I'm behind on the reading...again, but I thought I would post these discussion questions for you to share your thoughts, if you are up to date. Some of the questions may pertain more to the entire book so use your discretion on which ones you answer. I'll be back in a few days with my thoughts.
- The Waste Lands is loaded with widely disparate cultural signifiers, from early-career Paul Newman to speed-metal bands to Frodo Baggins to Germany's Weimar Republic to Sugary Ray Leonard to King Arthur's Court. What is the effect of this kind of "kitchen-sink" referencing? Describe the tone of Stephen King's novel.
- How would you characterize Eddie Dean's emotional health in this third novel? What is the nature and provenance of his mysterious connection with Jake Chambers? How does their wordless affinity play out over the course of this novel?
- What is the nature of morality in Mid-World? Does King encourage a traditional good-and-evil reading of his novel? Explain. What fates and fortunes ultimately meet the novel's "evil" or immoral characters? What of the benevolent characters?
- Upon finding the metal ID tag and learning that the giant bear was called Shardik, Eddie is struck by a faint twinge of recognition. The name Shardik triggers in Eddie a seemingly inexplicable association "with rabbits." What is Stephen King's sly joke here?
- How might the work of Richard Adams, both his classic Watership Down as well as the lesser-known novel Shardik, relate to some of the larger themes—of cultural decay, of societal conflict, of nature versus civilization—that run through The Waste Lands?
- In his bizarre dreamscape early in the novel, what book is Eddie holding in his hand as he walks along Second Avenue? What is King up to here?
- Explain the elements of the great paradox—rooted in the events of The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three—underlying Roland and Jake's "doubled" memories and burgeoning madness.
- Recount what happens at the campsite in the "Bear and Bone" section after Roland tosses the jawbone of the man in black into the flames. What do the three pilgrims see in the fire? How does this episode spark the events by which Roland and Jake finally reconcile the paradox that is driving them mad? How do the images of the key and the rose come to inform the ka-tet's quest?