The Woman in Cabin 10

by

Ruth Ware

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Johann Nilsson Character Analysis

Nilsson is head of security on the Aurora. He is a big, bearlike man of about forty. He shows kindness to Lo after she reports the presumed murder, but he also second-guesses her reliability on the basis of her mental state and undermines her with the other staff, making her feel belittled and dismissed.

Johann Nilsson Quotes in The Woman in Cabin 10

The The Woman in Cabin 10 quotes below are all either spoken by Johann Nilsson or refer to Johann Nilsson. 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:
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scout Press edition of The Woman in Cabin 10 published in 2016.
Chapter 12 Quotes

We were passing the crew’s cabins again, and as we passed the few open doors I glanced in, shocked afresh at the dinginess of the cramped quarters. I couldn’t imagine spending week after week, month after month, in the windowless confines […] [I]t was [not] the space itself that shocked but the contrast with the light, airy rooms above […] But it was the graphic illustration of the gap between the haves and have-nots that was upsetting, a modern upstairs-downstairs in action.

Related Characters: Laura “Lo” Blacklock (speaker), Johann Nilsson
Related Symbols: Light
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

…[T]he kind of publicity that an unexplained death would generate could sink the whole enterprise. Something like this could scupper the Aurora before she was even launched, and if that happened, everyone on board could lose their jobs, from the captain down to Iwona, the cleaner.

I knew that.

But I had heard something. Something that had made me start from my sleep with my heart pounding two hundred beats per minute, and my palms wet with sweat, and the conviction that somewhere very close by, another woman was in grave trouble. I knew what it was like to be that girl—to realize, in an instant, how incredibly fragile your hold on life could be, how paper-thin the walls of security really were.

Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

Cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, psychotherapy—none of it really worked in the way that the pills did. Lissie says she finds the notion of chemically rebalancing your mood scary, she says it’s the idea of taking something that could alter how she really is. But I don’t see it that way; for me it’s like wearing makeup—not a disguise, but a way of making myself more how I really am, less raw. The best me I can be.

Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

If someone had been walking along the deck outside and had glanced in the window, they would never have known that I had just told him something that could deal a sucker punch to his business, and revealed the presence of a possible psychopath on board a small ship. As my story unfolded I was expecting echoes of Nilsson’s distress, or the clannish denial of the stewardesses, but although I watched Bullmer’s face carefully, I saw neither of those, no hint of accusation or censure […] With Bullmer, I couldn’t tell what he was feeling. Was he furious, or panicked, and simply hiding it well? Or was he really as cool and calm as he seemed?

Page Number: 194-195
Explanation and Analysis:
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Johann Nilsson Character Timeline in The Woman in Cabin 10

The timeline below shows where the character Johann Nilsson appears in The Woman in Cabin 10. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
...stranger touching her things makes her want to cry. Then the head of security, Johann Nilsson, arrives. Lo describes what she’s heard, but when they go outside to look, there is... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
Nilsson looks sympathetically at Lo, making her angry. He takes her next door, where they see... (full context)
Chapter 11
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
Nilsson explains that Cabin 10 had been reserved for another guest who withdrew from the trip... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
After Nilsson leaves, Lo is too wired to sleep. She’s furious, but a nasty voice in the... (full context)
Chapter 12
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Wealth and Power Theme Icon
Lo sleeps after all, but she’s awakened by Johann Nilsson the next morning. Lo, feeling seasick, regrets asking him to return so early. Nilsson tells... (full context)
Wealth and Power Theme Icon
...smell of institutional cooking, reinforces the impression of difference between the upper and lower decks. Nilsson introduces Lo to some of the staff, and they speculate about the identity of the... (full context)
Ambition and Compassion Theme Icon
Wealth and Power Theme Icon
When Nilsson notices Lo’s discomfort, he mentions that the Aurora’s staff accommodations are much nicer than those... (full context)
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Ambition and Compassion Theme Icon
...body falling through the “swirling blackness” to rest on the “lightless seabed.” As she and Nilsson chat about the ship’s northward course, Lo is startled to learn that there’s been a... (full context)
Chapter 13
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...was there, but that she had interrupted the girl in the middle of something. Despite Nilsson’s approach of interviewing the staff, Lo also doesn’t believe that the girl, with her expensively... (full context)
Chapter 14
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
...if she’s seen the mascara, which she hasn’t since the night before. Lo then calls Nilsson, who comes to see her. While she waits for him, Lo feels violated and taken... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
When Nilsson arrives, Lo explains about the missing mascara. Nilsson reaffirms that all the staff have been... (full context)
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
...on—those pills for years,” and that she has anxiety attacks, not delusions. She angrily tells Nilsson that just because she takes antidepressants, it doesn’t give him the right to dismiss what... (full context)
Chapter 15
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
Lo bangs on Ben’s cabin door and angrily asks him how he could have told Nilsson these things about her. Ben, distressed, tells her he’d been hungover and didn’t understand why... (full context)
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Lo agrees with Ben that Nilsson’s reluctance to believe her makes sense, since crime taking place in international waters is a... (full context)
Chapter 17
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
...call for help, the letters on the mirror fade, and she realizes that even if Nilsson comes, he won’t believe what she saw. (full context)
Chapter 20
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...by Bullmer’s stoic reaction, unsure what he’s actually feeling. Finally, Bullmer promises to speak with Nilsson and the captain and suggests that Trondheim, the next day’s stop, is the nearest place... (full context)
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
Wealth and Power Theme Icon
After Bullmer gives a sympathetic smile, Lo abruptly tells him about Nilsson’s reaction to her drinking and medication. Bullmer apologizes for the way Lo was treated and... (full context)
Chapter 21
Entrapment and Isolation Theme Icon
Trauma, Mental Illness, and Resilience Theme Icon
Wealth and Power Theme Icon
...promises to protect Karla if she shares any information, Karla looks upset. She says that Nilsson says that Lo is paranoid and attention-seeking, that she and the other staff need their... (full context)