Several weeks ago, I wrote about the differences in the ka-tet’s treatment of Calvin Tower compared to Pere Callahan. In that post I proposed that it was unfair and maybe a bit hypocritical of them—especially Eddie—to fault the stubborn book dealer for exhibiting the same flaws they once suffered from themselves.
This week, I’d like to compare how they deal with Calvin Tower to their behavior toward another character: Mia. This week’s reading was split into two “stanzas” (I have to credit ka for how the readings for this book have been so neatly divided). In the first, Roland and Eddie finally corner Tower and make him come to terms with the truth of who they are and what he has to do. In the second stanza, Susannah and Mia go on a mental field trip to Fedic, where Susannah tries to “burn up the day” with palaver.
I had never thought about Calvin Tower and Mia, Daughter of None, in connection with one another before; they’re separated by split storylines that never directly intersect. But reading these two stanzas back-to-back forced me to think about why King juxtaposes the bibliophilic hoarder with the sex demon-turned-mortal.
“You, Eddie. You want to kill him, don’t you?”– Song of Susannah, p. 172
After a moment, Eddie admitted it was so. This uncovered part of his nature, as simple as it was savage, sometimes made him uneasy, but he could not deny it was there.
Eddie is furious with Tower. He thinks Tower is selfish, reckless, and ungrateful—and he’s right. Tower continues to jeopardize everything Eddie and the ka-tet risk their lives for. He knows that they need Tower, but he worries that his anger will get the better of him and he’ll kill the old man on the spot. Only Roland won’t allow it. Roland, who is not known to suffer fools, demonstrates extreme patience with this one. He let’s Eddie rip into Tower verbally, but at the end of the day they treat him civilly and pay him fairly for what he sells them.
Mia on the other hand, is not given such consideration. I suppose many will think she doesn’t deserve it, but, maybe because I’m now a father, and have newfound sympathy and respect for pregnant women, upon this reading I was surprised to find myself feeling sorry for her in a way I never had before. Susannah has spent almost her entire time in New York trying to convince Mia that Sayre won’t keep his promise to let her keep the chap, but at no time does Susannah offer the same promise in earnest. From the moment the ka-tet discovers the existence of Mia, she is treated as a problem to be dealt with—and she very much is, just like Tower—but they never think to solve the problem of Mia with the same level of patience and respect.
Putting myself in Mia’s shoes (or, to be precise, Trudy Damascus’s shoes), I can’t think of a reason to trust Susannah. Yes, she makes some good points about the Crimson King and casts some serious doubt on the deal Mia struck with Sayre, but how does that help? It only serves to stress Mia out. Susannah isn’t offering any alternatives to Sayre’s false promises . She doesn’t offer to help Mia have the baby, she doesn’t try to recruit her as a servant of the White by telling her she can keep her baby forever. Perhaps if they had been a little more welcoming and warm to Mia she wouldn’t have made an agreement with Sayre in the first place.
But Mordred! You’re probably saying. The prophecy! He’ll kill Roland! But you know that’s bullshit, because he doesn’t kill Roland, does he? Besides, maybe Roland is superstitious enough to fall for that prophecy crap, but Susannah knows her greek mythology. She is smart enough to see that the best way to ensure Mordred wants to murder his father is by treating him like he will. If they merely treated Mia with the same courtesy and fairness that they do when dickering with Tower, maybe Mordred would have been born on the side of the White rather than the Red.
“What prophecy?” Susannah asked.– Song of Susannah, p. 240
“‘He who ends the line of Eld shall conceive a child of incest with his sister or his daughter, and the child will be marked, by his red heel shall you know him. It is he who shall stop the breath of the last warrior.’”
And why aren’t they more welcoming of Mia when they first learn of her existence? Because she’s a demon? Because she’s dangerous? Because she makes a deal with Sayre? I’m not sure I buy any of these arguments; she might be dangerous, but to four gunslingers (one of whom she’s renting her body from) she is harmless. Sure, she made a deal with Sayre, but so did Tower. And no, Mia isn’t human, but neither is the Child of Roderick that Roland will meet further along the beam, and the gunslinger has no problem treating that hideous slow mutant with dignity and humanity. So why can’t the ka-tet seem to show Mia the same courtesy?
I think the answer is simple and a little disillusioning: They show Calvin Tower patience and respect because he has something that the ka-tet needs, something that they can’t take by force. Mia on the other hand doesn’t have anything they need, she has something they would in fact prefer to destroy, so they meet her with hostility and coldness. Stated so plainly, this seems like selfish behavior unworthy of gunslingers. It’s so easy to hold the ka-tet up on a pedestal for we love them, and we have seen them stand true in the name of the white, but the double standard they hold Mia to—their failure to offer aid and succor to a pregnant “woman” in need of help—is another example of how their actions don’t always live up to their perceived honor. Once again we are forced to ask ourselves how good the good guys actually are.