Jordan's estranged father also returns to Pee Dee on a quest of his own restoring his good name in a community which blames him for Chloe Henry's death in childbirth. Chloe was Jordan's mother and his grandmother's only child. Unresolved hostility in the family and in the community breaks out, making Jordan the unsuspecting pawn in a plot of revenge against his father. Jordan may be the only one who can free his family from the past and the equally troubled present.
Trouble the Water gains resonance from its unflinching confrontation with dualities common in the Afro-American experience: reality and myth, folklore and sophistication, North and South, rural and cosmopolitan. While sacrificing none of its complexities for the sake of simplicity, it has the relentless movement of a fairy tale that reaches deep into the unconscious roots of behavior. It is intensely lyrical and dense in realism. Trouble the Water is magical in the way it reveals the Afro-American psyche and symbolizes fundamental truths about American life.