The ocean in The Woman in Cabin 10 symbolizes crushing isolation. As she stands on the Aurora’s deck early in its voyage, Lo observes “the dark gray waves stretched out like a desert—mile upon mile, stretching to the horizon, no sign of land of any kind, nor even a ship … There was literally no way of calling for help.” She is realizing just how isolated she is on the ship, both geographically and in terms of her lonely search for a murderer. She feels something similar a few days later, when she’s imprisoned in the ship’s hold and knows she must be far beneath the waterline: “I felt again the horror begin to creep over me, the tons and tons of water weighing on my head and shoulders, pressing against the hull … and me here suffocating in my own panic…” She’s beyond the help of other passengers, alone with her helpless terror. Again, when they’re docked at Bergen, Lo senses just how easily a murder—including her own—might be concealed, with no one ever knowing what became of her: “I could feel the shifting mass of water all around us … unimaginably deep and cold. A body sunk into those kinds of depths might very easily never be found.” In each instance, the ocean water threatens to completely consume its victims, forever cutting them off from any hope for assistance.
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Ocean appears in The Woman in Cabin 10. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.