Tag Archives: female characters

Stephen King’s tiny details

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

Book One: The Gunslinger

(con’t from the last post)

In recent posts I’ve pointed out that Roland is a sensitive, sentimental person (“romantic”) and a rather sexual creature.

The GunslingerHe has compassion as well – both times in The Gunslinger that Roland has sex it’s mostly out of pity. First he has pity on Alice (who becomes “Allie” as he spends more time with her), a woman who keeps bar and has a significant scar on her forehead. He has a sexual relationship with her, then he uses sex as a bargaining chip with the Oracle later on.

But either way, Roland is a complex character and what woman wouldn’t want him.

His dreams give him glimpses of himself (as dreams do). When he and Jake arrive at the willow grove where they meet the Oracle, he has a vivid dream where he is witnessing the murder of his beloved Susan from ages ago. In the dream as she burns, Susan urges Roland to put his attention on “the boy”. When he then looks at him, Jake has a spike through his forehead.

Later, Roland and Jake have an encounter with the man in black, and as the man in black whisks away, after stating that on the other side of the mountains “just the two of us” will hold much council, Jake looks up at Roland, pleading with him not to go down this path, the one that will lead to his (Jake’s) death.

“For a moment the gunslinger saw the face of Allie, the girl from Tull, superimposed over Jake’s, the scar standing out on her forehead like a mute accusation, and felt brute loathing for them both. (It wouldn’t occur to him until much later that both the scar on Alice’s forehead and the nail he saw spiked through Jake’s forehead in his dreams were in the same place).”

What an ingenious detail but only the most astute readers would have put the two forehead themes together so King had to point it out with parentheses.

I’ll talk more about this in the next post.

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Roland & the ladies (Dark Tower)

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

Book One: The Gunslinger

(con’t from the last post)

One change King made to the original version of this book is when Roland and the boy Jake are chasing the man in black. They arrive at a pleasant grove and make camp (where they meet the Oracle). Jake says he will get some wood and Roland says “No, you won’t. Sit yourself, Jake.”

He ponders his own statement, wondering who he got that phrase from. In the original version he says “Some woman”. But in the revised version he says:

“Whose phrase had that been? Some woman. Susan? He couldn’t remember.”

(Susan was his first and only true love who died.)

The GunslingerI like this tiny bit of additional information a lot. But in both versions, in only a few words we know that the people in his life, women as well as men, have changed Roland over the years. The people he meets he takes something from, as we all do from the people we meet and get to know. Sometimes what we take are phrases, or maybe a way of talking, or even personality traits (at least we can try). Roland’s life has involved mostly men and fighting and masculine stuff, but the women have shaped him too.

Speaking of women in this book, I find it a bit strange that two of the three female characters are nymphomaniacs (and the third is a hugely fat female cult leader whose flabby arms make Roland’s loins quiver).

Allie in Tull wanted him desperately. Not that it needed to be him necessarily to satisfy her needs – she was also desperately attracted to the man in black.

The Oracle, a female demonic force, also begs Roland to give over his body to her for sexual purposes. Both of these female characters were lonely and seemed to need to fill that loneliness with sex. Not an uncommon occurrence I suppose, but in this case it’s a recurring theme. Undoubtedly Roland has a sensuous carelessness about him, but if we were to judge the females of Roland’s world on the female characters in this book they are mostly nymphomaniacs!

Come to think of it, Roland is a pretty sexual creature. Maybe he just brings it out in the ladies.

More on The Gunslinger in the next post.