horse is your father.”

Related Characters: Thena (speaker), Hiram Walker, Howell Walker, Maynard Walker, Boss Harlan
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

The masters could not bring water to boil, harness a horse, nor strap their own drawers without us. We were better than them—we had to be. Sloth was literal death for us, while for them it was the whole ambition of their lives.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

It occurred to me then that even my own intelligence was unexceptional, for you could not set eyes anywhere on Lockless and not see the genius in its makers—genius in the hands that carved out the columns of the portico, genius in the songs that evoked, even in the whites, the deepest of joys and sorrows, genius in the men who made the fiddle strings whine and trill at their dances, genius in the bouquet of flavors served up from the kitchen, genius in all our lost, genius in Big John. Genius in my mother.

I imagined that my own quality might someday be recognized and then, perhaps, I, one who understood the workings of the house, the workings of the field, and the span of the larger world, might be deemed the true heir, the rightful heir, of Lockless. With this broad knowledge I would make the fields bloom again, and in that way save us all from the auctions and separation, from a descent into the darkness of Natchez, which was the coffin, which was all that awaited, I knew, under the rule of Maynard.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Rose, Maynard Walker, Big John
Related Symbols: Lockless, The Coffin
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

You have to remember what I was: not human but property, and a valuable property—one learned in all the functions of the manor, of crops, read, capable of entertaining with my tricks of memory.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker)
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

At every gathering there was this dispute about my mother’s mother, Santi Bess, and her fate. The myth held that she had executed the largest escape of tasking folk—forty-eight souls—ever recorded in the annals of Elm County. And it was not simply that they had escaped but where they’d been said to escape to—Africa. It was said that Santi had simply led them down to the river Goose, walked in, and reemerged on the other side of the sea.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Santi Bess
Related Symbols: The River Goose
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Maybe the power was in some way related to the block in my memory, and to unlock one was, perhaps, to unlock the other. And so in those dark and timeless hours in the pit, it became my ritual to reconstruct everything I had heard of her and all that I had seen of her in those moments down in the Goose. Rose of the kindest heart. Rose, sister of Emma. Rose the beautiful. Rose the silent. Rose the Water Dancer.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Rose, Emma
Related Symbols: Water Dancing, The River Goose
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

The Task was a trap. Even Georgie was trapped. And so who was Corrine Quinn to judge such a man? Who was I, who’d run with no higher purpose save my own passions and my own skin? Now I understood the Underground war. It was not the ancient and honorable kind.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Corrine Quinn, Georgie Parks
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

And in all of these words, and each of these stories, I saw as much magic as anything I’d seen in the Goose, souls conducted as surely as I was out from its depths.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker)
Related Symbols: The River Goose
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

“We forgot nothing, you and I,” Harriet said. “To forget is to truly slave. To forget is to die.” […] “To remember, friend,” she said. “For memory is the chariot, and memory is the way, and memory is bridge from the curse of slavery to the boon of freedom.”

Related Characters: Moses/Harriet Tubman (speaker), Hiram Walker
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:

“It’s just like dancing. Stay with the sound, stay with the story and you will be fine.”

Related Characters: Moses/Harriet Tubman (speaker), Hiram Walker
Related Symbols: Water Dancing
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

“We can’t ever have nothing pure,” Robert said. “It’s always out of sorts. Them stories with their knights and maidens, none of that for us. We don’t get it pure. We don’t get nothing clean.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But neither do they. It is quite a thing, a messy dirty thing, to put your own son, your own daughter, to the Task. Way I see it, ain’t no pure and it is we who are blessed, for we know this.”

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Robert (speaker)
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

Corrine Quinn was among the most fanatical agents I ever encountered on the Underground. All of these fanatics were white. They took slavery as a personal insult or affront, a stain upon their name. They had seen women carried off to fancy, or watched as a father was stripped and beaten in front of his child, or seen whole families pinned like hogs into rail-cars, steam-boats, and jails. Slavery humiliated them, because it offended a basic sense of goodness that they believed themselves to possess. And when their cousins perpetrated the base practice, it served to remind them how easily they might do the same. They scorned their barbaric brethren, but they were brethren all the same. So their opposition was a kind of vanity, a hatred of slavery that far outranked any love of the slave.

Related Characters: Hiram Walker (speaker), Corrine Quinn
Page Number: 370-371
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 33 Quotes

“What will I say to her, Hi? What will I be? What will I do when I look at her and all I can see are my lost ones?”

Related Characters: Thena (speaker), Hiram Walker, Kessiah
Page Number: 391
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Water Dancer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Water Dancer PDF

Hiram Walker Character Timeline in The Water Dancer

The timeline below shows where the character Hiram Walker appears in The Water Dancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Hiram has a vision of his mother, Rose, picturing her dancing on the bridge and looking... (full context)
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Hiram sees Rose water dancing, wearing a large jar on her head filled with water which,... (full context)
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...other white men, who consider him a “rotten apple” and a “fool.” Furious, he ordered Hiram to drive him to pick up a fancy girl. They are now heading home, to... (full context)
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Forcing himself to remain calm, Hiram manages to push himself to the surface, and sees that the bridge is already “a... (full context)
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Certain that he is about to die, Hiram thinks about his loved ones at Lockless: the elderly Thena and the young Sophia. He... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Like all enslaved people, Hiram has dreamed of escaping the plantation his whole life. However, he is unusual in that... (full context)
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When Hiram thinks back to the day that Rose was sold, he remembers “screams” and “pleading,” as... (full context)
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However, the blue light disappears, and Hiram finds himself back in the cabin where he woke up. When he tries to think... (full context)
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Now those children are gone. Hiram is unsure if showing up at Thena’s house is a good idea, as there are... (full context)
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It takes a year and a half of living with Thena for Hiram to understand the source of her pain. One night he hears her talking to someone... (full context)
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At the end of the workday, Hiram does not at first go back to Thena’s cabin. Then, when he does go, realizes... (full context)
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Thena reminds Hiram that all the wealth of Lockless comes from the tobacco fields. John was favored by... (full context)
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...enslaved people in their community talk about how she is “broken,” but that she thinks Hiram sought her out to take care of him for a reason. She says she can’t... (full context)
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Hiram’s father, Howell Walker, is the master of Lockless. When Hiram occasionally sees him riding through... (full context)
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One Sunday, Hiram is in the Street, performing a song where he sings both the call and response,... (full context)
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The next day, after dinner, Hiram peeks down from the loft to see Boss Harlan speaking with Thena. After he leaves,... (full context)
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However, the next day when Hiram walks up to the house, he shudders with awe, feeling that the house belongs to... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Like all enslaved people, Hiram wakes before sunrise. He spends the day helping others with a variety of jobs, going... (full context)
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...all day, but by the time of the party they all put on fake smiles. Hiram observes the guests, including Maynard’s tutor, Mr. Fields, and the women wearing extravagant clothes. The... (full context)
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...sister with them. Alice drunkenly slaps an enslaved man, demanding that he sing for them. Hiram thinks that it never takes too long for white people to get bored of pretending... (full context)
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After glancing at the card, Hiram gives them to Alice to place face down in a mixed-up order. Each time she... (full context)
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Hiram and the other enslaved people in the house only get a few hours’ sleep, having... (full context)
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Eventually, Mr. Fields shows Hiram a drawing of a bridge, then asks him to draw it from memory. Hiram does... (full context)
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Mr. Fields begins tutoring Hiram, teaching him literacy and math, along with rhetorical skills. Hiram is thrilled by the new... (full context)
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...was only because business was good back then. A week later, Ella herself is sold. Hiram continues to feel both “horrified” and envious of the white people at Lockless. From working... (full context)
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Meanwhile, although Hiram’s intelligence is treated as exceptional, he can see signs of “genius” among all the enslaved... (full context)
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Hiram spends the next seven years working as Maynard’s manservant. Strangely, it takes time for him... (full context)
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Hiram listens to Howell and Maynard discuss a local white man who recently went outside in... (full context)
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...might be best for him not to go at all. Maynard leaves, and Howell asks Hiram to sit with him by the fire for a while. This is a highly unusual... (full context)
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Howell also tells Hiram how terrible it has been to watch “[his] people” be taken off South. Again, he... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Hiram wakes from his dream shaking and cannot fall back asleep. He gets some water from... (full context)
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...to task, though this is because she “belong[s]” to Nathaniel Walker, Howell’s brother. Every weekend Hiram drives Sophia to Nathaniel’s house, then picks her up to bring her back to Lockless.... (full context)
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Seeming a little dazed, Sophia says that she had already imagined Hiram coming to say goodbye to her before race-day, and even heard the conversation in her... (full context)
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As Hiram drives Maynard to the races, Maynard talks the whole way. All the men and women... (full context)
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Maynard gazes at Corrine, but then goes to stand among the low whites. Hiram is always astonished by the position of the low whites in society. They accept horrific... (full context)
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Thinking of Howell’s insistence that Hiram take care of Maynard, Hiram tries to lead them home, but Maynard insists on staying.... (full context)
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...Suddenly, a fight breaks out among a group of white people in the town square. Hiram knows that he could get into trouble just by being there, so walks over to... (full context)
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At Georgie’s house, Hiram is greeted warmly by Georgie and his wife, Amber. Their newborn son is lying in... (full context)
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When Hiram comments that Georgie is now “out” of slavery, Georgie replies that no one really gets... (full context)
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Hiram leaves, but remains convinced that Georgie is testing him. As he walks through town, he... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Hiram is in the water, seeing the blue light and being “guided by [his] dancing mother,”... (full context)
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Hiram falls back asleep and dreams that he is in the water, still trying to save... (full context)
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After speaking with Howell, Hiram finds Sophia talking to Thena, who greets him gruffly. He embraces Thena, and although she... (full context)
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Later that evening, Hiram walks out of the house, passing Pete, who greets him warmly, yet whose words barely... (full context)
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Sophia tells Hiram that she’s from Carolina, and that she had family down there, and a man, with... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Hiram realizes that if the coin is there, then he really must have been in the... (full context)
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Hiram goes to the shed where Howell keeps furniture in need of restoration and gets to... (full context)
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Hiram thanks Hawkins for saving his life, and Hawkins replies that it was Hiram who got... (full context)
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Corrine observes that Hiram had been Maynard’s “right arm,” and that following Maynard’s death he probably doesn’t know what... (full context)
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...restoring the house in preparation for Christmas and the arrival of the extended Walker family. Hiram greets the guests, pleased to see black people who remember him from childhood and who... (full context)
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...because they want to inherit his land when he dies. She then walks off, and Hiram follows her. However, sensing that she wants to be alone, he leaves her again. Back... (full context)
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Though Hiram agrees with Georgie, others around them are annoyed with how sure of his own correctness... (full context)
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Hiram and Sophia discuss Thena, and Sophia observes that she’s been “soft” with Hiram, which is... (full context)
Chapter 7
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The new year comes, and Hiram feels sure that his “days at Lockless [are] numbered.” Approving of the job Hiram did... (full context)
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Sophia and Helen grew up together and were best friends as children. Hiram thinks about how cruel it is to raise children as equals against the backdrop of... (full context)
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Sophia explains that she is telling Hiram this because he knows about the wider world, and because something mysterious happened that enabled... (full context)
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The next day, Hiram goes to see Georgie, who has a grave air about him. Georgie emphasizes that he... (full context)
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Leaving his meeting with Georgie, Hiram passes Amy and Hawkins. Hawkins stops him, asking what brings him to town and then... (full context)
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Hiram suspects that Hawkins has been lying about here he found him after he almost drowned,... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Hiram knows that his fate is tied up with the Virginia families who have grown wealthy... (full context)
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When Hiram meets Sophia, he explains that he imagines Georgie can’t really talk about what he knows... (full context)
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Hiram talks about his dreams of freedom, and he and Sophia spend a while in silent... (full context)
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The day finally comes when Hiram is due to meet Georgie. In the morning he passes Pete, seeing him for the... (full context)
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When the evening finally comes, Hiram walks with Sophia to meet Georgie. They discuss what they are going to do when... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The white men are Ryland’s Hounds. Having tied Hiram and Sophia up with the rope, they march them to the jail at gunpoint. Here,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The next day, Sophia is taken away, though Hiram doesn’t know where. She may have been returned to Nathaniel, sent to Natchez, or sold... (full context)
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Hiram shares a jail cell with others, one of whom is a boy of no more... (full context)
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One night, the old man says that Hiram reminds him of his son. He says he dreams of his son, who was also... (full context)
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Hiram asks the old man his name, but the man replies that it doesn’t matter. He... (full context)
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...doing so. The old man ended up getting together with his daughter-in-law himself. He tells Hiram that he “will not disavow it.” Years later, the old man’s son returned, and in... (full context)
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...man begins to cry, wondering what how his wife will greet him in the afterlife. Hiram doesn’t know what to say. He listens as the man cries himself to sleep. After... (full context)
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One night, after the guards take the old man for their “amusements,” he never returns. Hiram wonders if he has finally gone to “his reward.” Hiram himself remains in the cell... (full context)
Chapter 11
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In the dark pit, Hiram loses all sense of time, unable to distinguish between night and day or detect how... (full context)
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Back in the pit, a long, formless amount of time passes, before Hiram sees a light suddenly appear. A ladder is thrown down to him, and a voice... (full context)
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There is a light in the distance, and as it comes nearer Hiram realizes it is a wagon. As it approaches them, the ordinary man tells Hiram to... (full context)
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A group of low white men get out of the carriages, and Hiram feels a sense of horror as he thinks of the familiar brutality of this class... (full context)
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...cudgel, telling the others to start running. They do so, going alone in different directions. Hiram wonders what he is running toward; he feels that the North is no more than... (full context)
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Hiram falls into mud and feels a kind of relief that he doesn’t have to keep... (full context)
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Hiram also grows more skilled at making it difficult for the hunters to find him, particularly... (full context)
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Hiram can hear the voices of the men pursuing him, and as he runs his foot... (full context)
Chapter 12
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For the first time in weeks, Hiram opens his eyes and sees daylight. He realizes that he has been washed and put... (full context)
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Corrine now explains that regardless of whether Hiram meant to, in killing Maynard he destroyed plans that had been a long tie in... (full context)
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Hiram thinks about Georgie and wonders if his wife, Amber, knew about his betrayal. Corrine now... (full context)
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Corrine continues that they suspected Hiram might have conducted himself back to Lockless, and had agents waiting to see if he... (full context)
Chapter 13
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That evening, Hiram smells food cooking and comes downstairs to find Corrine, Hawkins, Amy, Mr. Fields, and three... (full context)
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Hiram watches two white people come out of the woods in the distance, seemingly a father... (full context)
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At Bryceton, Hiram is trained to be an agent. He also spends time working on furniture. Every night... (full context)
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After a month of life at Bryceton, Hiram comes to meet Mr. Fields and finds Corrine there instead. Hiram is impressed by Corrine,... (full context)
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Hiram spends a week studying the documents before meeting Corrine, who “rigorously” questions him about the... (full context)
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Hiram finds it surprisingly moving to learn such intimate details about the lives of enslavers. At... (full context)
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One day, after another failed experiment, Corrine tells Hiram that his training is nearly complete; he is almost ready to go out into the... (full context)
Chapter 14
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In order to allow Hiram access to the deepest circle of the Underground, Corrine has to trust him completely, and... (full context)
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Hiram feels uncertain, but Corrine reminds him that Georgie effectively tried to kill him. Sending people... (full context)
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Hiram, Hawkins, and Mr. Fields drink three cups of hard cider to prepare themselves. Hawkins tells... (full context)
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...group of them walk for many more hours, before eventually resting in a cave. While Hiram is on lookout, Lucy comes out to join him. She indicates that she isn’t Johns’s... (full context)
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After successfully completing this mission, it is decided that Hiram should be sent north, to Philadelphia. He is given a new identity as a formerly... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Four months after arriving at Bryceton, Hiram leaves. He, Hawkins, and Bland set off, planning to take a slightly longer route in... (full context)
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Hiram gazes at the people in the city. Although most of the rich are white and... (full context)
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Otha takes Hiram to his bedroom, which he feels is a kind of “heaven.” Later, they have dinner... (full context)
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Hiram keeps walking. It occurs to him that if he wanted to, he could “abandon the... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Hiram realizes that what he just experienced was Conduction. Yet he doesn’t want to try it... (full context)
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It is Saturday, and very hot. In the two days Hiram has been in the city, he has seen a few enslaved people. Although they tend... (full context)
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...he would “break [him] good.” Triumphantly, Raymond reminds him that he is not home. After, Hiram and the brothers take Mary and her son back to the house, where they serve... (full context)
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On Monday Hiram takes a job in a woodworking shop, spending three days a week at work there... (full context)
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...is full of family members, including Mars and Hannah. Happy to be in this company, Hiram feels the emotional barriers within him begin to fall. he notices that the love here... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Hiram starts conducting more frequently. He realizes that the woman who sneakily gave him the gingerbread... (full context)
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Hiram wakes up chained, blindfolded, and gagged in the back of a moving cart. He is... (full context)
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Hiram now realizes that the voice inside him that told him to flee the Underground has... (full context)
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...She is the “living master of Conduction.” As they drive back toward Philadelphia, Bland tells Hiram that by shooting the men who kidnapped him, they will “send a message” to others... (full context)
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...Bland deeply, he doesn’t approve of his vengeful murders of the white men who kidnapped Hiram. He believes that Bland owes Hiram an apology. Raymond then admits that he knows where... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Over the next few days, Hiram’s mind remains fixated on Sophia. He fantasizes about her being in Philadelphia and experiencing life... (full context)
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...Alabama in good time, but the mission is so dangerous that no one will force Hiram to do it. Sophia will be rescued regardless. Hiram says he will do it. Raymond... (full context)
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Hiram is thrilled by all the stories of rebellion, from the most minor to the most... (full context)
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Bland’s sister Laura answers the door. Hiram immediately begins discussing the missions that lie before them. Bland says that rescuing Sophia will... (full context)
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Hiram asks why Moses isn’t going down South to save Lydia, considering she has greater control... (full context)
Chapter 19
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That night, Hiram realizes that he will need to talk to Moses if he is ever going to... (full context)
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That night, Bland takes Hiram to Simpson’s house in Washington Square. This fancy neighborhood is built on the mass grave... (full context)
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...says that the papers aren’t good enough and that they need more. On Bland’s indication, Hiram begins looking through Chalmers’s desk, but can find no correspondence with McKiernan. Eventually he and... (full context)
Chapter 20
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While waiting for updates on the mission, Raymond, Otha, and Hiram set off for the big meeting of abolitionists in New York. This is one of... (full context)
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Walking through the convention, Hiram hears orators speaking about the rights of women, indigenous people, and child laborers. One person... (full context)
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Kessiah recalls that Hiram was “always different,” always watching people, just like he was just then when she found... (full context)
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Kessiah cries and tells Hiram that after she and her siblings were sold off, she never saw them again. Most... (full context)
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Hiram keeps walking, this time past jugglers and acrobats. During dinner, a group of black people... (full context)
Chapter 21
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The Underground has given a sense of purpose to Hiram’s life. In the evening on the second day of the convention, Hiram sees Moses sitting... (full context)
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...don’t originate with her. She adds that the only name she answers to is Harriet. Hiram brings up Conduction, but Harriet brushes it off, asking if he is ready to take... (full context)
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Hiram finds a nearby satchel with newspaper articles containing the story of what happened, along with... (full context)
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Otha says that he has noticed Hiram struggling to gain control over his Conduction and wants to tell him a story that... (full context)
Chapter 22
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The convention ends the next morning, and Hiram watches as the campsite is packed up. Kessiah sees Hiram and expresses her condolences, saying... (full context)
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...group is staying overnight at a tavern to break up the journey back to Philadelphia. Hiram finds Hawkins, Amy, and Corrine smoking cigars together and sharing memories of Bland. Hiram joins... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Having returned to Philadelphia, Hiram goes back to his old routine. He starts to see Kessiah regularly. At the beginning... (full context)
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Hiram and Harriet then discuss their upcoming mission in Maryland. She needs passes for two people,... (full context)
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Two weeks later, Hiram meets Harriet in the middle of the night. Harriet looks out over the river and... (full context)
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Harriet remarks that Hiram never knew Abe, but will know him now, through Conduction. She recalls how she was... (full context)
Chapter 24
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In Maryland, the sun is rising. Hiram knows they might not be safe out in the field, so he picks up Harriet... (full context)
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...which Harriet calls “our place.” She says it would be best to answer any questions Hiram has before going there, because there likely won’t be time after. Hiram says that his... (full context)
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...ships would leap into the water and be conducted back to their homes in Africa. Hiram admits that he struggles to remember his childhood, and Harriet asks if he’s ever thought... (full context)
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Hiram admits that he feels Conduction is “chancy,” and he can’t predict when it will happen... (full context)
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Harriet and Hiram go into the cabin; there are enslaved people waiting inside. Harriet introduces Hiram to their... (full context)
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Hiram will be responsible for getting Robert. He walks back through the woods, reaching Robert’s cabin... (full context)
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Robert claims that he is just going to visit family, but Hiram intervenes and explains that this isn’t the truth. He says that Robert is about to... (full context)
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Once Hiram and Robert leave, Robert confesses that he never planned to go back to Mary. They... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...in Philadelphia early the next morning. Henry and Robert help support an exhausted Harriet, and Hiram leads the way to a storehouse where Otha and Kessiah are waiting. Seeing Kessiah, Hiram... (full context)
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...coming up. Robert admits that he feels a duty to go back for Mary, and Hiram says he will speak to Harriet about it, considering it was him who promised to... (full context)
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Later, Hiram tells Harriet that he is going back to Virginia, and Harriet warns him not to... (full context)
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Kessiah hands Hiram a book called The Kidnapped and the Ransomed, which contains the story of Otha’s flight... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Before going back into the coffin, Hiram goes to see Kessiah. She asks how he is doing, and he replies, “Lotta feelings.”... (full context)
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The next morning, Hiram dresses in the style of enslaved people in Philadelphia. Just as he is about to... (full context)
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...while Thena will also be tricky, because the Underground prefers to save younger people. When Hiram goes to meet Corrine and Hawkins, Corrine says that in killing Maynard, Hiram saved her... (full context)
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Corrine and Hawkins are initially highly reluctant, but Hiram insists, and Corrine eventually agrees. The next day, Hiram dons his tasking clothes while Corrine... (full context)
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Over the ensuing hour, several meetings take place. Hiram learns that Freetown has been all but totally destroyed. He walks over and finds Georgie’s... (full context)
Chapter 28
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The next day, Hiram heads to Lockless, feeling overwhelmed with emotion. To his shame, he finds himself praying that... (full context)
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Howell asks how Hiram is finding it at Corrine’s, then adds that, seeing as Roscoe was smaller than Hiram,... (full context)
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That evening, Hiram finds that he doesn’t recognize any of the kitchen staff either. They are old, and... (full context)
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Hiram gathers a few possessions from his old room, including the coin. Then he dresses Howell... (full context)
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The next day is Sunday, and in the afternoon, Hiram goes down to the Street, which has “fallen into disrepair.” According to Thena, Sophia is... (full context)
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Sophia tells Hiram about the vast number of people who have been sold from Lockless. Looking at Caroline,... (full context)
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Later that evening, Hiram expresses his hurt that Thena didn’t tell him about Caroline. He’s realized that Sophia would... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...person Howell sees most is Corrine, who he still views as a surrogate daughter. Yet Hiram is responsible for “everyday companionship” with his father. After dinner, they sit together and drink.... (full context)
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Howell confesses that he is not a “good man,” saying Hiram knows this most of all and that he hasn’t forgotten all the wrong he’s done... (full context)
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While Hiram is taking Howell up to bed, Howell says, “I got plans for you, boy.” He... (full context)
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...for laundry work, which will allow her to eventually buy her freedom. One day, while Hiram is driving Thena to one of her laundry clients, they see Sophia standing with Caroline... (full context)
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After serving Howell dinner, Hiram goes out to the Street to find Sophia. When she sees him she glares at... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Hiram, Thena, Sophia, and Carrie are the only enslaved people at Lockless who are not in... (full context)
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Hiram says that he knew that Caroline was Nathaniel’s daughter as soon as he saw her.... (full context)
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Hiram fetches the rum that Mars gave him from his room in the big house and... (full context)
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...and ask her who had been sold and sent toward Natchez. Sophia would ask about Hiram, and Corrine always assured her that he was alright. Sophia says she can’t believe Hiram... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Hiram has finally mastered Conduction, and this achievement brings him immense joy. He spends his nights... (full context)
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Hiram asks Sophia how she got to Nathaniel’s while he was away, and to his astonishment,... (full context)
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Speaking from a future perspective, Hiram reminisces about how happy he is in this moment. They talk about the falling fortunes... (full context)
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...house has been smashed up proves that the culprits are themselves enslaved. Following the attack, Hiram, Sophia, and Thena all move in together in Thena’s cabin, and they make sure Thena... (full context)
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Hiram observes that Corrine is one of the most “fanatical” Underground agents that he has ever... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Forced to work alone, Hiram realizes that he will have to tell the full truth to both Sophia and Thena.... (full context)
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The people sitting around the fire that Christmas Day appear as visions over the water. Hiram lets go of the horse, and they fall down onto the other side of the... (full context)
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Hiram says that Santi Bess didn’t walk into the water—she danced into it. He says he’s... (full context)
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The next day, Sophia pretends that Caroline is ill so that Thena and Hiram will get time alone together while doing the laundry. While they are working, Hiram tells... (full context)
Chapter 33
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The next morning, after serving Howell breakfast, Hiram goes up to Howell’s study and writes a brief, coded letter to the Philadelphia Underground.... (full context)
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Suddenly, all of Hiram’s forgetting dissolves, and he is finally gripped by the full memory of his mother. This... (full context)
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...freedom, and that means that a person should be able to do whatever they want. Hiram’s plan might not be what Hawkins himself would do, but Hiram is “free and must... (full context)
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Hiram knows they cannot wait much longer to get Sophia and Thena out. He waits two... (full context)
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Hiram then turns to Thena, and says he is about to tell her something that he... (full context)
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Ryland caught Rose and Hiram and brought them to the jail. Howell came to the jail looking “pained,” and asked... (full context)
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However, because the memory of all this was so painful, Hiram forgot it. He continues talking until he is no longer able to—Conduction overcomes them, and... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Hiram wakes up in an unfamiliar bed. Trying to get up, he falls to the floor.... (full context)
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Corrine asks if Hiram will conduct Sophia, too, and he indicates that he will if he needs to. Corrine... (full context)
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Two days after Hiram conducts Thena to freedom, Hiram deliberately shows Howell that he has the necklace, wanting him... (full context)