Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

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The British Voice Character Analysis

A bean-sized man with a British accent 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. In his case, he was damned because he massacred an entire regiment of his enemy while in the military. Still, he insists to the Reverend, Bevins, and Vollman that he can’t be held accountable for his actions because he was born with certain “predispositions” that rendered him evil.

The British Voice Quotes in Lincoln in the Bardo

The Lincoln in the Bardo quotes below are all either spoken by The British Voice or refer to The British 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

Whatever my sin, it must, I felt (I prayed), be small, compared to the sins of these. And yet, I was of their ilk. Was I not? When I went, it seemed, it would be to join them.

As I had many times preached, our Lord is a fearsome Lord, and mysterious, and will not be predicted, but judges as He sees fit, and we are but as lambs to Him, whom He regards with neither affection or malice; some go to the slaughter, while others are released to the meadow, by His whim, according to a standard we are too lowly to discern.

It is only for us to accept; accept His judgment, and our punishment.

But, as applied to me, this teaching did not satisfy.

And oh, I was sick, sick at heart.

Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
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The British Voice Character Timeline in Lincoln in the Bardo

The timeline below shows where the character The British Voice appears in Lincoln in the Bardo. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 80-81
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
...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 enemy.” Offering his own advice, the... (full context)
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
The Reverend asks these strange voices if they’re in Hell. “Not the worst one,” says the British voice . “Are not compelled to bash our skulls against a series of clustered screw-drivers at... (full context)