Annihilation

by

Jeff VanderMeer

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The surveyor is one of the other women on the twelfth expedition. She comes from a military background and is inherently mistrustful of the others. The second time the surveyor and the biologist descend into the Tower, the surveyor becomes concerned that the biologist is seeing and hearing things that the surveyor cannot. After finding the anthropologist’s body in the Tower, the biologist reveals that the psychologist is hypnotizing them and likely caused the anthropologist’s death—and yet, the surveyor continues to mistrust the biologist, worried that the biologist is the one who’s experiencing hallucinations, when in fact the biologist believes that the spores have made her see reality. This illustrates the complicated nature of subjectivity and objectivity, because it’s difficult to establish who—if either of them—is seeing the truth. Ultimately, the women part ways and the biologist travels to the lighthouse; when the biologist returns a day after she said she would, the surveyor shoots and injures her. The biologist fires back, killing the surveyor.

The Surveyor Quotes in Annihilation

The Annihilation quotes below are all either spoken by The Surveyor or refer to The Surveyor. 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 Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar Straus & Giroux edition of Annihilation published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Far worse, though, was a low, powerful moaning at dusk. The wind off the sea and the odd interior stillness dulled our ability to gauge direction, so that the sound seemed to infiltrate the black water that soaked the cypress trees. This water was so dark we could see our faces in it, and it never stirred, set like glass, reflecting the beards of gray moss that smothered the cypress trees. If you looked out through these areas, toward the ocean, all you saw was the black water, the gray of the cypress trunks, and the constant, motionless rain of moss flowing down. All you heard was the low moaning. The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.

Page Number: 5-6
Explanation and Analysis:

Most important, however, I now could guess at one way in which the spores had affected me: They had made me immune to the psychologist’s hypnotic suggestions. They had made me into a kind of conspirator against her. Even if her purposes were benign, I felt a wave of anxiety whenever I thought of confessing that I was resistant to hypnosis—especially since it meant any underlying conditioning hidden in our training also was affecting me less and less.

I now hid not one but two secrets, and that meant I was steadily, irrevocably, becoming estranged from the expedition and its purpose.

Related Symbols: The Tower/The Tunnel
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

I got my shit together because we were going to go forward and the surveyor couldn’t see what I saw, couldn’t experience what I was experiencing. And I couldn’t make her see it.

“Forget it,” I said. “I became disoriented for a second.”

“Look, we should go back up now. You’re panicking,” the surveyor said. We had all been told we might see things that weren’t there while in Area X. I know she was thinking that this had happened to me.

I held up the black box on my belt. “Nope—it’s not flashing. We’re good.” It was a joke, a feeble joke, but still.

“You saw something that wasn’t there.” She wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

You can’t see what is there, I thought.

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Surveyor
Related Symbols: The Tower/The Tunnel
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

I know this information might not be hard for anyone to find out, but I have hoped that in reading this account, you might find me a credible, objective witness. Not someone who volunteered for Area X because of some other event unconnected to the purpose of the expeditions. And, in a sense, this is still true, and my husband’s status as a member of an expedition is in many ways irrelevant to why I signed up.

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Biologist’s Husband, The Surveyor
Related Symbols: The Tower/The Tunnel
Page Number: 55-56
Explanation and Analysis:

How what we had seen below could coexist with the mundane was baffling. It was as if we had come up too fast from a deep-sea dive but it was the memories of the creatures we had seen that had given us the bends.

Related Symbols: The Tower/The Tunnel
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

But there is a limit to thinking about even a small piece of something monumental. You still see the shadow of the whole rearing up behind you, and you become lost in your thoughts in part from the panic of realizing the size of that imagined leviathan. I had to leave it there, compartmentalized, until I could write it all down, and seeing it on the page, begin to divine the true meaning. And now the lighthouse had finally gotten larger on the horizon. This presence weighed on me as I realized that the surveyor had been correct about at least one thing. Anyone within the lighthouse would see me coming for miles. Then, too, that other effect of the spores, the brightness in my chest, continued to sculpt me as I walked, and by the time I reached the deserted village that told me I was halfway to the lighthouse, I believed I could have run a marathon. I did not trust that feeling. I felt, in so many ways, that I was being lied to.

Related Characters: The Biologist (speaker), The Psychologist, The Surveyor, The Crawler
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

Cleaning up a little later, a fit of laughter came out of nowhere and made me double up in pain. I had suddenly remembered doing the dishes after dinner the night my husband had come back from across the border. I could distinctly recall wiping the spaghetti and chicken scraps from a plate and wondering with a kind of bewilderment how such a mundane act could coexist with the mystery of his reappearance.

Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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Annihilation PDF

The Surveyor Character Timeline in Annihilation

The timeline below shows where the character The Surveyor appears in Annihilation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The biologist, the anthropologist, the surveyor, and the psychologist all start out for Area X; they are the first expedition to... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The surveyor is shocked to see the tower, as it is not on any of their maps.... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...she says that she’s excited, even though she feels a growing sense of unease. The surveyor shrugs, and the anthropologist nods. The biologist doesn’t use the others’ names because they were... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...autonomy to decide on what they want to explore, according to their skill sets. The surveyor has medical and firearm experience, the anthropologist was once an architect, and the biologist knows... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...last day of their journey, a 700-pound wild boar appeared and charged at them. The surveyor grabbed the assault rifle to take aim at the boar. However, when the boar approached,... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The morning after the group discovers the tower, they rise early. The surveyor gives them each a handgun and grabs the assault rifle herself as they approach. With... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...structure as a tower, not a tunnel, and the others grudgingly accept her perspective. The surveyor descends first, struggling on the short steps. She calls out that everything is clear to... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...camaraderie—though the biologist writes that it will prove short-lived. The biologist gets along with the surveyor, though she finds herself thinking that the anthropologist seems to lack mental toughness. As night... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...masks and investigate it further. Then the psychologist says, “Consolidation of authority,” and immediately the surveyor and anthropologist go slack, with their eyes unfocused. The biologist tries to mimic what they... (full context)
Chapter 2
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...continue with the expedition, so she went back to the border to await extraction. The surveyor notes that she left her gear, including her gun. The psychologist tries to say that... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Sensing that the psychologist is lying, the biologist knows that she and the surveyor have a choice: they can accept the explanation or reject it, which would only cause... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
At the tower, the surveyor and biologist plan to spend the full day inside while the psychologist stands guard at... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...of living tissue. The biologist sits down next to the wall and frantically presses the surveyor’s hand to it, asking if she can feel the wall. The surveyor is afraid, saying... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
The biologist and the surveyor continue to descend into the tower, and the biologist almost wishes that she weren’t aware... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
The biologist and surveyor are both able to see the words and the creatures living among the words. But... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
After an hour descending the stairs, the surveyor notices that the words seem to be fresher. The biologist asks the surveyor to turn... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
The energy becomes much more charged as the biologist and the surveyor continue to descend, walking more swiftly and speaking quietly. After 20 minutes, they notice a... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
The biologist and surveyor continue to descend into the darkness, and the biologist wonders if her husband took the... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...several feet from her body, and there are also glass vials strewn around her. The surveyor follows, drawing out her assault rifle and aiming it into the darkness. Above the anthropologist... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
The biologist explains her theory to the surveyor, noting that the psychologist has been hypnotizing them while she (the biologist) has been impervious.... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
When the biologist and surveyor emerge, the biologist is shocked at how mundane the outside world feels in comparison. They... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
With the surveyor wondering what to do next, the biologist decides to examine the samples and photographs they... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
The surveyor then examines the photographs they took in the tower, noting that they are all out... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
...again, but the biologist hardly notices it. It begins to rain as the biologist and surveyor eat in silence, and then when they set off for bed, the biologist and surveyor... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...the lighthouse the evening before, and she’s torn between the lighthouse and the tower. The surveyor has no interest in either, even though it might be the psychologist in the lighthouse—she’s... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The surveyor scoffs, realizing that the biologist still thinks that they’re continuing with the mission. The biologist... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The surveyor explains that she has been bothered by the fact that everything they have is made... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...lighthouse. She doesn’t want to travel in the dark, and if she doesn’t return, the surveyor will likely leave without her. (full context)
Chapter 4
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...killed the biologist and asks for water, which the biologist gives. She asks where the surveyor is, and the biologist says back at base camp. The psychologist comments that the surveyor... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
...realizing that her brightness is dulling the pain and shock. She realizes it was the surveyor who shot her. (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
The surveyor calls out to the biologist, asking where the psychologist is. The biologist explains that the... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The biologist can hear the surveyor coming closer, and she sees the surveyor 10 feet ahead of her, crawling through the... (full context)
Self-Reliance, Mistrust, Secrecy, and Isolation Theme Icon
The biologist doesn’t know what to do: she doesn’t want to take the surveyor back to base camp, but she doesn’t want to leave her there. So, she takes... (full context)
Nature, Power, and Persistence Theme Icon
...and she is numb and delirious. In a vision, she sees the anthropologist, psychologist, and surveyor peering down at her as though through water. In a second vision, she sits beside... (full context)
Objectivity vs. Subjectivity Theme Icon
At base camp, the biologist sees that the surveyor has destroyed the tent and the scientific data, and that the weapons are dismantled and... (full context)
The Sublime vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...measuring tools. More supplies remain at the lighthouse. Out back, she also realizes that the surveyor dug a new grave, a mound of dirt to the side of it and a... (full context)