Thursday, February 4, 2010

Allie: The Adventures of Roland and a Woman

Roland first sees Allie, a once-pretty woman now beaten down by exhaustion and marked by a scar in the middle of her forehead, behind the bar at Sheb's, Tull's honkytonk. He asks if she has meat, and she responds, "Sure," elaborating that it's threaded stock (clearly a lie--one that Roland recognizes, of course) and warning him that it's expensive.

Like the bar's patrons, Allie appears to be resentful of the gold Roland possesses, allowing him to buy three burgers. Allie is cold and distant to the point of rudeness, giving him lumps of salt only at his request (lumps he will unquestionably have to break up with his fingers) and lying to him about whether or not he has bread.

When Roland encounters Nort, the weed-eater, Allie makes "a small moaning sound". After Roland turns over a piece of gold to Nort and realizes that the weed-eater has had some sort of interaction with the Man in Black, the honkytonk empties out; Allie (rightfully) blames Roland for losing a night's worth of business.

When she realizes that she has information about the Man in Black, though, Allie becomes very valuable to Roland. In the universal language that exists between men and women, Allie's anger gives way to "speculation" and "a high wet gleam he had seen before". When Roland does not exactly jump at her implied offer, the gleam is "replaced by hopelessness, by a dumb need that had no mouth."

Allie is a provincial woman who has clearly struggled through life, clawing for everything she has. She is past subtleties and says point blank to Roland, "I guess maybe you know my price. I got an itch I used to be able to take care of, but now I can't." Roland looks at her for a bit, contemplating her offer. What flashes through his mind (that the scar won't show in the dark, that her body is pretty decent, that she'd once been fairly attractive) is completely irrelevant, though ... their subsequent sexual union has been ordered by ka.

The chapter ends with the words, "There was no light to hide their act". What does this mean? Why does King choose to use 'no light' instead of just saying 'darkness'?

And how does Roland's interaction with Allie effectively illustrate his relationships with all women (with the exception of Susan Delgado and possibly Jenna of "The Little Sisters of Eluria")?

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