The Hot Zone

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Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax Character Analysis

A brave, dedicated soldier and scientist (trained as a veterinarian), and a woman in a male-dominated field, Nancy Jaax provides The Hot Zone with a compelling and relatable protagonist. A loving wife to Jerry, a dedicated mother, and a devoted daughter, Nancy has a streak of courage, stubbornness, and patriotism that drives her to risk her life over and over for the sake of the general public. During the Reston Ebola scare, she plays a pivotal role in the decision to isolate and decontaminate the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit, eventually dissecting Ebola-infected monkeys despite the great personal risk this entails.

Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax Quotes in The Hot Zone

The The Hot Zone quotes below are all either spoken by Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax or refer to Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax. 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:
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of The Hot Zone published in 1999.
Part 3, Chapter 1 Quotes

Be exquisitely careful. Know where your hands and body are at all times. If you get blood on your suit, stop what you are doing and clean it off right away. Don’t let blood stay on your gloves. Rinse them off right away. With bloody gloves, you can’t see a hole in the glove.

Related Characters: Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax (speaker)
Related Symbols: Spacesuits and Gloves, Blood and Bleeding
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

The Army begins to prepare for a major operation to sterilize the Reston Monkey House, and Nancy Jaax issues instructions to the soldiers under her command. Despite the fact that all the soldiers will be wearing spacesuits and gloves, her orders emphasize how easily they still might be exposed to Ebola.

This quote also highlights the importance and danger of blood within the narrative. Blood can either give life or—if it is infected—take life away. Nancy's emphasis on blood reminds us of her own near-exposure, while also reminding the soldiers (and the readers) of the billions of viral particles that these monkeys' blood contains. 

It is also important to note the bravery of both Jaax and the soldiers under her command. Despite the immense danger that they are facing, the USAMRIID scientists and soldiers are clear-eyed and unflinching. They understand the importance of their mission, and are committed to keeping people safe, even at the expense of their own well-being. 

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Some of the monkeys that were dying in Room H had become essentially a heap of mush and bones in a skin bag, mixed with huge amounts of amplified virus.

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker), Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax
Related Symbols: Blood and Bleeding
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

As the Army prepares to enter the Reston Monkey House and euthanize the infected primates within it, Preston takes a moment to remind readers of the deadly effects that Ebola has on its victims. It should be noted that Preston is exaggerating the "liquefaction" that Ebola produces, but this in the interest of keeping up his tone of horror and foreboding. His description also emphasizes the fact that the virus not only kills its host, but also increases the chances that others may become infected through the very means with which it kills.

This passage helps us to understand the grave danger in which the scientists and soldiers of USAMRIID find themselves, while also emphasizing the effectiveness of Ebola. It is a virus that has evolved to spread as efficiently and quickly as possible, and is dangerous long after it has killed any individual host. 

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Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax Character Timeline in The Hot Zone

The timeline below shows where the character Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax appears in The Hot Zone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
...incurable infectious diseases, called “hot agents” or “hot viruses.” The employee in this case is Nancy Jaax, one of the narrative’s protagonists. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4: A Woman and a Soldier
Globalization Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...idyllic American town near the Appalachians, and home to a Victorian house owned by Major Nancy Jaax, a US Army veterinarian, and her husband. Nancy is a short but strong woman,... (full context)
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Some officers at Fort Detrick take issue with Nancy’s hands, calling them abrupt and clumsy. As a result of their criticism, as well as... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
On this particular night, Nancy decides to open a can of green beans for her children. Unable to find a... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5: Project Ebola
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
The next day Nancy wakes at 4 AM and dresses in her Army uniform. She considers that she may... (full context)
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy walks into the building and heads for the Level 4 biocontainment area, where she intends... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
When Nancy first asked to be transferred to pathology within USAMRIID, the colonel in charge told her... (full context)
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy Jaax, meanwhile, has volunteered to work on Gene Johnson’s Ebola experiment in order to prove... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
After a morning of paperwork, Nancy stops by Tony Johnson’s office and the two decide to enter the Ebola suite. Alone... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
As Tony Johnson enters, Nancy puts on her Chemturion biological spacesuit, taking special care with its heavy rubber gloves, the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6: Total Immersion
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy Jaax is now standing with Tony Johnson in the mazelike, oppressive hot zone, which is... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy Jaax and Tony Johnson reach the cages of the monkeys who have died during the... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy inspects the monkey, noting nervously that it still has its sharp canine fangs (which are... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Tony Johnson and Nancy lay out the monkey on an autopsy table. They pull on yet another pair of... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy thinks about how much she hates blood, because of the dangerous viruses it can contain.... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy allows herself to be decontaminated for seven minutes in the air lock, and considers what... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
When the decon shower is finished, Nancy takes off the spacesuit, and realizes with horror that the glove has indeed leaked, meaning... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Later that night, Nancy calls Jerry in Texas to tell him about her close shave. He is appalled, and... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
...spread through the air, as this strain of Ebola appears to have done. Years later, Nancy tells the story to Preston, explaining that somehow, Ebola managed to make itself airborne. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9: Going Deep
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
The Army sends Nancy and Jerry Jaax to the Institute for Chemical Defense near Aberdeen, MD. Nancy studies the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4: Thanksgiving
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
From November 20th to 25th, Nancy and Jerry Jaax have “the worst Thanksgiving of their lives.” They arrive in Wichita to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8: Chain of Command
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...Command to set up a meeting. The men decide that they should also bring in Nancy Jaax. The group enters the office where the general, another virus hunter, meets them. Russell... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...or euthanizing all the monkeys, burning their corpses, and dousing the building in sterilizing chemicals. Nancy Jaax asserts that it may be more humane to euthanize the monkeys rather than let... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...can discuss their approach tomorrow over the phone. After the conversation, C. J. Peters tells Nancy Jaax that he wants her on the pone call as well. (full context)
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy walks to Jerry’s office and finds him brooding about his brother. She tells him that... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
...the two get home, Jaime is at gymnastics practice while Jaison is doing his homework. Nancy drives out to pick up her daughter, who falls asleep in the car on the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9: Garbage Bags
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Later in the morning, C. J. Peters, Nancy Jaax, and Gene Johnson head out to Virginia, where they meet Dan Dalgard at the... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Nancy Jaax, Gene Johnson, and C. J. Peters drive to the gas station and wait. As... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...Volt driving. He shows the Army team seven double bags filled with monkey corpses. Peters, Nancy, and Gene are horrified by the possibility of contamination, and Nancy refuses to put the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10: Space Walk
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...Institute with the monkey corpses mid-afternoon, and moves the specimens up to the Ebola suite. Nancy Jaax finds a member of her staffed named Lieutenant Colonel Ron Trotter and tells him... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
...currently dormant, it could come alive once again if it touched living cells (such as Nancy’s cells). (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy cuts into the monkey’s abdomen. Although the spleen is hard and enlarged, the monkey has... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11: Shoot-Out
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
As Nancy dissects the monkeys, C. J. Peters runs a huge meeting in the conference room of... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12: The Mission
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
While Dan Dalgard types, he gets a call from Nancy Jaax, who believes that the monkeys have simian hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, or both—her results are... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13: Reconaissance
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Later that morning, Nancy Jaax and C. J. Peters head to the corporate offices of Hazleton, Washington to speak... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Dan Dalgard invites Peters and Nancy to come with him to the monkey house to look at the animals. He does... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
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Later that evening Jerry drives home, while Nancy returns to her lab to continue working on the monkey samples. While Jerry is home,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1: Insertion
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Meanwhile Nancy wakes her children at 7:30 AM and reminds them that she and Jerry will be... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nancy gets into a scrub suit, puts on her spacesuit, gathers boxes of syringes, and goes... (full context)
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
After Nancy has left, Jerry counts sixty-five more monkeys in the room. He uses a special device... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
At USAMRIID, Nancy Jaax and Ron Trotter stay up till 1 AM dissecting monkeys. This time, the monkeys... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3: Tangos
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
With Nancy still asleep, Jerry Jaax leaves home at 4 AM and meets Gene Johnson, and together... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4: Inside
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Jerry returns home to Nancy, and the two talk while Jaime sleeps between them. Jerry tells Nancy that the mission... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6: Decon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
On December 7th Nancy wakes up at 4 AM to a phone call from her brother: their father’s heart... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...monkey corpses have been coming in from Reston. Most of them are being incinerated, but Nancy has also been dissecting a large number of them in order to understand how exactly... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7: The Most Dangerous Strain
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Preston goes to visit Nancy Jaax. She offers to show him Ebola, and he looks at slides of a monkey’s... (full context)