Prof. Jessica Penner | OL05 | Fall 2020

Amna Ahmed, “The Water Dancer” Critique


Creative Writing

Formal Critique

Formal Critique: Anma Ahmed  

Title: The Water Dancer Author: Ta-Nehisi

Plot: The story is about Hiram who is a slave and Maynard who is his master. Throughout the story, Hiram says he is chained to Maynard and can never be free of him. As Hiram and Maynard cross the bridge, suddenly they fell into the water where they died.

Question: Hiram knew how to swim, however he still died. Did he commit suicide?

Characters: There are two characters, Hiram and Maynard. Hiram is Maynard’s slave. Hiram has done many things for Maynard like clothing hime every morning and putting him to bed every night. Maynard is carless and intolerant when nothing comes out of swimming.

Question: Did Hiram intentionally drown because he no longer wanted to be linked to Maynard?

Point of View: The story is in first person point of view told by Hiram. Through Hiram, the readers learn how he feels about being a slave. How he feels chained to Maynard. The readers also see Hiram’s thought process when he drowns. How he feels finally free.

Question: How would Maynard describe Hiram if the story was told in his point of view?

Voice & Style: At times, the story was difficult to read. There were some words that I did not know and for some sentences I needed to read twice. Something that I noticed was how the author repeatedly used the word “blue”. Blue is symbolic for death or heaven. When the mother is mentioned the color blue is also mentioned. Once Hiram is thrown in the water, he sees a blue light.


  1. Angelica Salazar

    Hi Anma, great critique. I liked how you mentioned the word “blue” was repeated I also noticed that, blue seems to have a great meaning to the main character Hiram. I also liked how you gave a description to how the characters in the story were portrayed, there was a lot more information as to how arrogant Maynard was.

  2. malik lee

    Hi Anma, I like how descriptive with the characters because reading I didn’t visualize them as being a slave & master. Along with Angelica I like the use of the word “blue” to describe Hiram’s late mother.

  3. Adama Barro

    Hello Anma i like your understanding and description of the story, you have a great critique.
    I have a different opinion than you on the characters, but what you say make me see the story on different angle.
    Good job!

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