Burial Rites

Blöndal is a District Commissioner in Iceland and the owner of the farm Hvammur. As District Commissioner, Blöndal enjoys luxuries typically only available in mainland Denmark. Blöndal is calculating and cold and he enjoys lording his authority over the other characters. Blöndal was a friend of Natan's because Natan cured his wife of a deathly illness. By making an example out of Agnes and Fridrik, Blöndal hopes to encourage order in Iceland.

Björn Blöndal Quotes in Burial Rites

The Burial Rites quotes below are all either spoken by Björn Blöndal or refer to Björn Blöndal. 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:
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of Burial Rites published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He had grown corpulent since his posting as District Commissioner and was accustomed to the more spacious dwelling provided for him and his family at Hvammur, built from imported wood. The hovels of the peasants and farmers had begun to repel him, with their cramped rooms constructed of turf.

Related Characters: Björn Blöndal
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“Why not Sigga?” Tóti asked in a small voice.
Blöndal shook his head. “The maid of sixteen who burst into tears as soon as I summoned her? Sigga didn’t even attempt to lie—she is too simple-minded, too young to know how. She told me everything. How Agnes hated Natan, how Agnes was jealous of his attentions to her. Sigga is not bright, but she saw that much.”

Related Characters: Björn Blöndal (speaker), Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jónsson (Tóti) (speaker), Agnes Magnúsdottir, Natan Ketilsson, Sigrídur Gudmundsdóttir (Sigga)
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Tóti nodded, and slowly picked up the swan feather… “You mean to make an example of her,” he said quietly.
“I mean to deliver God’s justice here on earth,” Blöndal said, frowning. “I mean to honor the authorities who have appointed me by fulfilling my duty as a lawkeeper.”
…“I hear that you have appointed Gudmundur Ketilsson as executioner.”
…“I do not have to explain my decisions to you, Reverend. I am not accountable to parish priests. I am accountable to Denmark. To the King…We are not her to discuss my performance. We are here to discuss yours.”

Related Characters: Björn Blöndal (speaker), Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jónsson (Tóti) (speaker), Agnes Magnúsdottir, Gudmundur Ketilsson
Page Number: 164-165
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occ

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Björn Blöndal Character Timeline in Burial Rites

The timeline below shows where the character Björn Blöndal appears in Burial Rites. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
...it will be held the following day. The notice is signed by District Commissioner Björn Blöndal. (full context)
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Next, Kent presents a letter to a reverend from Björn Blöndal, responding to a prior letter in which the reverend inquired about the burial of Pétur... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
In the next letter of the chapter, Björn Blöndal writes to Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jónsson (Tóti). First, he extends his congratulations to Tóti for... (full context)
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...moved from Stóra-Borg to Kornsá. Agnes has requested Tóti for spiritual guidance, which is why Blöndal is writing to him. Blöndal conveys his hesitation, saying that Tóti has little experience, but... (full context)
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
After Blöndal’s letter, the novel begins a third-person narrative, which opens with Tóti’s father, Reverend Jón, walking... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...in a hurry. The man greets Steina and then introduces himself as District Commissioner Björn Blöndal, Steina’s father’s superior. Steina tells Blöndal that neither her father nor mother is home. (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Blöndal asks to come inside. Steina shows Blöndal where to tie his horse and leads him... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...is weeding in the garden when Steina comes looking for her. Steina tells Lauga that Blöndal is there. Lauga criticizes her sister for leaving “a man like Blöndal” in their house... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Lauga trots back to the house, tidies herself, and goes into the parlor to greet Blöndal. She apologies for her sister’s behavior and silently hopes that Blöndal has come to offer... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...To her annoyance, Steina (instead of Kristín) emerges from the kitchen carrying the food for Blöndal. Blöndal asks which of the two of them is older, and Lauga tells Blöndal that... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Blöndal tells the girls that he had intended to talk to their father, but that since... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Blöndal rises from his chair and walks to the window. Blöndal tells the girls that the... (full context)
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Steina grows angry as she realizes that Blöndal means to lodge one of the criminals in their house. Blöndal tells her he will... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...to the third-person as Jón Jónsson and Margrét set out for home, three days after Blöndal’s visit to their daughters Steina and Lauga. Margrét coughs violently as they ride back. As... (full context)
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...Lauga and Steina are silently collecting water from the stream, having ignored each other since Blöndal’s visit. Lauga worries that Steina’s impertinence towards him will hurt their family, while Steina worries... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
...news as Jón changes his clothes, but Margrét interrupts her. Finally, Lauga tells Jón that Blöndal paid a visit while they were away to deliver a letter. Jón asks for the... (full context)
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...to reject the request, but Jón ignores her and rides to Hvammur to talk to Blöndal. (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...Jón explains that, as a District Officer, he is obligated to fulfill his responsibility to Blöndal. Margrét is angry, asking why he, of all the District Officers, must shoulder this responsibility.... (full context)
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...again to the third person, which now follows Tóti as he leaves church. He accepted Blöndal’s offer to visit Agnes a month ago, and has lived in self-doubt ever since. As... (full context)
Chapter 2
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...that, unlike Agnes, she is “too young and sweet to die.” According to the man, Blöndal supports Sigga’s appeal but not Agnes’s. Tóti asks what he should call the prisoner, and... (full context)
Chapter 3
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...their care. Róslín says that she actually came by because she heard a rumor that Blöndal had moved Agnes to Kornsá. She says it is because the family Agnes was with... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...means when he talks about her “absolution.” Tóti explains that he received a letter from Blöndal saying Agnes had requested him to be her spiritual guide, and that they all want... (full context)
Chapter 4
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Chapter Four begins with a letter from Blöndal to the Deputy Governor of North-East Iceland, informing him that Blöndal has decided to purchase... (full context)
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...follow Tóti after he leaves Kornsá, feeling unsuccessful. He intends to write a letter to Blöndal relinquishing his responsibilities with Agnes, but he is too embarrassed, and so does not write... (full context)
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
The third person narrative resumes, describing Tóti riding to Kornsá the next morning. He passes Blöndal’s house and wonders how Agnes felt during her trial there. When Tóti arrives at Kornsá,... (full context)
Chapter 5
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...wants to make a petition or an appeal to help Agnes, and tells her that Blöndal made an appeal to commute Sigga’s sentence. Agnes, shocked and upset, walks away from Steina... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...be innocent. Agnes also points out that, if God commanded people not to kill, then Blöndal is going against God’s law. (full context)
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...from Jóas when he was one year old. Agnes quietly asks Tóti to talk to Blöndal about creating a petition for her, as Steina suggested. Tóti hesitantly agrees and asks Agnes... (full context)
Chapter 7
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...of too much freedom as a child. This testimony is followed by a letter from Blöndal to Tóti, asking to meet with him next week to deliver a report on Agnes’s... (full context)
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
The chapter then resumes its third-person narrative as Tóti arrives at the Blöndal homestead to give his report. He greets Blöndal and his servants and Blöndal welcomes him... (full context)
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Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Blöndal dismisses Karitas and brings Tóti to his study. Tóti begins to give his report on... (full context)
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Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Blöndal draws Tóti’s attention to a jar of swan feather quills on his bookshelf. He offers... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...maid knocks on the door and brings in food and coffee, interrupting the conversation. As Blöndal eats, he tells Tóti that his methods show his inexperience. Blöndal describes the murders in... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Tóti points out that Agnes did not actually kill them, but Blöndal thinks that Agnes killed Natan. Blöndal believes that, after Fridrik killed Pétur, he lost the... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Blöndal then begins to tell Tóti about Fridrik’s spiritual process. When he was first arrested, Fridrik... (full context)
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Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Blöndal asks if Agnes is similarly repentant, and Tóti tells him she does not talk about... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Tóti leaves Blöndal’s office, now doubting Agnes’s words. Karitas, Blöndal’s servant, then approaches Tóti and tells him that... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Tóti tells Karitas that he knows opinions about Natan are divided. Karitas tells him that Blöndal liked Natan because Natan healed his wife. Karitas asks Tóti not to tell Blöndal she... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...breathe as she churns, feeling that it is somehow intimate. Tóti thinks again about everything Blöndal said to him. Once the butter is finished, Tóti suggests that they go outside. Agnes... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Tóti tells Agnes that he talked with Blöndal. He tells her that Blöndal wants them to change the structure of their meetings, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...sick of waiting for her execution. She wonders why it is so delayed, thinking that Blöndal must want her to suffer with anticipation. Agnes thinks that maybe she will go to... (full context)
Chapter 11
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...of supplies for the winter, and Margrét tells her it is because of the compensation Blöndal is giving them for keeping her. (full context)
Chapter 13
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Chapter Thirteen opens with a letter to Blöndal from a representative in Copenhagen. The letter presents several documents to Blöndal, including the court’s... (full context)
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
...and that the bodies should be buried without Christian burial rites. The secretary also reminds Blöndal that he must return the axe to Copenhagen after the execution. (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
Class, Colonization, and Hierarchies of Power Theme Icon
Next, Kent shows a letter to the District Officers from Blöndal, confirming the date of Fridrik and Agnes’s executions for January 12. Blöndal reminds them that... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...woken by a knock on his door. He answers it to find a messenger from Blöndal. Tóti reads the letter then quickly dresses. His father, concerned about his health, asks Tóti... (full context)
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
...and Margrét goes to get Jón. Once Jón arrives, Tóti hands Jón the letter from Blöndal proclaiming the date of Agnes’s execution. The family at Kornsá had not yet heard about... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...days until the execution, and Tóti tells her six. Agnes asks if Tóti could beg Blöndal for an appeal, and Margrét backs Agnes up, saying the crime was not her fault.... (full context)
Epilogue
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Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
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The epilogue takes the form of a document written by Blöndal confirming that Fridrik and Agnes were both led to the execution place. Fridrik was killed... (full context)