Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Lincoln in the Bardo can help.
A bean-sized man with a deep voice who is embedded in the tendril that emerges from the ground and wraps around Willie. Like the other beings in the tendril, this man is in hell. He eventually reveals to the Reverend, Bevins, and Vollman that he was destined for eternal damnation because he and his wife conspired to kill their newborn baby. Despite this horrid act, though, he upholds that he can’t be held accountable for his actions because he was born with certain “predispositions” that rendered him evil.

The Bass Voice Quotes in Lincoln in the Bardo

The Lincoln in the Bardo quotes below are all either spoken by The Bass Voice or refer to The Bass Voice . 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:
Unity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Lincoln in the Bardo published in 2018.
Chapter 80-81 Quotes

We were as we were! the bass lisper barked. How could we have been otherwise? Or, being that way, have done otherwise? We were that way, at that time, and had been led to that place, not by any innate evil in ourselves, but by the state of our cognition and our experience up until that moment.

By Fate, by Destiny, said the Vermonter.

By the fact that time runs in only one direction, and we are borne along by it, influenced precisely as we are, to do just the things that we do, the bass lisper said.

And then are cruelly punished for it, said the woman.

Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Lincoln in the Bardo LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lincoln in the Bardo PDF

The Bass Voice Character Timeline in Lincoln in the Bardo

The timeline below shows where the character The Bass Voice appears in Lincoln in the Bardo. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 80-81
Unity Theme Icon
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
...he might serve out his (infinite) interment there.” As this female voice finishes speaking, a bass voice with a “slight lisp” sounds out, saying, “Mind you, none of this is by our... (full context)
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
...declares that she and the others will not discuss those matters. “Mistakes were made,” adds the bass voice. “My advice?” says a British voice. “Do not massacre an entire regiment of your... (full context)
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
...at least,” chimes the female voice. “Are not being sodomized by a flaming bull,” adds the bass . Suddenly, the Reverend is overcome by disgust, unable to believe he could ever be... (full context)
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
...In a similar fashion, the pedophilic Vermonter blames his “predisposition” for his perversity, just as the bass voice claims that killing his newborn baby was the mere result of his flawed sense... (full context)