The Hot Zone

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Hot Zone, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon

Although much of The Hot Zone is pessimistic and even terrifying, one of its few bright spots is the consistent bravery and teamwork shown by researchers of Ebola, especially the army scientists and soldiers at USAMRIID. Nancy Jaax and her husband Jerry Jaax are prime examples, putting their lives at risk and sacrificing other aspects of their lives in order to ensure that others are safe from a potential Ebola outbreak. Jerry’s team of soldiers, too, displays how vital these qualities are in order to stem the spread of the virus. Although they have a hellish and terrifying job—killing hundreds of Ebola-infected monkeys—they do so with dedication and discretion, understanding that they may need to sacrifice themselves for the good of the general public. Many doctors and researchers with these values appear within the book (such as Dr. Shem Musoke, who contracts Ebola while caring for patients, and Gene Johnson, who tirelessly works to fight Ebola despite the fact that it terrifies him), and it is thanks to them, Preston implies, that the rest of us are able to live our lives oblivious to the dangerous world of pathogens all around us.

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Bravery and Teamwork Quotes in The Hot Zone

Below you will find the important quotes in The Hot Zone related to the theme of Bravery and Teamwork.
Part 1, Chapter 6 Quotes

They were two human primates carrying another primate. One was the master of the earth, or at least believed himself to be, and the other was a nimble dweller in trees, a cousin of the master of the earth. Both species, the human and the monkey, were in the presence of another life form, which was older and more powerful than either of them, and was a dweller in blood.

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

As Army scientists Nancy Jaax and Tony Johnson of USAMRIID prepare to dissect a monkey that has been purposely infected with Ebola, Preston describes them in very different terms. He makes sure to note the humans' kinship to the monkey, reminding readers that genetically, we are all primates, and therefore very similar when it comes to contracting Ebola. This fact will be particularly significant when it becomes clear that the Ebola virus infecting the Reston monkey house is fatal to monkeys, but completely harmless to humans—an unspeakably lucky genetic mystery.

Preston also takes care to emphasize how much "older and more powerful" Ebola is than either monkeys or humans. Although humans are "master[s] of the earth," taking over and studying everything that we find, we can easily be laid low by microscopic organisms such as viruses. Specifically evolved to infect and spread, viruses have existed on this planet for billions of years longer than the human race. While reading his narrative, Preston wants us always remember this fact, and to view viruses as far more dangerous and powerful than humans could ever dream of becoming. 


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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. 

Part 3, Chapter 6 Quotes

The monkey house had been sterilized. Ebola had met opposition. For a short while, until life could re-establish itself there, the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit was the only building in the world where nothing lived, nothing at all.

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker)
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:

At least for the moment, the specter of Ebola infecting the United States populace has faded. In the aftermath, Preston describes the completely sterile Reston Monkey House, calling it "the only building in the world where nothing lived." This phrase illustrates the extreme measures to which the Army has gone in order to cleanse the facility of Ebola. In order to make fully sure that the virus no longer lives within those walls, the operation has killed literally every living thing inside—from monkeys to bacteria to viruses. This episode highlights the extreme precautions taken around this kind of decontamination process, and the power of Ebola, which only the strongest measures imaginable can destroy. 

Even after such a complete sterilization, however, life will soon "re-establish itself there," a testament to the power and resilience of nature. Even after humans have taken every effort imaginable to destroy lifeforms, they will soon inevitably return.