Thena is an old woman who lives at Lockless and has a reputation for being the meanest person on the Street (the area of the plantation where the enslaved people live). After Hiram goes to live with her as a child, he realizes that she is not really mean, just heartbroken by the pain of losing her husband, Big John, to a fever, and having her children be sold. Thena is a tough woman who does not show a great deal of outward emotional affection, yet who is extremely caring and loyal deep down. She takes Hiram in as a surrogate son even though it is painful for her to do so after her own children were taken away. When Hiram reunites with one of Thena’s daughters, Kessiah, he arranges a reunion between Kessiah and her mother. Thena initially reacts to this with horror, but later explains that this is because she is afraid of the pain that will resurface if she sees Kessiah again. Thena eventually agrees to let Hiram conduct her to Philadelphia, where she spends the rest of her life living with Kessiah in freedom.
Thena Quotes in The Water Dancer
The The Water Dancer quotes below are all either spoken by Thena or refer to Thena. 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: 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 2 Quotes
Thena Character Timeline in The Water Dancer
The timeline below shows where the character Thena appears in The Water Dancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...given for the week, then gathers his clothes and marbles—his only possessions—and walks over to Thena’s cabin. Although most people on the Street are sociable, Thena “ke[eps] to herself.” Nowadays she... (full context)
...is unintelligent and rude, constantly embarrassing himself and Howell in front of company. He remembers Thena’s insistence that Howell is not his “family,” but also cannot help but fantasize that he... (full context)
...and Sophia spend a while in silent contemplation. Then Sophia leaves and Hiram runs into Thena. He suddenly feels very different from Thena and the other older people at Lockless, who... (full context)
Taking Sophia will be dangerous because she is Nathaniel’s prized possession, while Thena will also be tricky, because the Underground prefers to save younger people. When Hiram goes... (full context)
...brings him immense joy. He spends his nights with Sophia, theoretically keeping this secret from Thena, until she reveals she knows by telling him she is happy for him. However, more... (full context)
...to them, challenging their belief in their own goodness. Hiram demands that both Sophia and Thena be liberated immediately, but Corrine says there is already a plan in place, from which... (full context)
...to the Philadelphia Underground. He informs Harriet that he is going to try and get Thena and Sophia out using Conduction. Hiram then helps Howell with his own correspondence and waits... (full context)