The Water Dancer

by

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Water Dancer can help.
Maynard is Hiram’s half-brother and Howell’s only “legitimate” child, making him the heir to Lockless. As a teenager, Maynard is childlike, helpless, and foolish, and he remains so after becoming an adult. Realizing that Maynard desperately needs the help of a more intelligent and responsible person, Howell assigns Hiram to be Maynard’s personal manservant starting when the boys are teenagers. As Maynard gets older, he struggles to fit in with the world of Virginia high society. He is vulgar and rude, fond of drinking excessively, spending too much money, and hiring sex workers. He is killed when Hiram accidentally crashes the carriage in which Maynard is riding into the River Goose. Hiram tried to teach Maynard to swim when they were younger, but Maynard was never able to learn. As a result, he dies by drowning. At the time of his death, he is engaged to Corrine, an arrangement she craves because it will afford her greater power and because she thinks Maynard will be easy to dupe/manipulate.

Maynard Walker Quotes in The Water Dancer

The The Water Dancer quotes below are all either spoken by Maynard Walker or refer to Maynard 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 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

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:
Get the entire The Water Dancer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Water Dancer PDF

Maynard Walker Character Timeline in The Water Dancer

The timeline below shows where the character Maynard Walker appears in The Water Dancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...on her head filled with water which, despite her movements, does not spill. Hiram’s half-brother, Maynard, sits with a “fancy girl” (sex worker) in the back of the carriage. Yet only... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
It is autumn, and Maynard has just won a bet at the races, though after he was shunned by other... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...The current is strong, and Hiram can’t see the fancy girl, but he can hear Maynard shouting, “Help me, Hi!” In the past Hiram has tried to teach Maynard to swim,... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...lies beyond “the Task.” However, he is then brought back to the mortal world by Maynard’s screams. Maynard disappears, and Hiram knows immediately that he is dead. Returning to his vision,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...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 guests play cards, eat cake,... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...they “have something better than any Negro song.” Hiram spots a deck of cards that Maynard uses in his lessons on a table. Each of the cards has a rhyme on... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...the guests. In the morning, Hiram runs into Howell, who smiles at him. Behind him, Maynard sits at a writing desk, accompanied by Mr. Fields. Howell asks that Hiram spend some... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...this opens to him. He can tell that Mr. Fields prefers to teach him than Maynard, who is unintelligent and rude, constantly embarrassing himself and Howell in front of company. He... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...recognized that Hiram had a “particular talent,” and that he is appointing Hiram to be Maynard’s personal manservant. Howell notes that most enslavers would sell Hiram for a huge sum of... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Hiram spends the next seven years working as Maynard’s manservant. Strangely, it takes time for him to see this setup as the “insult” it... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Quinn, “perhaps the wealthiest woman in all of Elm County,” who he hopes will become Maynard’s wife. Although Corrine is “superior to Maynard in every way,” she still needs him; her... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Hiram listens to Howell and Maynard discuss a local white man who recently went outside in a blizzard and froze to... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Maynard discusses the races taking place the next day. He is determined to prove himself, even... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...“[his] people” be taken off South. Again, he insists that Hiram take good care of Maynard, and Hiram promises that he will. After Howell leaves, Hiram reflects that although any enslaved... (full context)
Chapter 4
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...water from the well and thinks about all the enslaved people chained to the clueless Maynard. At 19, he should be thinking about finding a wife, but has seen too much... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
As Hiram drives Maynard to the races, Maynard talks the whole way. All the men and women of Quality... (full context)
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Maynard gazes at Corrine, but then goes to stand among the low whites. Hiram is always... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Thinking of Howell’s insistence that Hiram take care of Maynard, Hiram tries to lead them home, but Maynard insists on staying. Quickly dissatisfied with his... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...and a man of Quality lying face down in a pile of manure. He sees Maynard, very drunk and standing outside the brothel with a fancy girl. Next to him is... (full context)
Chapter 5
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...falls back asleep and dreams that he is in the water, still trying to save Maynard, who is drowning. When he next awakes, Howell is standing before him, sobbing. Howell tells... (full context)
Chapter 6
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...be “the only escape.” He sees Corrine Quinn’s carriage coming up the road. Ever since Maynard’s death, Corrine has been regularly visiting Howell to lead him in prayer. (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...like to speak with him. Hiram finds Corrine speaking with Howell, fondly sharing memories of Maynard, their hands clasped together. When Hiram enters, Howell exists, leaving him with Corrine and her... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...to be “family,” and that she doesn’t see why that should not still happen despite Maynard’s death. She says she’s heard that Hiram is a “genius,” but understands that his “genius... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Corrine observes that Hiram had been Maynard’s “right arm,” and that following Maynard’s death he probably doesn’t know what to do with... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Maynard’s body is never found. The enslaved people at Lockless work hard restoring the house in... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Thena observes that Howell’s family members are “flattering” him regarding Maynard because they want to inherit his land when he dies. She then walks off, and... (full context)
Chapter 11
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...memory. He is young; it is the first year he is assigned to work for Maynard. Maynard asked Hiram to gather together a large group of Tasked; he then told them... (full context)
Chapter 12
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Corrine now explains that regardless of whether Hiram meant to, in killing Maynard he destroyed plans that had been a long tie in the making. She and Hawkins... (full context)
Chapter 27
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...younger people. When Hiram goes to meet Corrine and Hawkins, Corrine says that in killing Maynard, Hiram saved her from a terrible marriage, but ruined years of planning. Now that she... (full context)
Chapter 28
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...as Roscoe was smaller than Hiram, it might be better if Hiram took some of Maynard’s old clothes instead. He also says that Hiram can stay in Maynard’s old room. Howell... (full context)
Chapter 29
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...his father. After dinner, they sit together and drink. One night, Howell starts talking about Maynard. He says that his own father never loved him and only cared about “station,” and... (full context)