Last week we got introduced to The Lady of Shadows as Eddie Dean grew ever frustrated in Roland's world. But there's more to Odetta than meets the eyes as we find out this week!
Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (1987), the 2nd book in The Dark Tower series. Several of us have just finished a trek through The Gunslinger (1982), which originally was a collection of short stories, later bound together, effectively capturing a world certainly familiar to us—Wild West background set to modern pop tunes—but stirring nightmarish images where time is out of mind and people displaced in various purgatories. The main protagonist, Roland Deschain of Gilead, is obsessed with locating the Dark Tower, so he shadows the man in black, who seems to have answers when confronted, though they are obtusely revealed with a turning over of Tarot cards. The man in black explained that Roland has caught the attention of his superior, who remains unknown, taking an interest in Roland’s endeavors.
*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!
With Stephen King's chapters getting a little strange, the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages), and each Tuesday we will meet to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we learn more about Miss (O)Detta. Join us in the comments for a lively discussion of Part IV of The Drawing of the Three: The Lady of Shadows, Chapter 2: “Ringing the Changes” – Reshuffle!
The Lady of Shadows, Chapter 2: “Ringing the Changes” – Reshuffle
Our reading group was left with one hell of a cliffhanger: Roland leaping through the second door right when the Lady of Shadows (as marked on the door), Odetta Holmes, is about to be nabbed for theft at Macy’s. Eddie had warned Roland not to go, and out of frustration he’s put Roland’s own knife to the gunslinger’s throat.
Roland zips Ms. Holmes away toward a dressing room so he can wheel her through the portal.
The moment the gunslinger heard the dressing room door bang shut behind him, he rammed the wheelchair around in a half turn, looking for the doorway. If Eddie had done what he had promised, it would be gone.
But the door was open. Roland wheeled the Lady of Shadows through it.
Eddie doesn’t kill Roland—which is good because then the series would be over—but by threatening Roland in such an extreme manner, it helps establish the level of frustration Eddie is feeling about his current lot and having to play along with Roland’s Dark Tower itinerary. “Tell her! … You brought her, so go on and tell her, man!”
And Roland does tell Odetta, though he leaves out some of the more gruesome details of the shootout at Balazar’s. Roland’s strength is once again weakening; he’s getting sicker, and Eddie explains to him he’s going to need more penicillin to kill the infection. But getting to the next door where’s there’s a possible cure is going to be a headache—like the kind Odetta regularly gets.
Roland and Eddie realize something is seriously wrong with Odetta, specifically that she’s operating with two distinct personalities: the calm, sophisticated, erudite Odetta and the “get away from me, honky” Detta. Odetta goes into more of her history and one of the accidents that shaped her. In a surprise turn, at least for me, Eddie and Odetta start falling for each other … almost a little too fast considering the predicament they find themselves involved in. But who knows, some form of Stockholm syndrome may be forming the strange ties that bind.
And holy hell, we are on that beach a looong, looong time. Fatigue started setting in for this reader, so I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it is for Eddie as he’s battling Detta, who slows him down at every pass. Also Detta’s grating cliché personality (explained as a cross between Gone with the Wind’s Butterfly McQueen with characters from Madingo) grows tedious with each “MAHFAH! HONKY MAHFAH!” she screams.
Eventually Eddie has to ditch the ailing Roland so he can push Odetta to the next door marked THE PUSHER. Roland had warned Eddie not to leave the gun her with. Of course, Eddie does because, besides the lobstrosities, there are now wildcats wailing in the distance and edging closer. He loves her, so he gives her the gun and traipses back to Roland, piling him into Odetta’s chair. When he and Roland return, no Odetta/Detta or the weapon.
The gunslinger looked at him for a long time and then nodded. “You mean to stay. All right. As Detta she’s safer from … from whatever wildlife there may be around here … than she would have been as Odetta, and you’d be safer away from her—at least for the time being—but I can see how it is. I don’t like it, but I’ve no time to argue with a fool.
So, with an exhausted Eddie Dean preparing to search for Odetta, who at the moment is Detta way up in the hills looking down at the two men with gun in hand ready to kill, Roland opens up the last door and wheelchairs his way through.
It took me until these passages to really appreciate how Mr. King is building upon The Gunslinger novel—which was a collection of short stories connected—by having Roland put together his team. Like The Outlaw Josey Wales (who was ambivalent about his hangers-on) or Lee Marvin’s character in The Dirty Dozen, we get to experience each of these characters fleshed out. After the wham-bam action of the first book leading into Eddie Dean and the shoot-out, this was an essential narrative shift. We are now moving forward as part of a mammoth undertaking led by arguably the 20th-century’s most gifted storyteller.
What do YOU think about the introduction of Detta and Odetta? Head to the comments and start/join the conversation!
*Remember: Be careful with your comments—NO SPOILERS! We will be moderating the comments and deleting anything we feel is a spoiler, so pause before you post and make sure you're not ruining it for someone else.
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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.