The Drowned World

by

J. G. Ballard

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Beatrice Dahl Character Analysis

Beatrice Dahl is the only woman living in London. She lives at the top of an apartment building where her rich grandfather used to live. There, she lives a life of luxury, drinking, spending her days by the pool, and seeing Kerans romantically. She refuses to leave London when Colonel Riggs and the unit receive orders to leave, choosing instead to stay behind with Kerans and Dr. Bodkin. During this time, she continues to maintain her doll-like appearance, though she seldom sees Kerans or Bodkin. When Strangeman arrives in London, she becomes an object of great desire, though she generally declines his advances. After Strangeman kills Bodkin and takes Beatrice captive, Kerans is able to rescue Beatrice from Strangeman's private quarters in his boat. Despite Beatrice's desire to not head north for Camp Byrd, she ends up going north with Colonel Riggs after Kerans escapes and heads south. Just as other characters remain attached to relics from life before the floods, Beatrice’s obsession with maintaining her image—as well as her obsession with the jewels Strangeman gives her—are symbolic of her inability to accept the fact that human civilization as she knows it is over.

Beatrice Dahl Quotes in The Drowned World

The The Drowned World quotes below are all either spoken by Beatrice Dahl or refer to Beatrice Dahl. 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:
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Liveright Publishing edition of The Drowned World published in 2013.
Chapter 2 Quotes

For a few moments Kerans stared quietly at the dim yellow annulus of Ernst's sun glowering through the exotic vegetation, a curious feeling of memory and recognition signaling through his brain.

Related Characters: Dr. Robert Kerans, Beatrice Dahl
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Nor had he tried to follow up any of Bodkin's or Riggs' oblique remarks about the dreams and their danger, almost as if he had known that he would soon be sharing them, and accepted them as an inevitable element of his life...

Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

By and large, each of them would have to pursue his or her own pathway through the time jungles... Although they might see one another occasionally... their only true meeting ground would be in their dreams.

Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

"Dr. Bodkin, did you live in London as a child? You must have many sentimental memories to recapture, of the great palaces and museums." He added: "Or are the only memories you have pre-uterine ones?"

Related Characters: Strangeman (speaker), Dr. Robert Kerans, Dr. Alan Bodkin, Beatrice Dahl
Related Symbols: The Planetarium
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

"The trouble with you people is that you've been here for thirty million years and your perspectives are all wrong. You miss so much of the transitory beauty of life. I'm fascinated by the immediate past--the treasures of the Triassic compare pretty unfavorably with those of the closing years of the Second Millennium."

Related Characters: Strangeman (speaker), Dr. Robert Kerans, Dr. Alan Bodkin, Beatrice Dahl
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Kerans managed to take his eyes off Strangeman's face and glanced at the looted relics.
"They're like bones," he said flatly.

Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

For some reason the womb-like image of the chamber was reinforced rather than diminished by the circular rows of seats, and Kerans heard the thudding in his ears uncertain whether he was listening to the dim subliminal requiem of his dreams.

Related Symbols: The Planetarium
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

No longer the velvet mantle he remembered from his descent, it was no a fragmenting cloak of rotting organic forms, like the vestments of the grave. The once translucent threshold of the womb had vanished, its place taken by the gateway to a sewer.

Related Symbols: The Planetarium
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Drowned World PDF

Beatrice Dahl Character Timeline in The Drowned World

The timeline below shows where the character Beatrice Dahl appears in The Drowned World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. On the Beach at the Ritz
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
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...Ritz to Camp Byrd. Kerans realizes what Riggs needs help with. Riggs explains that "she" (Beatrice) is refusing to leave and doesn't realize that once this unit leaves, there won't be... (full context)
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...doing is absurd, and that much of Europe is a "confounded zoo." He continues that Beatrice will be truly insane if she stays, and asks Kerans how he's sleeping these days.... (full context)
2. The Coming of the Iguanas
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...surround a rooftop pool on three sides, while the open side looks onto the lagoon. Beatrice lies on a deck chair by the pool flipping through a magazine, dressed in a... (full context)
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Riggs pauses to admire Beatrice from the rail until she notices him and reminds him she's "not a strip show."... (full context)
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Beatrice asks if Kerans’s use of "they" means that he might stay with her. Kerans brushes... (full context)
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Kerans lies back on his chair, and Beatrice sits at his feet. Kerans apologizes for losing his temper and says that the order... (full context)
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Kerans asks Beatrice why Riggs asked her how she slept. She says that she's had several nightmares, but... (full context)
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Near noon, both Kerans and Beatrice go inside. Beatrice lounges on a sofa and Kerans admires a painting of dancing, naked,... (full context)
3. Towards a New Psychology
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...catamaran (a type of boat) alongside the base and lets himself in. He waves at Beatrice before he closes the door, but she turns away. Macready steps out from the guard's... (full context)
4. The Causeways of the Sun
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...Kerans does already have a month's worth of canned food stored at the Ritz, and Beatrice has three months' worth of frozen delicacies at her apartment. The fuel situation is somewhat... (full context)
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...tow the testing station towards the base. Rather than join the crew, he paddles to Beatrice's apartment. He can see her moving inside through the blinds, and she finally comes outside,... (full context)
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Kerans finds Beatrice lounging in bed. He turns down the thermostat and tries to take her whiskey from... (full context)
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When Kerans returns, Beatrice seems fully recovered and is painting her nails. He tells her that the timing device... (full context)
5. Descent into Deep Time
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...exactly is going on in his mind. He pulls himself together when he remembers that Beatrice has these dreams too, and realizes how courageous she is. He also realizes that he's... (full context)
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...many experience the dreams. Bodkin says that Riggs doesn't, but about half his men and Beatrice do. Bodkin continues that he's been having them for three months, and it's the same... (full context)
6. The Drowned Ark
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The next morning, Kerans and Bodkin watch from Beatrice's apartment as the helicopter tries to land on the roof of the building. Earlier, Bodkin... (full context)
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...that morning, Riggs had tried to refloat the testing station. He sent the cutter to Beatrice's apartment, only to find the elevator out of order, which culminated in his attempt to... (full context)
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Beatrice expresses her relief that Riggs is gone, while Kerans realizes that he'd been dependent on... (full context)
7. Carnival of Alligators
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...knows that when he reaches the end, the real world will be unbearable. Bodkin and Beatrice seem similarly wrapped up in their own private dream worlds. Bodkin is entirely lost in... (full context)
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Kerans sees more signal shells over the far lagoon where Beatrice's apartment is, and then more from further off. Kerans understands that the hydroplane is a... (full context)
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...Kerans spends the next half hour fighting iguanas as he crosses the 200 yards to Beatrice's apartment. (full context)
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When Kerans finally steps out of the elevator, Beatrice embraces him and asks if he's seen the alligators. He tells her that one nearly... (full context)
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...technically illegal, but the authorities are usually happy to pay for the things looters pillage. Beatrice points to Dr. Bodkin down below on the testing station, who is hailing one of... (full context)
8. The Man With the White Smile
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Kerans, Dr. Bodkin, and Beatrice sit with the hydroplane pilot, Strangeman, who has changed into a crisp white suit. He... (full context)
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...the immediate past, which he finds far more interesting than the Triassic era. Turning to Beatrice, Strangeman notes that she looks melancholic and tired. Beatrice insists that they're often tired, and... (full context)
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As he watches Strangeman show Beatrice the treasures, Kerans thinks of the Delvaux painting of skeletons. Instantly, Kerans begins to dislike... (full context)
9. The Pool of Thanatos
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Strangeman invites Kerans, Bodkin, and Beatrice to a diving party. He has already begun to court Beatrice, but she habitually refuses... (full context)
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At 7:00am, the Admiral collects Kerans, Dr. Bodkin, and Beatrice and takes them to the depot ship. Kerans is skeptical of Strangeman's assurance that the... (full context)
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...the alligator and Big Caesar as though he wants the alligator to win. He turns Beatrice to watch as well, and seems disappointed when his crew hoists the alligator's decapitated head... (full context)
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...then "the church." Strangeman declares the diver a fool and sends others down as Kerans, Beatrice, and Bodkin sip cocktails. Beatrice asks Kerans if he's going to dive. He assures her... (full context)
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...Kerans makes a joke about the treasure, which seems to anger Strangeman. Strangeman insists that Beatrice dive. She refuses, but Strangeman says that she'll be "a Venus descending into the sea."... (full context)
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...and he probably wouldn't go through with it unless he was also planning to kill Beatrice and Bodkin. (full context)
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...Strangeman is responsible for what happened, Strangeman insists that he didn't try to kill him. Beatrice tries to comfort Kerans and assures him it was an accident, but Strangeman insists that... (full context)
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...is suicidal and an acceptance of the truth of neuronics. Finally, Kerans, as well as Beatrice and Dr. Bodkin, repress their memories of the dive. (full context)
10. Surprise Party
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...has enough energy to attend a party, especially since he hasn't seen Dr. Bodkin or Beatrice since the diving party. Strangeman calls regularly on Beatrice, though from what Kerans can ascertain... (full context)
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...with Kerans that Strangeman's moods change quickly and unpredictably. Strangeman meets Kerans, Dr. Bodkin, and Beatrice at the gangway. Beatrice is dressed in a turquoise gown and wears turquoise mascara, while... (full context)
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...and Kerans thinks that Strangeman's party mimics the canvas. He points out the resemblance to Beatrice and suggests that Strangeman wants her to "subdue the floodwaters" in a manner similar to... (full context)
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...looks into the lagoon and sees the water looking lifeless, and yells for Bodkin and Beatrice to come see: the water level is going down. They watch buildings appear slowly out... (full context)
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...but Strangeman's good mood disappears when Dr. Bodkin recognizes where they are in the city. Beatrice watches Strangeman leave the deck and tells Kerans that he's insane. Kerans thinks that Strangeman's... (full context)
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Beatrice says that the city is hideous and like Hell. Kerans suggests that they go south... (full context)
11. "The Ballad of Mistah Bones"
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Beatrice, Kerans, and Dr. Bodkin walk the streets a half hour later. Strangeman and his crew... (full context)
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...the silt, which creates the dams around the lagoon, piled up on the streets. Kerans, Beatrice, and Bodkin approach the planetarium. Kerans is almost afraid to approach it. When they reach... (full context)
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...gets lost and stumbles upon a small caiman. It pursues them onto an open street. Beatrice slips as the angry caiman approaches, but Strangeman appears with the Admiral and Big Caesar... (full context)
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...Bodkin after a few days, and Bodkin seems similarly distraught and isolated. He can't remember Beatrice's name, but tells Kerans to take her away to another lagoon. Kerans tells Bodkin he's... (full context)
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...to warn Bodkin, but finds that Bodkin has abandoned his hideout in the testing station. Beatrice spends her days in a reverie similar to the one that consumes Kerans, but joins... (full context)
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...and Big Caesar to stop Bodkin from exploding the dam. Everyone except for Kerans and Beatrice runs after them. Kerans watches Bodkin leave the bomb in the middle of a dam... (full context)
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...then chases after Bodkin, and Kerans can hear shots being fired. He wanders back to Beatrice and hears footsteps behind him. Strangeman, Big Caesar, and the Admiral are there, and the... (full context)
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Beatrice throws herself at Strangeman and promises that she and Kerans won't hurt him. She tears... (full context)
12. The Feast of Skulls
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Kerans yells for Beatrice. It was a miracle that Kerans survived full exposure to the previous day’s noon sun,... (full context)
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...dark, but seems not to spot him. Kerans sneaks into Strangeman's saloon where he finds Beatrice in a mahogany chair, still wearing her ball gown. (full context)
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Kerans quietly parts the beaded curtain and steps in. Beatrice pays no notice, and Kerans notices that there are chests surrounding her filled with jewels.... (full context)
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Grabbing Beatrice, Kerans leads her through the ship and declares that they'll have to leave via the... (full context)
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Kerans gives Beatrice his gun and walks out to Strangeman. When Strangeman begins to charge at him, he... (full context)
13. Too Soon, Too Late
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...successful in draining the city, they might eventually reoccupy it. He insists that Kerans and Beatrice need to return to Camp Byrd, and tells Kerans to be grateful that he arrived... (full context)
14. Grand Slam
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...that day and Riggs is successfully masking his distaste for Strangeman. Kerans watches Riggs and Beatrice leave the party and climb the testing station, which is serving as the landing pad... (full context)
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Beatrice suddenly rushes for Kerans. When she reaches him, she implores him to leave and escape... (full context)
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...Kerans is able to steer the catamaran behind some buildings, he looks back and sees Beatrice waving from the top of a building. Kerans takes a final look at the Ritz... (full context)
15. The Paradises of the Sun
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...thinks of his last years. He thinks of his "neuronic odyssey," of Strangeman, and of Beatrice. Finally, he scratches a message on the wall that reads it's his 27th day and... (full context)