The Water Dancer

by

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland Character Analysis

Micajah Bland, who is first introduced via his fake identity as Mr. Fields, is a white Underground agent who infiltrates Lockless by working as Maynard’s tutor. Once Mr. Fields witnesses Hiram’s intelligence and power of memory, he offers to tutor Hiram as well, thereby teaching Hiram to read and write (a skill enslaved people were usually banned from acquiring) and passing on further knowledge and skills with the surreptitious aim of training Hiram as an Underground agent. After Hiram falls into the hands of Corrine and the Virginia Underground at Bryceton, he re-encounters Mr. Fields, who travels with him up to the station in Philadelphia. It is here that Mr. Fields reveals that his real name is Micajah Bland. Hiram and Bland become close; they develop a deep emotional connection, and at one point Bland saves Hiram’s life after he is kidnapped by slavecatchers. Bland is courageous, headstrong, and altruistic. Indeed, he is the only white character in the novel who is shown to behave in a genuinely noble manner. Bland volunteers to go on a highly dangerous mission to save Otha White’s wife Lydia and their two children from slavery in Alabama. During the journey back to Philadelphia, Lydia and the children are captured. Although Bland has the option of saving himself, he refuses to leave them behind and ends up being killed as a result.

Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland Quotes in The Water Dancer

The The Water Dancer quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland or refer to Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland. 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 21 Quotes

“Micajah Bland was not my blood, but he was so much my brother that he would die for me and mine. I am not young to any of this. I lived divided from my blood, and made brothers wherever I lived, and grieved every time we were divided—and we were always divided. But I have never, for an instant, shied away from connection, from love.”

Related Characters: Otha White (speaker), Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Water Dancer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Water Dancer PDF

Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland Character Timeline in The Water Dancer

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Fields/Micajah Bland appears in The Water Dancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...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, and get... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...answers, adding “drama and embellishment.” Everyone is smiling in astonishment, even the enslaved servers—all except Mr. Fields . (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...Howell, who smiles at him. Behind him, Maynard sits at a writing desk, accompanied by Mr. Fields . Howell asks that Hiram spend some time with Mr. Fields, and Hiram politely agrees.... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Eventually, Mr. Fields shows Hiram a drawing of a bridge, then asks him to draw it from memory.... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Mr. Fields begins tutoring Hiram, teaching him literacy and math, along with rhetorical skills. Hiram is thrilled... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...all the enslaved people living at Lockless. A year after he first starts studying with Mr. Fields , Hiram goes to his lesson to find Howell there, saying, “It’s time.” He explains... (full context)
Chapter 4
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...men looking smart and the women glamorous. Hiram sees a few people he recognizes, including Mr. Fields , who tips his hat at him. Hiram feels bad for Maynard, who so obviously... (full context)
Chapter 7
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...is suspicious, and Hawkins says he doesn’t mean to pry. At that moment Hiram spots Mr. Fields walking over as if coming to meet Amy. Seeing Hiram, it seems as if Mr.... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...has somehow caught Hawkins in that lie. He tips his hat at Hawkins, Amy, and Mr. Fields and walks off. Although he doesn’t know it at the time, the fact that these... (full context)
Chapter 13
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
That evening, Hiram smells food cooking and comes downstairs to find Corrine, Hawkins, Amy, Mr. Fields , and three unknown black people. Seeing Hiram, Corrine invites him to join them. The... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...are all white, some Quality and some Low. Meanwhile, Hiram also resumes his studies with Mr. Fields , picking up where they left off as if no time has passed at all.... (full context)
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
After a month of life at Bryceton, Hiram comes to meet Mr. Fields and finds Corrine there instead. Hiram is impressed by Corrine, but also intimidated. He feels... (full context)
Chapter 14
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Mr. Fields says he doesn’t understand. He tells Hiram that his real name is Micajah Bland, and in doing so has placed his life in Hiram’s hands. He asks that Hiram... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...keeps the same name, but with the addition of the surname Walker. He, Hawkins, and Bland will travel by train, with Hawkins posing as an enslaved man owned by Bland. Hiram... (full context)
Chapter 15
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Four months after arriving at Bryceton, Hiram leaves. He, Hawkins, and Bland set off, planning to take a slightly longer route in order to avoid areas where... (full context)
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...in more luxury than he’d ever seen on Howell. They arrive at a house where Bland and Hawkins are already waiting, drinking coffee with another black man who Hiram immediately sees... (full context)
Chapter 17
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...campfire. However, suddenly shots ring out, and Hiram is freed from his chains by Micajah Bland. Two other men stand with him. Hiram is overcome with a sudden, uncontrollable fury, and... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...but a selfish one. Now it is overtaken by a commitment to family. Led by Bland, they walk toward a woman who checks that Hiram is ok. She asks him what... (full context)
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
...the Vanisher. 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”... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
The next morning, Raymond notes that although he trusts Bland deeply, he doesn’t approve of his vengeful murders of the white men who kidnapped Hiram.... (full context)
Chapter 18
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
...Hiram deserves to be reunited with Sophia and reiterates that they have a plan involving Bland to get her out. However, the timing is bad, as they are also working on... (full context)
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
Raymond says that someone needs to help Bland get to Alabama in good time, but the mission is so dangerous that no one... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...of the many who have seized their own freedom. The next day, Hiram goes to Bland’s house. The kidnapping has left him nervous about traveling through the city. On the way,... (full context)
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
Bland’s sister Laura answers the door. Hiram immediately begins discussing the missions that lie before them.... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...going down South to save Lydia, considering she has greater control over her Conduction, but Bland explains that Moses “has her own promises to keep.” He then explains that he met... (full context)
Chapter 19
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...ever going to be able to properly understand—and gain control over—Conduction. The next day, he, Bland, Otha, and Raymond discuss the preparations for Lydia’s rescue. Bland explains that they need extremely... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
That night, Bland takes Hiram to Simpson’s house in Washington Square. This fancy neighborhood is built on the... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
A white servant whom Bland addresses as Chalmers comes out of the house. He hands a package of documents to... (full context)
Chapter 20
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...to “remake” the whole world. A messenger approaches Hiram and hands him a letter from Bland. Hiram brings it to Otha. The letter states that Bland has Lydia and the children;... (full context)
Chapter 21
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...Hiram finds him wailing into Raymond’s shoulder, hardly able to stay standing. He announces that Bland is dead, and Lydia is back in the “coffin.” Raymond and some other men take... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...in the tent. Hiram expresses his sincere apologies, and with great sadness Otha says that Bland was his “brother.” Although Otha’s heart has repeatedly been broken by being separated from his... (full context)
Chapter 22
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...campsite is packed up. Kessiah sees Hiram and expresses her condolences, saying that she knows Bland meant something to him. Hiram feels comforted, and senses that Kessiah is the older sister... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...to Philadelphia. Hiram finds Hawkins, Amy, and Corrine smoking cigars together and sharing memories of Bland. Hiram joins them and confesses that he is to blame for Bland’s death. However, Hawkins... (full context)
Chapter 23
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...to meet with him. When Hiram tells her that he is not coping well with Bland’s death, she reminds him that they are involved in a war, and that Bland was... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...the middle of the night. Harriet looks out over the river and says, “For Micajah Bland.” Then she keeps walking, leaning on her walking stick. She tells Hiram that they must... (full context)
Chapter 24
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Robert does not come. Hiram knows that he should probably just leave, but ever since Bland’s death he can’t bear the idea of leaving anyone behind. He enters the cabin, and... (full context)
Chapter 27
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...will need to persuade Corrine to help free them, which may be a challenge without Bland. (full context)