The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 4: The Pushing Place

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

In the the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger, Roland meets the boy Jake at the Way Station in the middle of the Mohaine Desert. Not knowing how he came to be there, Jake agrees to be hypnotized by the gunslinger after trying to explain to Roland that he had originally lived in a city with a statue standing in the water and buildings so tall they actually scraped the sky.

Once Jake is entranced by the skillful twirling of one of Roland's gun shells, he then describes the last few moments of his life before The Man in Black pushed him into the path of an oncoming blue, 1976 Cadillac DeVille that crushed him to death.

Only later, in The Drawing of the Three, is it revealed that Jack Mort is the one responsible for Jake's death at the intersection that Mort thinks of as the Pushing Place: Fifth Ave. and Forty-third St.

When Roland enters Jack Mort's mind through the mystic door labelled The Pusher, he interferes with his plans for the boy. Mort never gets the chance to try again after the gunslinger flings Mort's body into the path of a speeding subway train in Greenwich Village. This in turn creates a schism in both Roland and Jake's minds; if the boy never died in his own world how can he possibly have met the gunslinger at the Way Station?

In The Waste Lands, Jake thinks back to when the rift between these two realities began, how he suddenly had a sense of déjà vu, somehow sensing his own imminent death, as the details surrounding him become clearer and clearer. Ultimately, when he isn't pushed into traffic he then continues on his way to The Piper School, but all the while a voice inside keeps insisting that he did die, despite every indication to the contrary.

During our last visit to New York, I was amused to see a pretzel vendor on the same corner as described in The Waste Lands ('He's the one that yells "Oh my God, he's kilt!" Jake thought') even more incredible was the OZ moving truck parked across the street, The Wizard of Oz being an important theme later on in the Dark Tower series.

When the The Gunslinger was re-released in 2003 with revised and expanded material, Several parts of Jake's last moments were altered and fleshed out in greater detail, including a mention of reading a Clay Blaisdell western in the gym during period four lunch.

In 1977, the only novel featuring Clay Blaisdell (a name King would eventually borrow for the main character of his novel Blaze, published under his now infamous pseudonym, Richard Bachman) was Warlock by Oakley Hall (two other novels written by Hall featuring the character, The Bad Lands and Apaches were published in 1978 and 1986, respectively). What could be considered most interesting is that Warlock was originally published in September of 1958: a time period of great significance in King's most recent novel 11/22/63.

It's long been clear that most (if not all) of King's novels have a connection in some way or other to Roland's quest. Perhaps the forthcoming The Wind Through the Keyhole will finally shed light on how these novels relate to The Dark Tower as a whole.

Long days, pleasant nights!


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