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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Gunslinger Discussion--Weeks Two and Three

I'm updating two weeks in one because I've been so busy and my life is total chaos.  I haven't had much time for reading unfortunately.  I hope you all will accept my apologies.  That being said, I'm really enjoying The Gunslinger the second time around.  Here are more questions that cover the last two chapters, The Way Station and The Oracle and the Mountains.

  1. At one point in Roland's recollections of his boyhood, his father saddles him with what seems on the surface a very troubling, even damning judgment. "It is not your place to be moral," his father says. "Morals may always be beyond you." Then he cryptically suggests that his son's amorality is what will make him " formidable." What does he mean? How does this characterization inform the novel's ensuing action—and the larger journey Roland takes over the course of the entire Dark Tower saga?
  2. What sense, in the flashbacks that occur throughout the novel, does Stephen King provide of what Roland's world was like before it "moved on"?
  3. What kind of a man is Cort? Discuss Roland's ambivalent feelings about his boyhood teacher.
  4. What does Roland learn from the demon in the cellar of the way station? "While you travel with the boy, the man in black travels with your soul in his pocket." What does this mean? And how does the pronouncement bear out, in light of the novel's climax at the edge of the desert?
My thoughts:

1.  I think what his father means is that sometimes morals have to take a back seat to what needs to be done.  Now, I'm not saying I agree with that, but I think in regards to the situation in this series, that is what he means.  That Roland will be formidable because he will not let morals stand in the way of his duties.
2.  It seems that Roland came from privilege and the lifestyle he came from before almost reminds me of the royalty in Medieval times, but he also received the tough training of a knight or soldier.  
3.  I believe that Roland felt that Cort was a cruel taskmaster, but yet his tough treatment was necessary for them to learn what they needed to learn.  Kind of like that tough drill sergeant.
4.  In regards to the first part of this question,  I think the demon's prophecy means that Roland is becoming emotionally attached to the boy which will interfere with what he must do.  So, the man in black has the upper hand, as long as Roland stays attached in that way to the boy.  Of course, in regards to the second part of this question, we're not at the climax yet...or, at least, I'm not so that remains to be seen.

So, how are you all doing on this book?  I hope you will share your thoughts and, again, forgive me for being SO behind.


  1. I didnt realise we were having check ins ! Im actually done :)

    I think Roland has some sense of morals but they are not deep. He has a flexibility that can be frightening. If was chilling how deeply he switched his feelings in regards to Jake.

    Im reading the Dark Tower concordence by Robin Furth and she mentions thst Rolands initial problems were his belief that he had to do everything on his own it rings so true with his choices and leads to cold decisions

    1. Interesting, Kai. I should check into that.

      The schedule for book two will be up this weekend.

  2. I need to refrain from answering these questions with too much detail. I will say that yes, I know exactly what Roland's father meant, and Roland proves him correct over and over and over again...

    I love Roland and I understand him, but I'm completely frustrated with him at the same time.

    Before Roland's world "moved on," it was different from place to place. Where Roland lived, I picture it as being a lot like Camelot--he and Jake have already spoken about how it was like the world of King Arthur and his knights.

    Cort is a jerk, but he's a jerk that cares about the boys. He wants to make sure they're prepared to be gunslingers--that's his job. Gunslingers must be tough. They must put aside emotion when they need to. They must be able to be completely aware of their surroundings at all times.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking, Heather. I was thinking Camelot too. And I totally get that about Cort, but he's a rough cuss, isn't he?

  3. http://christinarosendahl.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-gunslinger-dark-tower-1/
    Here's my thoughts on The Gunslinger.

  4. I'm late checking in! hee.

    I never found Roland to be particularly amoral, even in The Gunslinger... but his morals are different, to be sure. He comes across as cold and calculating, not particularly empathetic, but he doesn't kill lightly--he has a conscience. He's contrasted against the man in black, who truly does seem amoral, having brought back Nort for what amounted to a lark, having set the town of Tull against Roland for--what? And now, Jake seems in the path of danger from the man in black. Roland is certainly the good guy, but not an unsullied white knight. I think that's why his character resonates so deeply with so many people.

    I've always been deeply enchanted by Roland's world. It's part Western, part medieval. I would love to read more stories about Gilead (not the comics, though.. they may be sanctioned, but they're not canon).

    I'll leave the other questions, as I've already read the series so much :)

    1. Great insight, Susie! I totally agree. I too love Roland's world. I think the mix of Medieval and Western is genius.

      I will have the reading schedule for book two posted by tomorrow. Don't worry about being behind. I am too!