The Ghost Map

The Pump Handle Symbol Analysis

The Pump Handle Symbol Icon

After all his work, John Snow realized that the Broad Street water pump was responsible for the cholera epidemic of 1854. He lobbied the local government to remove the pump handle, and there was no further outbreak of disease. The Broad Street pump handle symbolizes Victorian England’s alarming ignorance of health and sanitation, as well as the danger lurking beneath the façade of civilization.

The Pump Handle Quotes in The Ghost Map

The The Ghost Map quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Pump Handle. 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:
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of The Ghost Map published in 2007.
Chapter 7 Quotes

Snow's argument was persuasive—and, besides, they had few other options. If Snow was wrong, the neighborhood might go thirsty for a few weeks. If he was right, who knew how many lives they might save? And so, after a quick internal consultation, the Board voted that the Broad Street well should be closed down.

Related Characters: John Snow
Related Symbols: The Pump Handle
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Pump Handle Symbol Timeline in The Ghost Map

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Pump Handle appears in The Ghost Map. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: The Pump Handle
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
On the morning of Friday, September 8, the Broad Street pump handle was removed. The deaths would continue in Soho for another week, and none of the... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
The removal of the Broad Street pump handle probably didn’t seem like a major event. But it was quietly momentous—a public institution had... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
At first, Henry Whitehead thought the pump handle ’s removal was a foolish choice. He was so displeased, in fact, that he vowed... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
...the Broad Street pump once more. Had Snow not convinced the authorities to remove the pump handle , the outbreak probably would have continued. (full context)
Chapter 8: Conclusion
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
Shortly after the pump handle was removed from the Broad Street pump, an engineer named Edmund Cooper began researching the... (full context)