I just finished the Gunslinger. Here are a few of the lines that really stood out from the last few chapters: “he sat stiffly in the darkness, stunned with horror and terrified (for the first time in his existence) of the self-loathing that might come afterward.”
“In a sudden, simple thought (almost a vision) it came to him that all he had to do was give it over, turn around, take the boy with him, and make him the center of the new force. The Tower did not have to be obtained in this humiliating, nose-rubbing way, did it?…He knew with a sudden coldness that turning backward would mean death for both of them–death or worse.”
“Go then. There are other worlds than these.”
What stood out for you? Why?
Instead of having a few questions per chapter I thought I would change things for the later half of the book and talk about overall impressions, favorite lines from the book, how King’s writing feels to the reader, and what you think about Roland, the man in black, Jake, and where the story is headed…
As I read this book again for the first time in over a decade I was, firstly amazed at how it almost felt like reading it for the first time all over again. Secondly, I was amazed that even as I read I kept noticing the subtle and not so subtle changes that King made in this version compared to the first version, which I finally found in a box –I’d hidden it because it was almost damaged beyond repair when where I was living was flooded almost 10 years ago. I know this book seems a little dark, perhaps a bit boring, compared to the other books in the series, and many feel that the reading order should start with The Drawing of the Three, but I disagree. This is, afterall, a story about more than just the Dark Tower, it’s a story about the last Gunslinger’s quest for the Dark Tower. Roland is the last of his kind. Perhaps he succeeds and fails because of his lack of imagination, his intuition, his seemingly ambivalent feelings towards anything or anyone who might stand in his way of the Tower, but Roland’s growth as a character cannot be fully understood unless you read this book along with the others.
Jake: I don’t want to spoil future books but Jake’s last words are extremely important and symbolic. Roland has known deep down that there are other worlds. His glimpse of the universe and other worlds from the Man in Black is almost too much for Roland, as we’ve learned Roland doesn’t have much in the way of imagination. Roland knows in his heart what to do, but his head keeps winning the arguments, thus he loses Jake. His thoughts about taking Jake and finding another way to the Tower make you realize just how much he does love Jake for him to even think that thought, though you know he won’t turn back from his quest for the Tower…it’s a bit of foreshadowing though–you can feel it as you read the words.
SPOILER ALERT: Everything changes for Roland once he draws the three and his Ka-tet is formed. If you don’t read the Gunslinger first then you can’t fully understand just how alone Roland is and has been before he Draws the Three. He’s the last of his kind, one of, if not the only, survivor of his world–imagine how alone he is. He meets Jake and everything changes and yet it doesn’t show immediately. Later on, you’ll see just how much meeting Jake and loving and losing Jake changed him.