The following is in response to Stephen King’s The Gunslinger.
This book is part one of the Dark Tower series, the longest series that Stephen King was penned amounting to a total of seven (eight if you count The Wind Through the Keyhole, which I believe is set in the same universe as the other seven). This book is also the twenty-sixth book that I read this year as part of my goodreads.com challenge. The Gunslinger, our protagonist Roland, is on a journey to find The Man in Black. To be honest it is a relatively simple story, spattered with a few complex sections and ideas.
To sum up the overall demise of the dystopian world that King has created here I turn to a scene early on in the book; Roland has stopped is journey for a moment in a border town of Tull. “Alice watched them and felt a pang of fleeting despair for the sad times of this world. The loss. Things had stretched apart. There was no glue at the center anymore. Somewhere something was tottering, and when it fell, all would end. She had never seen the ocean, never would. (55)”
One of those complex ideas that I mentioned is from a flashback. Roland has an interesting childhood that made him the man he is today. When talking to his father about the cook, who turns out to be a traitor, he father says, “Perhaps, not for a while. But in the end, someone always has to have his of her neck popped, as you so quaintly put it. The people demand it. Sooner or later, if there isn’t a turncoat, the people make one. (159)” This line on turncoats ruminated with me for some time. I asked myself, has this happened in our society? Who has been a traitor in the US that was created only by the people? Does this really happen?
The Man in Black took a boy, Jake, out of a time that resembles our own and plopped him down in the path of Roland, in order to stymie is pursuit. Ultimately the boy had to die—the most important thing to Roland is that he reach The Man in Black—but that does not mean that Roland does not feel for the boy and that his death does not phase him. “It came to him that there would be further degradations of the spirit ahead that might make this one seem infinitesimal, and yet he would still flee it, down corridors and through cities, from bed to bed; he would flee the boy’s face and try to bury it in cunts and killing, only to enter one final room and find it looking at him over a candle flame. He had become the boy; the boy had become him. He was become a werewolf of his own making. In deep dreams he would become the boy and speak the boy’s strange city tongue. (291)”