Oct 24 2011 11:00am

A Read of the Dark Tower: Constant Reader Tackles The Drawing of the Three, The Lady of Shadows: Chapter 4, Sections 9-18

Three. This is the number of your fate.

Welcome to A Read of the Dark Tower series. Join me each week as I, Constant Reader, tackle the magnum opus of Stephen King’s career for the first time. If you want to discuss in general terms or talk about these first sections, join me by commenting here.

When we last saw Roland in the first half of chapter four of The Drawing of the Three, the chapter called “Detta on the Other Side,” his fever was returning but he was determined to solve the mystery of Detta/Odetta and rip off Eddie’s blinders.

This week, we’ll look at the second half of “Detta on the Other Side,” in which I suspect the wily Detta is not going to make life pleasant for the new men in her life.

The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 9

This section starts out with a short sentence — “The day was a nightmare” — which tells me we’re headed for more fun with Detta (or not).

“Push” is the theme here (and, yes, we’ve seen a lot of pushing already — pushing forward, pushing on, pushing through doors, pushing bricks from buildings atop passing children, pushing drugs, pushing women in front of subway trains, push-push-push). Now, Eddie’s trying to push Detta along the beach in the wheelchair, and Detta isn’t playing nice. The sand itself makes the pushing hard, but Detta’s not helping, spewing uncomfortable racial tirades as they go slowly.

They reach an easier, harder-packed stretch of sand, and — whoops! — Detta’s chair takes a nosedive with her tied in it, cackling wildly even though the movements make her ropes draw tighter and she is upside down. Later Eddie discovers Detta pulled the brake and upended herself.

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland offers to help push, but Eddie tells him his turn will come soon enough. I’m thinking right now, as Roland weakens, Eddie’s going to have his hands really, really full.  

Eddie realizes with some morbid amusement that if Roland had snatched Detta from 1987 (Eddie’s “when”), the wheelchair would have weighed a lot less because of better technology.

When Roland reaches out to wipe the blood from Detta’s head after the wheelchair spill, she snaps at him in anger. But he sees fear “hidden far back” in her eyes. She is afraid of him. Wonder if Odetta’s fear is what’s keeping Detta in place so long?


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 10

Roland insists on pushing the wheelchair for a while, but before too long, the chair gets bogged in the sand again and Eddie takes over the job of pushing the witch, as he’s come to think of her.

What Constant Reader Learns: By thinking of Detta as a “witch,” seems like Eddie is thinking of Detta/Odetta as separate people part of the time instead of parts of a whole, and has to keep reminding himself that Odetta is still inside. Not sure if this will have any bearing on how things play out with her.

Eddie and Detta exchange barbs all the way down the beach, and some of it’s pretty funny because as annoyed as Eddie gets with her, he doesn’t lose control: “F** you,” Detta spat. “Cram it, babe,” Eddie responded pleasantly.


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 11

Our merry threesome stops and rests for an hour at midday. Eddie and Roland eat some leftover lobstrosity, but Detta’s still refusing to eat, claiming they’re trying to poison her.

While Detta babbles her string of obscenities, Roland and Eddie talk. “I can only understand about one word in every ten she says,” Roland tells Eddie, who says he can get two of every three but it really only comes back to honky mahfah. “Do many of the dark-skinned people talk that way where you come from?” Roland asks, to which Eddie responds, “No... it’s not real. It’s not real and she doesn’t even know it... She’s a pretty good actress...She sounds like a cross between the darkies in this book called Mandingo I read once and Butterfly McQueen in Gone with the Wind. I know you don’t know those names, but what I mean is she talks like a cliche.”

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland realizes Eddie’s observations about Detta making up her own “chain of memories” is right. Detta really believes they tried to poison her and ate beef in front of her, taunting her with it. “In the world of Detta Walker, Honk Mahfahs only did two things to brown women: raped them or laughed at them.”

Roland thinks about Tull — the last time he really ate beef — and wishes he had a beer. I’m thinking Ro’s got the right idea.

So, Eddie and Roland realize Detta is a cartoon character, a cliche. I could look for deep, dark meaning here and wander in literary hellholes, uh, I mean mazes. But really, it might be that in Odetta’s mind, which is where Detta was born, the cartoon woman is the only kind of “opposite” Odetta herself knows. She grew up rich and privileged, so a cartoon urban black woman is probably all she had to base her alter on. Might be as simple as that. Or not.


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 12

Roland uses his last sure cartridge to kill the night’s lobstrosity, leaving him only the cartridges that got wet, which might or might not fire.

Once again, Detta refuses to eat — she begins rocking the wheelchair, trying to turn it over so the guys can’t eat, and they brace the chair. Finally, she falls asleep

Eddie touches Roland’s face to test his fever, and Roland says he’s okay but he realizes both of them are showing signs of malnutrition. Roland worries that Eddie will get sick from exhaustion, and they both are showing signs of malnutrition — cold sores, scaly patches on their skin, loose teeth.

They talk about how far the third door might be and agree that they’re “neck deep in shit” — which makes them both laugh a little too hard. Aww…the boys are bonding. There is a real affection growing between them.

Roland says he’s turning in and tells Eddie to “be on his guard.” Again.

What Constant Reader Learns: Even sick, Roland is protective of Eddie, and I don’t think it’s simply based on his own self-preservation (lesson of Jake revisited). He doesn’t want to burden Eddie further with the knowledge that their last live ammo is gone now and worries about Eddie’s health as the younger man’s forced to carry more and more of the load.

Interesting that Roland recognizes the signs of scurvy — “Shipmate’s Disease,” he calls it — and recognizes they need fruit and greens. Since I have only seen Roland in the desert and mountains and beach, I wonder what his experience is on the water, or if this is something he’s only heard of before?


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 13

As soon as the guys go to sleep, Detta starts screaming. By the time Eddie jumps up, Roland’s already on his feet with his gun drawn. As soon as she sees they’re up, Detta stops screaming, saying she wants to make sure they’re on their toes in case there are “woofs” around.

“Don’t do it again,” Roland tells her, assuring her that if (as she asserts) they were planning to rape her, she would be “one well-raped woman by now.”

They go to sleep again and... Detta starts screaming again. This time, Eddie sees Roland walk to her and is sure he’s going to “swat her like a fly.” Instead, Roland drops to his knees, and says: “Listen to me, Odetta.” And Eddie can see fear on Detta’s face. Detta yammers at Roland, but he ignores her except for a quick “shut up” and keeps addressing Detta quietly.

Finally, Detta falls silent, and Eddie “had never in his life seen such hate and fear combined in human eyes.” Roland tells Odetta not to let Detta wake them up a third time, or he will be forced to gag her. “Honky voodoo bullshit,” she whispers at him, but then she shuts up.

What Constant Reader Learns: Okay, Detta’s kind of amusing me in the sheer inventiveness of her ways to torture the guys. Screaming so they can’t sleep? Brilliant.

Now, what is Roland up to? Can he reach Odetta while she’s inside Detta? This never worked on One Life to Live with Vicky/Nick and Tess/Jess. Uh, not that I ever watched soap operas.

There’s something kind of otherworldly about Roland’s voice as it’s being interpreted through Eddie’s point of view: it’s “silken” and “like the onset of rain.” He seems to have gotten through to Odetta, though — or else he just scared the crap out of Detta.

When Eddie wakes up, he’s hoping Odetta will be there, but no such luck... Detta’s on a rant about how Roland’s going to be dead before long, but for today, she’s going to make their day memorable. And Detta’s “memorable” is kind of a scary thing to contemplate.


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 14

Another day of pushing along the beach. Detta’s chair fell over twice — the first time her handiwork and the second when Eddie pushed too hard in a sand trap.

They stop after about three miles, waiting for the lobstrosities to come out. Finally, Roland tells Eddie they’re out of live shells, and he’s pleased when Eddie doesn’t panic. Roland tells him he’ll have to try to kill one with a rock.

What Constant Reader Learns: Eddie’s getting fed up and exhausted. When Roland loosens the slipknots tying Detta to the chair, he almost tells Ro to let her choke. Then he remembers Odetta, although her memory is growing dim.

Eddie and Roland channel their inner 12-year-olds and share a big laugh over “ka” and “kaka.”


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 15

Eddie managed to kill a lobstrosity for dinner, although we don’t get any details. Detta is still refusing to eat, but Eddie continues to try and coax her to try it.

What Constant Reader Learns: Eddie’s bouncing between wanting to kill Detta and wanting to help her survive. They need to get Detta the Humpty Dumpty put back together again, or it’ll be Eddie gibbering on the beach.


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 16

Ro and Eddie make it through a night without Detta screaming...but she was still there the next morning.

What Constant Reader Learns: Well nothing, really, except Detta’s been around for an extended time, so I’m wondering if it’s because Odetta on some level thinks Detta can deal with this situation better, or if I’m just trying to insert too much logic into a situation where there is none.

I’m also thinking (much too practically since fictional characters don’t have bodily functions) how they’re managing the whole Detta’s-tied-to-a-chair-so-how-does-she-use-the-bathroom issue.


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 17

Next day, they make it only two miles — their speed is dwindling despite Detta’s relatively calm day. “Three fatal factors were drawing inexorably together,” we’re told. “Eddie’s weariness, the terrain, which after endless days of endless days of sameness, was finally beginning to change, and Roland’s deteriorating condition.”

Eddie is worried-beyond-worried about Roland, who this time “seemed not so much to be burning as fading, losing himself, becoming transparent.” The red lines of infection have returned.

As Eddie goes to sleep that night, he thinks “two terrible thoughts” — what if there is no third door? And what if Odetta is dead, leaving only Detta?

What Constant Reader Learns: I had a horrific notion that Roland could be lying on the beach dying — or even in the desert beyond Tull, or the mountains — and all of this is merely a figment of his dying mind. Kind of like the classic cliffhanger ending on Dallas all those years ago that had people talking and talking and next season, it all ended up to be a dream.

So, our travelers are coming to the end of the beach, and the sound of a “very large cat” squalling in the hills ahead mean we have some new monstrosities on the way, I’m guessing.


The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 18

With a “Rise and shine, mahfah,” Eddie startles awake to see Detta’s still around. She tells him Roland’s dead.

For a moment, Eddie thinks she’s right — Roland’s still in his blanket. But eventually Ro manages to sit up, then stand, and Eddie likens it to watching televised fights back in his youth. The contender would be beaten to a pulp and still kept climbing to his feet — and Eddie would always wonder why the officials didn’t just stop the fight. But there’s no way to stop this one.

Detta has a headache, a short screaming fit about breaking a blue plate (for special), and then — ta-dah — Odetta returns. “Dear God, I’ve fainted again, haven’t I?” she says, all prim and proper.

And Roland promptly faints “some thirty miles south of the place where the Western Sea’s beach came to an end.”

What Constant Reader Learns: Oh boy — sounds like we’re about to start a new phase of our journey. How in the world is Eddie going to manage? And where are they going to get help for Roland?

That’s it for this week! Next week — same time, same place — we’ll read the first half of the next section of The Drawing of the Three, titled “Reshuffle.”

Karen Attaway
1. Karen Attaway
Freaky!!! I started reading The Dark Tower Series last week and dang if we aren't on the exact same chapter. This is great and I'm loving the books!
Suzanne Johnson
2. SuzanneJohnson
Welcome to the read, Karen--and it is freaky that you're on the same chapter! Downright Stephen King-ish, in fact.
Karen Attaway
3. Karen Attaway
Very much so, Suzanne!
Karen Attaway
4. trench
love at first sight, no problem, inter demesional portatals to NYC, I am cool with that, hitchhiking a ride in someone else's mind, doesn't bother me a bit. But being able to push a wheel chair on the beach, especially one from the 60's strains my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.

I think someone tried to talk to Viki while she was Niki before, I think it was Dorian Lord or mabye the good Joey Buchanan.... I mean I don't watch soaps either!
Daniel Goss
5. Beren
Pushing a wheelchair on the beach . . . yeah, that does strain credulity. On the other hand, they're presumably staying above the tide line (did-a-chick? dum-a-chum?) so maybe the sand they're on is more hard-packed than 'beach' sand?
Karen Attaway
6. Lsana
As with last week, remember that Roland is not an ordinary guy. Yeah, I don't think that anyone was able to reach Vicki inside of Niki or Jessica inside of Tess...or so I heard...oh, heck, even if no one else will, I'll admit I've watched my share of soaps, including the whole Jess/Tess affair.

Anyhow, my point was that Roland is a gunslinger, and as with the "fake sleep/real sleep" issue last week, he can do things that aren't possible for someone in our world or for an ordinary person in his. I don't want to go into more detail for fear of touching the spoiler rail, but I think it's absolutely possible that he can reach Odetta-inside-Detta even if it is "supposed to be" impossible.
Suzanne Johnson
7. SuzanneJohnson
@trench...we've been outed! I think it was the good Joey Buchanan. :-) and @Beren...yeah, the whole wheelchair on the beach thing is pushing it (ha, pun intended) but SK does talk about how the sand is hard-packed in some places and Eddie struggles with it when it gets into the soft sand. Still...
Tricia Irish
8. Tektonica
I’m also thinking (much too practically since fictional characters don’t have bodily functions) how they’re managing the whole Detta’s-tied-to-a-chair-so-how-does-she-use-the-bathroom issue.

LOL! God, I thought I was the only person who ever thinks these thoughts! Roland is ill with infection and fever, they kill lobstrositites because they need food, but the! never! Not that I want to read that stuff, but a mention? I mean, it's a universal function/problem.

I'm loving your Read, but I don't know how you can go so slowly, Suzanne! It's driving me crazy!
Suzanne Johnson
9. SuzanneJohnson
@Tektonica...LOL. Glad I'm not the only one with "practical" thoughts. I sped up for a while but am trying to keep my posts about 2,000 words so they don't go on so long. It's driving me crazy too, though!
Karen Attaway
10. Improbable Joe
You know how you go through the door and you can bring things with you? You can't bring poop from our side to their side. So when Odetta went through the door and disappeared from the store, she left all the poop in her guts over here. Since Detta won't really eat anything, she doesn't need bathroom breaks.

Or something.
Suzanne Johnson
11. SuzanneJohnson
@Joe...LOL. See, I knew there was a logical explanation for it :-)
Karen Attaway
12. Improbable Joe
See, that's why me and Stephen King are writing a new novella set in the Dark Tower universe, kind of a 2.5 book. The working title is The Dark Tower: The Poopening.
Suzanne Johnson
13. SuzanneJohnson
@Joe...Oh boy--better get that out on the market in time for me to work it in my reads between Drawing of the Three and Wastelands. Hm...waste..lands...good segue.
Risha Jorgensen
14. RishaBree
If nothing else, no matter how hard it is to read, this section brilliantly showcases Detta. Smart, tough as nails, and genuinely scary. No one smart would ever piss her off and then turn their back on her, major disability or no, because she will find a way to fuck your shit up.

I don't think that we ever hear anything about Roland and sailing, one way or another. He comes from the very upper class of a moderately sophisticated society, though, and is as a consequence reasonably well educated. Learning about malnutrition as part of his training, or just his regular education, is more than likely.

I always just assumed that Roland is really, really good at threats when he wants to sleep!
Suzanne Johnson
15. SuzanneJohnson
@RishaBree...Totally agree about this whole chapter on Detta. In a lot of ways the over-the-top, cartoonish language makes her more sinister. I fear for Eddie :-)...And if Roland ever talked to me in that silky, threatening voice? Oh yeah, I'd keep my mouth shut and let the man sleep.
Thomas Stessl
16. tommythecat
There is a perfectly reasonable and mundane explanation for Roland's silky voice trick...

Being as I grew up when parents were still allowed to at least yell at their kids, there were a few stages to the process. For an example I will use making to much noise and waking your parents up late at night...

First time mom comes and yells at you. Second time, mom comes and yells again, but in that more strained and angry voice. Third time, dad comes down, but doesn't yell. He uses that calm, quiet, dare I say, silken voice to let you know that it better not happen again. Suddenly you feel that sleep doesn't seem like such a bad idea and decide to turn in yourself. ;)
Suzanne Johnson
17. SuzanneJohnson
@tommythecat...Ha--that makes sense. Except in my household, if I heard the "I'm going to let your dad deal with this" speech after all the mom yelling, I knew I was off the hook because dad was a softie. But I can see where soft and "silky" is more of a threat (or a promise).
craig thrift
20. gagecreedlives
Nothing really to add. Agree whole heartedly with tommythecat and pushing a 60's era wheelchair along a beach while suffering malnutrition and heroin withdrawal would not be fun at all.

Also looks like the Dark Tower movie might be back on track after all. The producers have managed to shave 40-50 million off the budget which should get them back on track.

Still not decided if thats a good thing or not.

Sorry if this ends up being a triple post but I tried to add a link to the article about the movie and it got flagged as spam
Suzanne Johnson
21. SuzanneJohnson
@gagecreedlives...Yay--so glad to hear the movie deal might be back on. And of course there's a new Dark Tower Book #8 coming out in I need to get busy and finish the first seven!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
22. tnh
Gagecreed, your comments were temporarily stuck in the "unpublished" queue because they contained URLs. Not every comment with a link in it gets held, but it happens one or two times a day. It's a side effect of the spam filters.
craig thrift
23. gagecreedlives
Yeah no dramas. Appears as though Tor was about to announce the same info anyway
Karen Attaway
24. Kadere
@21 The new Dark Tower book is actually book 4.5. It takes place between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. So you can read it after book 4 if you wish.
Suzanne Johnson
25. SuzanneJohnson
@Kadere...Didn't realize that. Awesome! Hope the timing works out.
Karen Attaway
26. TrickyFreak
I’m also thinking (much too practically since fictional characters don’t have bodily functions) how they’re managing the whole Detta’s-tied-to-a-chair-so-how-does-she-use-the-bathroom issue.

Totally LOLed @Improbable Joe. But yeah, no food at all means no sh*t.

Excited for the prospect of DT4.5, as it means more moments with our favorite band of travellers. Though if you'd include it in the read-through, Suzanne—nice name btw (*hint* at co-DT graduates. This ain't a spoiler, right? LOL) I digress]—I must get a copy immediately upon release.

Excited for the prospect of DT movie's come back. Who knows, a lower budget might give the films a more indie, raw/realistic feel. Wonder who gets casted as Jake Eddie and (O)Detta.

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