Explain a book to me.

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by Veho, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Veho

    Veho The man who cried "Ni".

    Former Staff
    Apr 4, 2006
    Warning to all who haven't read the book yet, this will be full of spoilers. Tantamount to the identity of Keiser Söze. If you haven't read the book, it's not too late to turn around. Walk away. Disperse quietly. Nothing to see here.

    Okay, Use of Weapons. Zakalwe. Etheiomel. Tell me.

    So if it's Etheiomel as himself, what is his motivation? Remorse? Conscience caught up with him? Highly unlikely, because if he had any conscience he wouldn't have done these things (the chair) in the first place. He's a maniac. A psycho. A complete basketcase. Where did a conscience pop up all of a sudden?
    If it's Zakalwe, I mean, if it's Etheiomel, barking mad, split personality, and convinced that he's Zakalwe, um, how? How and when did Etheiomel become Zakalwe, exactly? And where did the memories come from?

    Now, don't get me wrong, the twist is not really a surprise, it's pretty foreseeable. The problem is, there's no explanation. There's have a nagging feeling throughout the entire book (from the moment Etheiomel steps onto the scene) how it's going to end (or begin), but to step on that nagging little voice and silence it, the author does everything to drive the point of the protagonist (antagonist?) being the real Zakalwe home. Or does he? Maybe the whole book is so ambiguous it really can lead both ways, like the spinning lady silhouette thing; the text is purposely distorted and ambiguous and lacking in definitive details, and lets our own brain fill in the gaps the way we want to, and since we are inclined to believe it's Zakalwe, we tend to err on the side of, well Zakalwe.

    Or is it? I could have sworn some things were very definitive with no room for interpretation.

    If it's Etheiomel, where did the scar come from? I thought Zakalwe got hit by the bone fragment. But I'm not sure. Does it ever actually say who gets hit?

    And we have the backwards-moving thread, and apparently, at one moment or other, it skips from Etheiomel (calling himself Zakalwe) to Zakalwe, and we have a man referring to himself as Zakalwe all the way, and at one point it's not Etheiomel, it's the real Zakalwe. Or at several points. The pictures are not taken in chronological order. The trick is distinguishing between the threads.

    The major pain in the... cognitive process is the fact there are three storylines instead of two. One is the "main" story, the extraction of the scientist. The second one is the backward-moving story, in a form of short vignettes, pictures from the past of the protagonist of the first storyline, and, and this is the one that confuses readers, there's a third one, it's the story of the actual Zakalwe, fragments of his life leading to the chair ( [​IMG] ). And, thus, not actually part of any of the other two. But the reader tends to bundle it up with the Etheiomel/Zakalwe story, and the confusion (and the final "surprise") stems from there.

    The trouble is, the Zakalwe from storylines one and two has memories of the real Zakalwe, flashbacks to the events from Zakalwe's life, nightmares of the chair, and has (or had (or has the false memory of having had)) the bone fragment in his chest... when the real Zakalwe was the one who was hit... or was he? Who got hit by the bone fragment?

    The flashbacks to Zakalwe's youth can be explained by the fact they grew up together, and share many memories. The nightmares of the chair can be brought on by a guilty conscience... I am wrought with skepticism. Staberinde is a symbol to both men, and I see why both could use the name later on. Zakalwe walking in on Etheiomel and his sister is a shared memory, and the flashbacks to the event could happen to both; in my mind, the flashback is always from Zakalwe's perspective, when I could swear that the flashbacks occur in both Zakalwe's and Etheiomel's storyline. Still, I could be mistaken. And, finally, the bone fragment. It all hinges on the bone fragment.

    What did I miss? Is the book really very very ambiguous and misleading, or is it actually very definitive, all the information given fitting into it's storyline, all the memories attributed to the correct person, and only in a second reading one's brain is wired to separate the pictures into four categories instead of two?

    And seriously, who got the bone fragment?