The Drowned World

by

J. G. Ballard

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Drowned World can help.
Colonel Riggs is one of the military men leading the biological testing station through Europe, though his job also includes rescuing people who are still trying to live in the drowned cities. He's kind and jovial. Although he admits that their work of mapping the changing water and landmasses is somewhat futile, he speaks as though he truly believes that humans will someday recolonize the flooded cities. He doesn't experience the dreams and thus finds it very hard to understand or empathize with Beatrice, Kerans, and Dr. Bodkin when they choose to stay behind, or with Lieutenant Hardman when he disappears to head south. He insists that Strangeman be rewarded for draining the lagoon, as that was part of the government's plan for the next ten years.

Colonel Riggs Quotes in The Drowned World

The The Drowned World quotes below are all either spoken by Colonel Riggs or refer to Colonel Riggs. 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 4 Quotes

"Colonel, there isn't any other direction."

Page Number: 71
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 13 Quotes

"Colonel, you've got to flood it again, laws or no laws. Have you been down in those streets; they're obscene and hideous! It's a nightmare world that's dead and finished, Strangeman's resurrecting a corpse!"

Related Characters: Dr. Robert Kerans (speaker), Strangeman, Colonel Riggs
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Drowned World LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Drowned World PDF

Colonel Riggs Character Timeline in The Drowned World

The timeline below shows where the character Colonel Riggs 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
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...in his air-conditioned hotel suite and busied himself with small tasks until now, when Colonel Riggs normally passes the hotel in his patrol boat. Riggs is often ready to chat and... (full context)
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Kerans wonders if he should try to contact Riggs, but remembers that his radio is buried under a stack of books and has a... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
...city he's even in. The narrator explains that at the end of the month, Colonel Riggs and the rest of the unit will finish surveying the city and tow their testing... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
...seals his room behind him. He reaches the landing dock in time to meet Colonel Riggs’s cutter (a type of boat). Riggs greets Kerans and asks him to take the day... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Riggs regularly calls on Kerans to help evacuate the last people who inhabit Europe's drowned cities.... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
When the men reach Kerans’s room, Riggs asks if there are any vacancies at the Ritz. Kerans deadpans that Riggs should check... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
As Kerans gives Riggs a drink, Riggs asks Kerans if he ever listens to his radio. Kerans insists that... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...soon, and he prefers the finery of the Ritz to Camp Byrd. Kerans realizes what Riggs needs help with. Riggs explains that "she" (Beatrice) is refusing to leave and doesn't realize... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Kerans and Riggs head downstairs and board the cutter. Riggs mutters that the work they've been doing is... (full context)
2. The Coming of the Iguanas
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...iguanas watch impatiently from 50 feet away. Macready steers the cutter towards an apartment block. Riggs and Kerans take the elevator, which still works, to the roof. Apartments surround a rooftop... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Riggs pauses to admire Beatrice from the rail until she notices him and reminds him she's... (full context)
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...might stay with her. Kerans brushes this off and says they must prepare to leave. Riggs reminds Beatrice of the rising temperatures and the shrieking iguanas, and says that she certainly... (full context)
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Kerans asks Beatrice why Riggs asked her how she slept. She says that she's had several nightmares, but insists they're... (full context)
3. Towards a New Psychology
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
...Lieutenant Hardman in a private room. Hardman is the senior helicopter pilot and serves as Riggs’s deputy. He's an amateur naturalist and keeps notes of the changing plants and animals, organized... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Kerans gets up to look out the window and watches Macready and Riggs talk on the gangway of the base while he considers Dr. Bodkin's theory. He thinks... (full context)
4. The Causeways of the Sun
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...dresses in his drill uniform to give the appearance that he's going to leave with Riggs. He realizes he's still undecided on this matter, but he hasn't made any real plans... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
...the usual 80 degrees and thinks for a moment that this means he'll go with Riggs, but as he navigates his catamaran towards the base, he realizes that he's indifferent because... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...backwards, but is interrupted by loud noises coming from the base below. Kerans grumbles that Riggs is probably going to leave today in an attempt to catch them off guard, but... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
As the helicopter travels over the lagoons, Kerans, Riggs, and Macready scan the water and vegetation below for signs of Hardman. Kerans realizes that... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Riggs finally declares that searching by air is useless. The helicopter lands on top of a... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...back in the helicopter and heading south. After searching the southern lagoons for 20 minutes, Riggs concedes that if Hardman wants to evade them, he knows how. Kerans’s eye is drawn... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
On the ground, Riggs and Macready find Hardman's makeshift raft, made with two old tanks and a bed from... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Riggs, Macready, and Kerans begin to search the building from the lower floors up. With only... (full context)
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...throws himself at Kerans, just misses colliding with him, and swings over the balcony railing. Riggs enters the apartment moments later and curses. Riggs, Macready, and Kerans run downstairs. (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Riggs pauses at water level and incredulously notes that Hardman is trying to drag his raft... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
...and shoots Wilson in the elbow. Hardman runs for the jungle, pursued by Macready, while Riggs and Kerans help Wilson. When Wilson is stabilized, Kerans runs after Hardman. He follows the... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...Kerans looks out at the square to see Hardman standing in the middle. Macready and Riggs seem like they're asleep and don't notice. Hardman quietly leaves the square and heads for... (full context)
5. Descent into Deep Time
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...dream was a deep one. Kerans asks how 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... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Riggs enters the room and good-naturedly waves his baton at Kerans and Bodkin. He tells Kerans... (full context)
6. The Drowned Ark
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...landing. Daley turns the helicopter so the open hatch faces the windows. Two soldiers hold Riggs as he yells into the megaphone, but Beatrice and Kerans can't hear him. When he's... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Earlier that morning, Riggs had tried to refloat the testing station. He sent the cutter to Beatrice's apartment, only... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Beatrice expresses her relief that Riggs is gone, while Kerans realizes that he'd been dependent on Riggs’s good humor. He realizes... (full context)
7. Carnival of Alligators
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Outside, the plant life is taking over the buildings now that Riggs and his crew aren't around to cut it back. Silt accumulates in the small waterways... (full context)
12. The Feast of Skulls
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...it very clear that he needs to abandon London and move south. He realizes that Riggs represents the past and the demolished suite represents the present, and neither will keep Kerans... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
...grabbed from behind and pulled backwards. Kerans sees men in brown uniforms, headed by Colonel Riggs, advancing towards Strangeman and his crew. Riggs is wielding a machine gun. Although most of... (full context)
13. Too Soon, Too Late
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Riggs is ready to speak with Kerans by 8:00 the next morning. Strangeman and his crew... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Kerans asks Riggs why he doesn't arrest Strangeman, and Riggs incredulously reminds Kerans that killing in self-defense is... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Kerans asks about the looting, and Riggs says that Strangeman is doing humanity a favor by reclaiming abandoned works of art. He... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Kerans implores Riggs to re-flood the lagoon. He insists that the streets are obscene and dead, but Riggs... (full context)
14. Grand Slam
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Kerans observes the party going on on Strangeman's ship from an office building. Riggs is still at the party. He and Strangeman came to an agreement earlier that day... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...the entire silt dam disintegrates and rushes into the lagoon with immense force. Kerans hears Riggs call his name and turns as a shot whizzes over his head. Riggs is running... (full context)
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
...suddenly rushes for Kerans. When she reaches him, she implores him to leave and escape Riggs. Kerans tells Beatrice to tell Riggs he’s sorry for killing Macready. He looks out over... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Memory vs. The Future Theme Icon
Science and Psychology Theme Icon
Birth, Renewal, and Doom Theme Icon
Kerans locates his makeshift catamaran and pushes off into the next lagoon as Riggs continues to shoot at him. When Kerans is able to steer the catamaran behind some... (full context)