The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
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Reading Group Guide from The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance
1. Of all the books in the Dark Tower series, The Dark Tower
is probably the most action-packed. What are the major crisis points within the novel? How does King create this dramatic tension? How do you think King goes about planning such a plot? Does the story line just evolve naturally from the characters he imagines?
2. What do Jake and Callahan find in the Dixie Pig? In what ways do the forces of the Outer Dark mock the White? Since the Crimson King is also descended from Arthur Eld, is there some hidden significance in this mockery? If so, what does this say about the nature of the White? What about the nature of the Tower?
3. How does Pere Callahan’s death, at the beginning of The Dark Tower,
refer back to his experiences in ’Salem’s Lot
? What does this say about Callahan’s ka
4. What is an aven kal
? How is it similar to, or different from, todash
5. What kind of “walk-in” do Eddie and Roland meet along Route 7 in Lovell? How did this creature enter our world? What connection does King make between walk-ins, the Prim, and the creative imagination?
6. What is the difference between a magical door, which links worlds, and a mechanical one? Where do the different types come from? Is one aligned with the White and one with the Outer Dark? Can such simple labels be put on them? Why?
7. The Breaker prison in Thunderclap is known as the Devar-Toi to the prisoners and Algul Siento to the can-toi
guards. How do these two names express different perspectives on the duties being performed there?
8. The three Breakers who initially aid Roland, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake all come from other places in King’s fiction—either from earlier parts of the Dark Tower series or from other stories or novels. Where do these characters come from? Why does King choose these characters? What does this say about the Dark Tower itself, and about the interconnectedness of the “Stephen King Universe”?
9. To describe Pimli Prentiss, Master of the Devar-Toi, Stephen King compares him to Jim Jones, the leader of the People’s Temple in Guyana, who convinced his followers to commit mass suicide. What effect does this have upon us? Is King making a wider social statement when he draws this comparison?
10. What is ka-shume
? How does this force manifest in the ka
of our ka-tet
? Can a person escape ka-shume
11. Although it has its own stark beauty, Roland’s world has been devastated by mutations, plagues, and ruinous technology. Now that you’ve finished the series, how do you think Mid-World relates to our world? Does the company North Central Positronics have any symbolic significance? Is King commenting on contemporary culture? If so, what is he saying? Is his vision completely positive, completely negative, or something in between?
12. In the final two books of the Dark Tower series, King enters the tale directly. In fact, at one point King calls himself the deus ex machina, or the “god out of a machine.” What is your reaction to King’s appearance in the Dark Tower series? What place does the fictional Stephen King have in the Dark Tower universe? What about the real Stephen King?
13. According to the people of the Tet Corporation, there is a direct link between the Dark Tower series and King’s other fiction. What is it? Do you view King’s various novels as pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle, with the Dark Tower novels at the center? Why or why not? If you don’t see King’s fiction in this way (or if you haven’t read many of King’s other books), think about any King films you’ve seen, or any episodes of his various TV series. Are there any themes that seem to repeat?
14. What are the can-toi
? What are the taheen
? How are they the same and how are they different? King compares the taheen
to the monstrous figures found in Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights,
painted circa AD 1500. Take a look at this painting. (It’s fairly easy to find. Just type Hieronymus Bosch,
and Garden of Earthly Delights,
into your search engine.) As you will see, when the triptych is closed, its outer shutters depict the creation of the world. When the triptych is open, the left panel depicts Adam and Eve and the earthly paradise, the center panel illustrates the world engaged in sinful pleasures, and the right panel (where our taheen
like creatures appear) represents Hell. How are King’s creations similar to these painted figures? By drawing this comparison, what other, unspoken comments is King making about End-World, the Devar-Toi, and the Crimson King?
15. At the beginning of The Dark Tower,
Jake reflects upon one of Roland’s sayings. According to our gunslinger, “You needn’t die happy when your day comes, but you must die satisfied, for you have lived your life from beginning to end and ka
is always served.” What does this statement mean? Do you agree or disagree with the philosophy it expresses? Take a look at each member of Roland’s ka-tet
: Eddie, Susannah, Jake, Oy, Callahan, and even Roland himself. Do any or all of them remain true to this vision?
16. At the beginning of Wolves of the Calla,
Stephen King includes a section entitled “The Final Argument.” According to this introductory piece, each of the seven novels of the Dark Tower series has a subtitle. Moving, in order, from The Gunslinger
to Song of Susannah,
these subtitles are “Resumption,” “Renewal,” “Redemption,” “Regard,” “Resistance,” and “Reproduction.” In terms of Roland’s quest, what is the meaning of each of these subtitles?
17. Although each of the first six novels of the Dark Tower series has a singleword subtitle, The Dark Tower
(the final book of the series) has a four-word subtitle. It is “Reproduction, Revelation, Redemption, Resumption.” How does this subtitle reflect the action of the novel? How does it interact with the subtitles of the previous novels? If you sit and contemplate the meaning of each of the words in The Dark Tower
’s subtitle, does it affect your interpretation of the novel’s ending? How does it affect your interpretation of Roland’s quest?