The Water Dancer

by

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Quality Term Analysis

The social category to which upper-class or slaveholding white people belong.
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Quality Term Timeline in The Water Dancer

The timeline below shows where the term Quality appears in The Water Dancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...aspirational figure. Still young, he is only just beginning to understand the distinction between the Quality and the Tasked, and dreams about the life of “splendor and regale” that the Quality... (full context)
Chapter 3
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...his position, there is something particularly difficult about being in such close proximity to the Quality and seeing the injustice so clearly as a result. That night, Hiram dreams that all... (full context)
Chapter 4
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...he insists that Sophia doesn’t live on his property. She dresses “like a lady of Quality” when she goes to see him, but still uses the back entrance. Nathaniel also keeps... (full context)
Broken Families Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Maynard to the races, Maynard talks the whole way. All the men and women of Quality are there, the men looking smart and the women glamorous. Hiram sees a few people... (full context)
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...of the low whites in society. They accept horrific degradation at the hands of the Quality just so they can in turn oppress and degrade the Tasked. Hiram, meanwhile, goes to... (full context)
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...he walks through town, he sees items of clothing strewn about, and a man of Quality lying face down in a pile of manure. He sees Maynard, very drunk and standing... (full context)
Chapter 6
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
...his “genius must be kept hidden.” This surprises Hiram, who is not used to the Quality speaking like this. When Hiram attempts to make a polite comment about Maynard, Corrine interrupts... (full context)
Chapter 13
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...hour. The men who lead the agents through this training regime are all white, some Quality and some Low. Meanwhile, Hiram also resumes his studies with Mr. Fields, picking up where... (full context)
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...recognizes some of his own loneliness in her. She reflects that as a woman of Quality, she was encouraged to have an education, but that any knowledge she gained was supposed... (full context)
Chapter 15
Water, Movement, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...that time does not have a separate car for black people. This is because “The Quality [keep] their Tasked ones close the way a lady keeps her clutch, closer even.” The... (full context)
Chapter 24
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
...watching. He sees two low whites going out for a hunt, and a mix of Quality and Tasked children playing together. Once night falls, he goes back to greet Harriet, who... (full context)
Chapter 29
Memory vs. Forgetting Theme Icon
Broken Families Theme Icon
Stolen Skills, Power, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Inhumanity Theme Icon
...Hiram to tell him a story, which Hiram does—a story about the esteemed families of Quality in Elm County back in the old days. The next day, Corrine comes for a... (full context)