The Water Dancer

by

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Conduction Term Analysis

A superpower that enables a person to move rapidly travel through time and space using memory. Hiram and Harriett, and Santi Bess possess this ability.

Conduction Quotes in The Water Dancer

The The Water Dancer quotes below are all either spoken by Conduction or refer to Conduction. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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:
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

“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 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 32 Quotes

“Was a big king who come over from Africa on the slave ship with his people. But when they got close to shore, him and his folk took over, killed all the white folks, threw ’em overboard, and tried to sail back home. But the ship run aground, and when the king look out, he see that the white folks’ army is coming for him with they guns and all. So the chief told his people to walk out into the water, to sing and dance as they walked, that the water-goddess brought ’em here, and the water-goddess would take ’em back home.

And when we dance as we do, with the water balanced on our head, we are giving praise to them who danced on the waves. We have flipped it, you see?”

Related Characters: Sophia (speaker)
Related Symbols: Water Dancing
Page Number: 379
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Water Dancer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Water Dancer PDF

Conduction Term Timeline in The Water Dancer

The timeline below shows where the term Conduction appears in The Water Dancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Rose. He is not sure how exactly, but it was this memory that facilitated his Conduction. (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
...of the country than “these Jeffersons, these Madisons, these Walkers.” She then notes that the “Conduction” which allowed Hiram to escape drowning in the Goose is the same power Santi Bess... (full context)
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...that they had to test to see if he had indeed inherited the power of Conduction. (full context)
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Corrine continues that they suspected Hiram might have conducted himself back to Lockless, and had agents waiting to see if he showed up there.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...time, he learns about another person in the Underground who also has the power of Conduction. She is “beloved and famed” all over the North and has been granted the nickname... (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
...powerful memory. However, they desperately need him to be able to master his power of Conduction. The current techniques they possess are not enough to rescue people from the “coffin” of... (full context)
Chapter 16
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Hiram realizes that what he just experienced was Conduction. Yet he doesn’t want to try it again, because every time he conducts it leaves... (full context)
Chapter 17
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 starts conducting more frequently. He realizes that the woman who sneakily gave him the gingerbread was Emma.... (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
...nicknames, including The General, The Night, and the Vanisher. She is the “living master of Conduction.” As they drive back toward Philadelphia, Bland tells Hiram that by shooting the men who... (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
...pretended not to know where she was. This anger brings on the blue light of Conduction, but before long Hiram resurfaces in Bland’s house, albeit feeling “disorientated.” Hiram eats dinner with... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Moses isn’t 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... (full context)
Chapter 19
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...to Moses if he is 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... (full context)
Chapter 21
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...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 the job with... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Otha says that he has noticed Hiram struggling to gain control over his Conduction and wants to tell him a story that he hopes might help. He says that... (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
...that she doesn’t believe in her “own miracles,” but that she has seen others—not just Conduction, but even one man who “self-resurrected.” (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
Harriet remarks that Hiram never knew Abe, but will know him now, through Conduction. She recalls how she was sent to trap varmints in the swamps at only seven... (full context)
Chapter 24
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Harriet likens Conduction to the ability to see bridges between islands that others can’t, and to journey across... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Hiram admits that he feels Conduction is “chancy,” and he can’t predict when it will happen or where it will take... (full context)
Chapter 30
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
...and Sophia lie upstairs in bed, marveling at each other. Hiram feels he truly understands Conduction for the first time. He gets dressed, and as he goes Sophia hands him the... (full context)
Chapter 31
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 has finally mastered Conduction, and this achievement brings him immense joy. He spends his nights with Sophia, theoretically keeping... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...tour of the grounds. While they are alone, he tells her it is time to conduct Thena and Sophia to the North. He explains about the attack on Thena’s house, and... (full context)
Chapter 32
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...everything that happened with the Underground and Philadelphia, he explains that he is planning to conduct both her and Thena to freedom. Sophia reacts with anger, resentful that Hiram left her... (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
...riverbank. He tells Sophia, “It’s like dancing.” He shows her again and again, performing short Conductions to prove how it works. The final vision he summons is of a woman water... (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
...into it. He says he’s learned that the “deeper” the memory he recalls, the farther Conduction takes him. The problem is that he needs an object linked to a memory that... (full context)
Chapter 33
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...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 for him to have his... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...but doesn’t receive one, and thus knows he must press on alone. He arranges to conduct Thena on a Saturday night. He, Sophia, and Thena eat a “feast” together and then... (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
...was a water trough there, and it was via this water that he first experienced Conduction. (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
...was so painful, Hiram forgot it. He continues talking until he is no longer able to—Conduction overcomes them, and he is lost in a swirl of visions. A green light appears,... (full context)
Chapter 34
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Corrine asks if Hiram will conduct Sophia, too, and he indicates that he will if he needs to. Corrine replies that... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
Two days after Hiram conducts Thena to freedom, Hiram deliberately shows Howell that he has the necklace, wanting him to... (full context)