Watchmen

Watchmen

by

Alan Moore

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Jon Osterman is a blue-skinned superhuman and the only person in the story who possesses actual superpowers. After Jon, a Harvard scientist, accidentally locks himself in a radiation test chamber, he dies and is reborn as Dr. Manhattan, a being who has complete mastery over the laws of physics and matter, can look backward and forward through time, and can teleport himself and other people at will, making him effectively a god-like figure. As soon as Jon becomes a superhero, the American government claims him as their ultimate weapon, naming him Dr. Manhattan to evoke memories of the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb. At the start of the story, Jon dates Laurie, though he struggles to relate to her or any human now that he is no longer human himself. Laurie leaves him, and in the same evening, a reporter accuses him of causing dozens of close friends and associates to get terminal cancer, which makes him so upset that he leaves Earth and lives on Mars. Although Jon wants to be rid of his attachments to humanity, Laurie helps him realize that human life is still meaningful because of how rare it is, and he returns to Earth to try to prevent the end of the world. When Jon and Laurie return to New York City, they witness the carnage Adrian Veidt’s plan has wrought and go to Antarctica to find him. Veidt briefly tries to kill Jon, and Jon in turn tries to kill Veidt, but they both stop fighting when they hear on the news that Veidt’s plan worked: the Americans and the Soviets have declared peace, so Jon accepts Veidt’s actions. Although Veidt wants Jon to stay with him and help him build Earth into a new utopia, Jon decides he wants to create life on a new planet and disappears.

Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) Quotes in Watchmen

The Watchmen quotes below are all either spoken by Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) or refer to Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan). 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:
Heroes, Villains, and Vigilantes Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the DC Comics edition of Watchmen published in 1986.
Chapter 2: Absent Friends Quotes

Osterman: You sound bitter. You’re a strange man, Blake. You have a strange attitude to life and war.

Blake: Strange? Listen… Once you figure out what a joke everything is, being a comedian is the only thing makes sense.

Osterman: The charred villages, the boys with necklaces of human ears… these are part of the joke?

Blake: Hey… I never said it was a good joke. I’m just playin’ along with the gag…

Related Characters: Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) (speaker), Edward Blake (The Comedian) (speaker)
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4: Watchmaker Quotes

They explain that the name [Dr. Manhattan] has been chosen for the ominous associations it will raise in America’s enemies. They’re shaping me into something gaudy and lethal… It’s all getting out of my hands.

Related Characters: Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) (speaker)
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

As I come to understand Vietnam and what it implies about the human condition, I also realizes that few humans will permit themselves such an understanding.

Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. Perhaps it simply is, has been, will always be there… A clock without a craftsman.

Related Characters: Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Clocks
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

It is the oldest ironies that are still the most satisfying: man, when preparing for bloody war, will orate loudly and most eloquently in the name of peace.

Related Characters: Milton Glass (speaker), Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan)
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6: The Abyss Gazes Also Quotes

This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us.

Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9: The Darkness of Mere Being Quotes

Juspeczyk: Humanity is about to become extinct. Doesn’t that bother you? All those dead people…

Osterman: All that pain and conflict done with? All that needless suffering over at last? No… No, that doesn’t bother me. All those generations of struggle, what purpose did they ever achieve? All that effort, and what did it lead to?

Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

Osterman: Look at it—a volcano as large as Missouri, its summit fifteen miles high, piercing even the atmospheric blanket. Breathtaking.

Juspeczyk: Breathtaking? Jon, what about the war? You’ve got to prevent it! Everyone will die…

Osterman: And the universe will not even notice.

Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:

Thermodynamic miracles…Events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such things. And yet in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that precise daughter…

Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12: A Stronger Loving World Quotes

Juspeczyk: Dan, all those people, they’re dead. They can’t disagree or eat Indian food, or love each other… Oh, it’s sweet. Being alive is so damn sweet.

Dreiberg: Laurie? Wh-what do you want me to do?

Juspeczyk: I want you to love me. I want you to love me because we’re not dead […] I want to see you and taste you and smell you, just because I can.

Page Number: 404
Explanation and Analysis:

Veidt: I did the right thing, didn’t I? It all worked out in the end.

Jon: “In the end”? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.

Related Characters: Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) (speaker), Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) (speaker)
Page Number: 409
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Watchmen LitChart as a printable PDF.
Watchmen PDF

Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) Character Timeline in Watchmen

The timeline below shows where the character Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) appears in Watchmen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: At Midnight, All the Agents…
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...assassination. Rorschach thinks this unlikely, since no country would dare challenge America while they have Dr. Manhattan on their side. Veidt thinks the Comedian was “practically a Nazi,” but Rorschach defends the... (full context)
Heroes, Villains, and Vigilantes Theme Icon
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...the event as a patriot’s “moral lapse,” which infuriates Laurie. Dr. Manhattan, whom Laurie calls Jon, tells Rorschach he must leave, and teleports him outside into an empty field. (full context)
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...station, the confrontation with Rorschach still bothers Laurie—she thinks Rorschach is “sick inside his mind.” Jon is doing something with a complicated machine. Laurie tells Jon that she needs a night... (full context)
Chapter 2: Absent Friends
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While Jon attends Edward Blake’s funeral, Laurie visits her mother in a retirement home in California. Laurie... (full context)
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Jon stands at Blake’s funeral and recalls the day that he and Blake were waiting to... (full context)
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...as he stalks the streets. He thinks about what Moloch told him and wonders if Dr. Manhattan is in danger somehow. Returning to Blake’s grave, Rorschach pays his respects alone, reflecting that... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Judge of All the Earth
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At their military facility, Jon and Laurie start to have sex. Laurie’s eyes are closed, but she realizes there are... (full context)
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...is installing a new lock on Daniel’s door. Laurie tells Daniel about her fight with Jon and how he barely notices the people around him—even now, after she’s left him, he’s... (full context)
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Jon Osterman teleports himself into the TV station for his interview. A producer talks Jon through... (full context)
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...Laurie goes to find a hotel. Daniel goes into Hollis’s house and finds him watching Jon’s botched interview on TV. On the street corner, the news vendor looks at the new... (full context)
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When Jon returns to the facility where he lives, he finds an officer fixing a “quarantine” sign... (full context)
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On the street corner, the news vendor talks to the doomsayer about Dr. Manhattan ’s disappearance. They suspect the Communists are somehow to blame. In the pirate comic, the... (full context)
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...agent tells her that she’ll need to be screened for cancer. He blames Laurie for Dr. Manhattan ’s leaving and doubts that he’ll ever come back. Now that he’s gone, the government... (full context)
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...news that he tells the man to keep the pirate comic for free. On Mars, Jon walks alone, carrying the photograph. (full context)
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In the 1960s, Dr. Manhattan appears—the first true “super-hero,” who makes all the other heroes obsolete. Hollis thinks that Dr.... (full context)
Chapter 4: Watchmaker
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Jon sits on Mars, looking at the photograph he took from the bar. He experiences all... (full context)
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In 1948, Jon attends Princeton. In 1958, he graduates from Harvard with a Ph.D. in physics. He takes... (full context)
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In 1959, a month after the amusement park and hotel, Jon accidentally locks himself in the radiation test chamber. The machine starts up for a scheduled... (full context)
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At Christmas in 1959, Janey struggles to adjust to Jon’s new form. Jon takes her in his arms and tells her that he will always... (full context)
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...the newspapers label Dr. Manhattan a “crimefighter,” so he starts fighting crime and killing people. Jon notes, “The morality of my activities escapes me.” In 1961, Jon shakes President Kennedy’s hand.... (full context)
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In 1963, Janey shouts at Jon when he tells her he knew that J.F.K. would die—she thinks he should’ve stopped it,... (full context)
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In 1971, President Nixon asks Jon to fight in the Vietnam War. Two months later, Jon meets the Comedian in Saigon.... (full context)
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...for a third term. Ozymandias retires and reveals himself as the business magnate Adrian Veidt. Jon and Laurie meet with him and marvel at his genetically altered giant pet lynx, Bubastis.... (full context)
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...work directly for the government. Rorschach refuses to quit, but everyone else retires. In 1981, Jon and Laurie move into their new home in the Rockefeller Military Facility in New York... (full context)
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On Mars, Jon floats in the air and forms a glass clockwork palace from the sand out of... (full context)
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In an excerpt from Milton Glass’s “ Dr. Manhattan : Super-powers and the Superpowers,” Glass writes that the great paradox of the 20th century... (full context)
Chapter 5: Fearful Symmetry
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...him, rebuking him for having an unlicensed handgun. Rorschach says that it’s suspicious that both Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian, Moloch’s old enemies, have recently disappeared, especially since Moloch was on the... (full context)
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Rorschach leaves, deciding that Moloch is only a pawn in someone else’s plan to discredit Dr. Manhattan and kill the Comedian. Down the street, two detectives investigate a murder-suicide. A father, convinced... (full context)
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Laurie meets with Daniel at a café. Now that Jon is gone and she can’t live at the military facility, she has nowhere to stay.... (full context)
Chapter 7: A Brother to Dragons
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...the lights. As they start to go back upstairs, Dan asks Laurie if she misses Jon. She says that she ought to, but she was already “lonely” when she lived with... (full context)
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...propositioned her—and the Soviet incursion into Pakistan. Laurie wishes she could just run away like Jon did. Dan takes his glasses off to clean them and Laurie tells him he looks... (full context)
Chapter 8: Old Ghosts
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...preparations and insists that they have to do it. Laurie obviously didn’t get cancer from Jon, the Comedian was murdered, and it seems Rorschach was framed; it all feels like a... (full context)
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...Daniel back in costume. Laurie thinks all of this is a mistake and wishes that Jon were with them. They make their way to the roof of the prison, climb in... (full context)
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...house. Laurie seems rattled. She goes into the living room and is startled to find Jon sitting on the couch. Jon says he knew that she wanted to speak with him,... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Darkness of Mere Being
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A globe-shaped perfume bottle falls through the air. Laurie and Jon teleport from Daniel’s living room to a hillside on Mars. Laurie can’t breathe its atmosphere... (full context)
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Jon claims to know how the conversation ends. His non-linear perception of time aggravates Laurie, but... (full context)
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Jon tells Laurie that she was his “only connection” to Earth, so when she left him,... (full context)
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As they look at Mars’s vast and dramatic landscape, Jon asks Laurie if she thinks it would look better with an oil pipeline running through... (full context)
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Laurie asks Jon if human pain and experience mean more to him than rocks in the sand. Jon... (full context)
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...throws her drink in his face, accuses him of raping her mother, and shouts until Jon arrives and teleports her away. Laurie doesn’t know why she’s retelling this story to Jon... (full context)
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Laurie wants Jon to send her back to Earth to die with everyone else. She notes that she... (full context)
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Laurie cries that her life is nothing more than a stupid “joke.” Jon tells that he does not think her life is meaningless, which confuses Laurie. He says... (full context)
Chapter 11: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty…
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...They spend all their money on weapons, so their people suffer and the environment burns. Jon’s appearance accelerates this process by bringing advances in technology. The only way to stop it... (full context)
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Veidt continues revealing his plan. He knows he needs to get rid of Jon, so his company, Dimensional Developments, hires several of Jon’s past associates and secretly gives them... (full context)
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With Jon and the Comedian neutralized, Veidt needed Rorschach taken care of as well to stop him... (full context)
Chapter 12: A Stronger Loving World
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...bodies. Massive tentacles rope through streets and buildings, connected to a huge, dead, squid-like monster. Jon and Laurie teleport into the middle of the carnage and see all of the corpses.... (full context)
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...flooded with visions of an alien world. On one of his screens, Veidt sees that Jon and Laurie have arrived. (full context)
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Jon realizes that Veidt has been using tachyons to disrupt Jon’s ability to see the future.... (full context)
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Veidt stands and begins to announce his victory, but Jon’s massive arm smashes through the wall. Jon announces that he can reconstruct himself at will,... (full context)
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...Veidt asks everyone else to accept the “compromise” for the good of humanity. This horrifies Jon, Laurie, and Daniel, but they accept that Veidt is right. However, Rorschach refuses to compromise,... (full context)
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...she learned on Mars and all the carnage in New York. Dan worries about whether Jon cares that he and Laurie are together. Laurie tells him it doesn’t matter. They have... (full context)
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Jon confronts Rorschach as he walks through the snow, back to the airship to return to... (full context)
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Jon walks back into the fortress, past Laurie and Dan sleeping naked together by the pool,... (full context)