Saturday, May 16, 2009

Remnants of Childhood

There is a curious duplicity to Roland.

On the one hand, he is a gunslinger, a trained killer, a man in every sense of the word. On the other, he is reminded of (or perhaps even haunted by) memories of his childhood. There is a little boy inside of Roland, a child that the reader is reminded of most often through snippets of rhyme.

For example, "Spark-a-dark, where's my sire? Will I lay me? Will I stay me? Bless this camp with fire" is spoken over a spark that will hopefully lead to an efficient campfire.

Even as he speaks this little blessing, Roland muses on how odd it is that some of childhood's traditions and memories fall by the wayside, yet others remain a steadfast part of the adult a child becomes. He further notes that these carryovers from childhood grow "the heavier to carry" as time goes on.

Roland's childhood (and coming-of-age, so to speak) is obviously a major part of his character and of the series in general. What happens between the days when he could still be considered a boy and the current events in The Gunslinger is a growing chasm. I understand it now, of course, but I never noticed before how many little clues about Roland's childhood are interspersed throughout.

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