Towerpedia:Roland Deschain

Roland Deschain is the main character in author Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Roland is the last of the gunslingers, 30th descendant from the line of Arthur Eld.

Background

Roland was born in Gilead to Steven and Gabrielle Deschain. Because of his bloodline he is destined to become one of the next generations of gunslingers, and is trained in that capacity.

Early Life

Roland is nicknamed Gabby by his teacher Vannay, due to his quiet nature. While Roland turns out to be one of the best pupils when it comes to shooting, he is generally known to have a lack of imagination. His thoughtful, plodding way will greatly contribute to his determination in gaining the Dark Tower in his later life.

Roland becomes a gunslinger at the age of fourteen, coerced into his test of manhood by Marten, his fatherís wizard. Roland defeats his teacher, Cort, with an unusual weapon: his hawk, David. David is just the first in a long line of sacrifices Roland makes in his quest for The Dark Tower. He inherits his fatherís apprentice guns as a sign of his rite of passage.

Roland is the youngest ever to become a gunslinger. His father had previously been the youngest, having passed his test at the age of sixteen.

Mejis

Marten, thwarted in his plan to have Roland sent west, determines the boy will die. Steven Deschain sends Roland and his mates Alain and Cuthbert to the town of Hambry in the barony of Mejis on a fact-finding mission disguised as a punishment for their errant ways.

Once in Mejis, Roland meets and falls in love with [[Susan Delgado]]. This is the one woman who has ever made Roland consider a fate other than his precious Tower, but in the end he sacrifices his relationship with her to pursue his destiny.

Not long after Roland returns to Gilead, he inherits his fatherís guns, a symbol that he is now a man in his fatherís eyes.

Following the Man in Black

Perhaps the most famous line in Stephen Kingís works is this: The [[Man in Black]] fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.Ē (DT1).

Thus begins Rolandís true quest for the Dark Tower. Roland is so obsessed with capturing Walter, the Man in Black, that he sacrifices the boy Jake in order to do so. This is something that will haunt Roland for the rest of his journey.

Rolandís New Ka-tet

According to Walter, Roland is to draw three to accompany him on his quest: The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, and The Pusher.

Eddie is The Prisoner. Addicted to heroin, he is fated to be the first Roland must draw to him.

Next is The Lady of Shadows. Here he encounters Odetta Holmes / Detta Walker, a woman who has lost her legs below the knee, and, in a more sinister twist, has developed a dual personality. Roland brings Odetta / Detta into his world and transforms her into Susannah Dean.

The third door The Pusher, is where Roland meets Jack Mort, the man who would kill Jake. Roland stops him from doing so, and with this one action initiates a paradox in which he in one sense knows the boy is real, and in another believes the boy never existed. This causes Roland to believe he is going mad, and he surrenders his guns to Eddie, afraid of what he is capable of doing.

The ka-tet becomes whole again when they pull Jake through the door Eddie draws in the speaking ring outside Lud and they pull Jake from the house on Dutch Hill. Once reunited, Rolandís dual memories cease to exist.

Roland has drawn his three, and these three help him in his quest for the Dark Tower. Each, in turn, either dies or moves on, leaving Roland to face his Tower alone. Even Patrick Danville, the last person Roland and Susannah encounter, serves his purpose and goes on his way, leaving Roland to his singular goal.

The Dark Tower

Roland ultimately reaches his tower, but what he finds at the top is not what he expected. In a cruel twist of fate, Roland is forced to face his demons all over again, but this time he has an advantage: the Horn of Eld is at his side.

This time, Roland may conquer his Tower after all.

Original artwork by Michael Whelan

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References

Furth, Robin. Stephen Kingís The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance. Scribner, 2006. ISBN 0743297342

King, Stephen. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, Book I, Revised). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032549

King, Stephen. The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, Book II). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032557

King, Stephen. The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, Book III). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032565

King, Stephen. Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, Book IV). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032573

King, Stephen. Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, Book V). Donald M. Grant/Scribner, 2003. ISBN 1880418568

King, Stephen. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, Book VI). Donald M. Grant/Scribner, 2004. ISBN 1880418592

King, Stephen. The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, Book VII). Donald M. Grant/Scribner, 2004. ISBN 1880418622

Vincent, Bev. The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen Kingís Magnum Opus. New American Library, 2004. ISBN 0451213041

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