This book was published two weeks after King’s fiftieth birthday, and I have to wonder if maybe he was so interested in writing about age in this book because he was having an existential crisis about his own…
On this reading, however, as Roland has just begun telling his story and Susan has proved honest, I find myself asking a question that I honestly can’t believe I’ve never considered: is Roland a reliable narrator? What if the whole story of Susan and Mejis is made up?
But the most notable similarity I’ve observed between what Blaine does to Lud and what Trump is doing on his way out of office, is everyone’s obsession with being polite.
This isn’t a #ThanosIsRight argument; I’m not saying that Blaine’s actions aren’t villainous, because they obviously are. But can we truly hold him responsible for them?
So what are we to make of the lesson Ka taught Eddie this week? Are we to understand that he should have followed Roland’s warning? That Eddie never should have gotten his hopes up at all?
Jake is far from the only evidence that King is dubious of authority. The entire city of Lud has completely cast aside any semblance of law and order; Mercy disobeys her orders to stay away from the palaver in River Crossing, to the benefit of the Ka-Tet; even Blaine is a rebel, turning on his creators, driven mad by the prison of his own programming…
My goal here was to come up with a play-testable prototype that I could then bring to someone who actually knew what they were doing, and ask for their help perfecting it. Here’s what I ended up with.
Jake is a sweet and sensitive soul, completely uncorrupted, but if he fails to cross back over to Mid-World and join his new family he will be stuck in a world of cold neglect, and he will waste away just like the condemned Mansion of Dutch Hill, a once-beautiful thing left to ruin.
In these chapters, two of Roland’s protégés are put in a position where they only have one shot at success with no room for error. “This time I’ll have to get all of it”, Eddie thinks to himself back on p. 115, “I think that this time ninety percent won’t do.”
Reading this book now, I still find myself relating to Jake, but for very different reasons. He is going through the same thing as Roland, but where the schism in Roland’s mind has only split his memories in two, Jake’s divided Ka is playing out in his present. He walks around holding two concurrent timelines in his mind: the reality that was supposed to happen and the reality that he’s actually living in. Can you think of a more perfect metaphor for the predicament in which we all find ourselves this year?