But this isn't the introduction thread, it's the official end thread. Personally, I'm not so sure that King did mean the ending as a picture of Roland being punished, I see it more as a meditation on existential questions. That idea is maybe just a projection of other interpreters. I think it is about the mystery of life and the universe's meaning. Roland sets out to see if something's wrong with the Tower, he’s worried that Gan might have gone insane, yet when it sends him back, a lot of people assume that it must be because Roland has something wrong with him. How exactly do we know that it doesn’t simply prove that Gan is insane? But the rightful punishment concept is a common one, and I do believe that if we accept it, it is, if not a mixed message, at least self-contradictory. What is he being punished for? Not being philosophical enough? Or being too philosophical? Roland and King don't appear to like each other much when they meet, and at another point, Roland says that writers tell their stories because they are afraid of real life. Also, the direct criticism of readers who are into the series for the wrong reasons by the narrator right before the coda seems to tie into the same paradox.... The Dark Tower books ... were born out of Tolkien's.
... I think novelists come in two types, and that includes the sort of fledgling novelist I was by 1970. Those who are bound for the more literary or "serious" side of the job examine every possible subject in the light of this question: What would writing this sort of story mean to me? Those whose destiny (or ka, if you like) is to include the writing of popular novels are apt to ask a very different one: What would writing this sort of story mean to others? The "serious" novelist is looking for answers and keys to the self, the "popular" novelist is looking for an audience. Both kinds of writer are equally selfish. I've known a good many, and will set my watch and warrant upon it.
Anyway, I believe that even at the age of nineteen, I recognized the story of Frodo and his efforts to rid himself of the One Great Ring as one belonging to the second group. ...
You think I’m the one imagining things? Well, what about this passage from 1981’s Danse Macabre? –
Sound familiar? Now doesn’t it seem the ending King wrote for TDT could be just a fictionalized account of his own inability to write another ending for it?… Thomas Williams tells us that writing a long work of fiction is like gathering characters together on a great black plain. They stand around the small fire of the writer’s invention, warming their hands at the blaze, hoping the fire will grow into a blaze which will provide light as well as heat. But often it goes out, all light is extinguished, and the characters are smothered in black. It’s a lovely metaphor for the fiction-making process, but it’s not mine … maybe it’s too gentle to be mine. I’ve always seen the novel as a large black castle to be attacked, a bastion to be taken by force or by trick. The thing about this castle is, it appears to be open. It doesn’t look buttoned up for siege at all. The drawbridge is down. The gates are open. There are no bowmen on the turrets. Trouble is, there’s really only one safe way in; every other attempt at entry results in sudden annihilation form some hidden source.
Again, what I think is that it is an expressionistic work, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it has that fairy tale atmosphere that fools people if they don’t think too much about it. Maybe I’m wrong; if you believe there is a consistent moral of the story, please let me know what it is, and give examples if you don’t mind. Roland is made so complex by novel after novel, and there’s something vaguely judgmental around his supposed redemption, I just think after all these years of discussion that folks who are antisocial put the book down believing that it teaches we should work on our relationships, folks who are shallow put it down thinking that it teaches we should think more about self-improvement, and so on. I think a crucial point is the scene in DT4 where the ka-tet tells him about the movie Wizard of Oz. At the ending, Roland realizes that those characters already had the qualities which they wanted to get from the wizard within themselves. No one has to tell him the ending of that story: he has enough insight to figure it out on his own. But he still goes on to the Dark Tower. So are we really wrong as readers to expect him to find more there than what he does?
I just get tired of members taking for granted that there must be some serious message in it about how to be a better person when King is constantly saying that he doesn't care about that in the same way that many writers do.