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Roland's character **SPOILERS**

Discussion in 'General Discussion & Questions' started by Neil W, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. Neil W

    Neil W Well-Known Member

    Discussion elsewhere on Roland's character led me to thinking about some of the conflicting elements. His upbringing and training are obviously major factors, but I'm thinking specifically about love, and the fact that Roland is, for the most part, too hard and single-minded for love to have any part in his life.

    Excepts that isn't true, because we know that Roland loves, Jake, Edie and Susannah even though he knows that his quest probably spells death for them and that he is prepared to sacrifice them almost without thought.

    I find myself wondering whether the events of his youth lead to him conditioning himself to not permitting himself to love - his parents, Susan, and his three companions to Mejis all die deaths which he could at least partly blame himself for, so does he feel guilty? Is that part of why he is so cold? If so, it's a lovely bit of character motivation, laid in over many pages with craft, and never spelled out.
  2. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    Interesting! I think his upbringing is everything. Even without the events in W&G, he would have been able to love but still sacrifice, because he was raised and trained in a climate where DUTY is paramount to everything else. Not love, otherwise Steven Deschain would have found it unbearable to allow his wife to be overtaken, even with the goal of sussing out the great enemy's plans. As written, he loves her dearly, as he loves Roland, but his DUTY is to be the leader; thus, he will sacrifice what he loves to that god. It's not much different from what we know was (and perhaps still is) taught to hereditary leaders/aristocracy of real life worlds.

    To my mind, Roland is a lot like Obi Wan (Yes, I'm mixing my stories here-lol--but I think it's valid, as Jedi and Gunslingers have a lot in common): the apex of what social and civil training was supposed to produce. He is truly a man that does not exist outside of his world and his DUTY. Yes, he will sacrifice anyone to that, and what happened in his youth didn't have much to do with that. Where it gets interesting is where that world stops existing--when Gilead and the Republic fall. For both characters (Roland and Obi Wan), they have to face an overwhelming challenge to what they have been taught. Roland is still playing by the rules of Gilead when he lets Jake go the first time, or when he kills the saloon girl (Ally? Can't remember--it's been a while since I read THE GUNSLINGER). Obi Wan has his 'Jake' moment when he fights Anakin, and then leaves him on Mustafar (He didn't kill him because Jedi only kill when they or someone else are threatened. Anakin was no longer a threat, so Obi Wan had no justification to kill him--this is just in case you haven't spent time dwelling on Jedi. I have because I'm a geek. HAHA). Both are doing what they have been trained to do.

    It's interesting to see how they each change when they come to the gradual realization that the paradigm they were trained to protect no longer exists. Of course, they go back to their training a lot (Psychology and experience tell us that what we learn in our formative years is incredibly hard to overcome), but each does change: Roland doesn't give up Jake again, and he doesn't lightly risk anyone he cares about again. Obi Wan stays to Tatooine to watch over Anakin's son (though it would be risky), and when the time comes, he protects him.

    Roland's character is shaped by his training and his life experience, but the magic is in watching how he changes over time.

    Sorry for the long post--I think about made-up stuff far too much (lol)
  3. Hall Monitor

    Hall Monitor All bars serve the Beam.

    Hey Skimom,

    Nice to see another SK/Star Wars fan . . . I'm in the middle of reading "Kenobi" right now, which is about Obi-Wan's life immediately after dropping off Luke to the Lars family ... interesting to see how he deals with the conflict of being a Jedi but needing to hide his powers. I think your comparisons between Roland and Obi-Wan are right on point. I can hear Roland yelling "You were the chosen one!" at Stephen King after the accident : )
    Neesy and skimom2 like this.
  4. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    NICE! I've not heard of that one--well written?

    They really are comparable, in training. I know SK was going for a Knights of the Round Table vibe, but every description of the Gunslingers and what they were trained to do (and not to do) took me right back to Jedis.
    Neesy likes this.
  5. Hall Monitor

    Hall Monitor All bars serve the Beam.

    So far I like it. It was released pretty late in 2013, so it is still pretty new. I must admit, I'm a sucker for getting inside the heads of the characters, so I'm probably not the most objective of critics : )

    I know what you mean. I've always kind of felt that the inclusion of lightsabers in Wolves of the Calla was a small callout to the similarities between Roland and the Jedi. Same with the Harry Potter references.
    Neesy likes this.
  6. Mr. Gray Robert

    Mr. Gray Robert Well-Known Member

    I agree but I believe Susan's death is the final nail in the coffin. In a way he turns his back on his DUTY when he risks their mission by falling in love with and pursuing Susan. Cuthbert see's this and confronts him. Susan was his first love and her death destroyed(if not completely) his ability to love and bring people close.
  7. Pucker

    Pucker We all have it coming, kid

    You could make the case that Roland is something of an automaton. He's trained to fulfill a specific function and anything that detracts from that is seen as superfluous. Of course, Roland isn't an automaton, and so he is conflicted (wouldn't be much of a story otherwise), but the little glimpses of Roland's humanity that we -- and his friends -- see, like dancing the commala, for instance, hint at a guy who knows things might have been different, and maybe -- in his more expansive (for him) moods wishes that he hadn't been born in such interesting times.

    I dunno.

    Just a thought.
    Mr. Gray Robert likes this.
  8. erdem

    erdem Member

    I think his character changed throughout the series. Remember the Tull massacre in the book one. He killed everyone in the village without thinking. But to the end he became more sensitive. Especially after he let Jake die.

    But interestingly in the Wind t Keyhole we saw that Roland nursed Cort after the lethal injuries from their fight. But his father was angry with that. So we can assume Roland is romantic but he is raised to hide his feelings.

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