The Dark Tower (Series) | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Dark Tower (Series) | Quotes


The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Narrator, The Gunslinger

The first and last line of the series indicates the cyclical nature of Roland's quest. Until Roland gets the quest right, he is always doomed to pursue the man in black across the desert. The simplicity of the sentence highlights the simplicity of Roland's mission: to pursue and defeat evil.


Go then. There are other worlds than these.

Jake Chambers, The Gunslinger

Jake finds himself hanging over an abyss, with Roland forced to choose whether to save Jake or abandon his quest. Roland lets Jake fall, and Jake's last words speak to both his bitterness at being left ("go then") and hint at the vast universe they both occupy. Jake has fallen into Mid-World seemingly by chance when killed on Earth, so he knows he is likely to end up in yet another reality when he falls.


No man sees all ... but ... you'll see more ... than some men see in a lifetime.

Cort, The Drawing of the Three

Roland remembers the instruction he received from his trainer Cort, back in Gilead. Cort's instructions show what it means to be a gunslinger: precise vision, attention to minute detail, and the ability to interpret in a flash. Most importantly, gunslingers' training turns them into something nearly superhuman.


If dying was required, he intended to die as Roland ... crawling toward the Tower.

Narrator, The Drawing of the Three

While Roland draws Eddie from his version of America into Mid-World, he hears the man in black tempting him to just stay in this world and this body. Roland's commitment to the Tower is total; he is not afraid to die—and there is a chance he will while occupying Eddie's body and world—but he is afraid of abandoning his quest. Turning back is not an option for Roland.


Some tale-tellers say the Beams saved it; others say they are the seeds of the world's destruction.

Roland Deschain, The Waste Lands

Roland provides a brief explanation of the unstable state of his world and all other worlds and introduces the conflict between nature and technology that defines the quest. The Old Ones rebuilt nature using their technology—this includes the 12 Beams held together at the Dark Tower—and they thought their technology was an improvement. In the long run the technological improvements have become so dangerously unstable that no one knows whether they are really helpful or harmful.


See the TURTLE of enormous girth ... On his shell he holds the earth.

Jake Chambers, The Waste Lands

Jake is quoting a rhyme he has heard before, but it references a mythology that underpins much of the Dark Tower quest. This statement expresses the possibility that beyond all creation and belief systems there is something deeper and more profound. For Jake and the ka-tet this is the possibility that the entire universe, all worlds, are held on the back of a turtle. This theory has roots in both Native American and Hindu belief structures.


There are forces at work ... not all ... are working to keep us away from the Tower.

Roland Deschain, Wizard and Glass

After Eddie appears to destroy Blaine the Mono in a riddling match, the ka-tet worries that Blaine isn't really gone. They are suspicious about Blaine's destruction because, thus far, the group has been under constant siege and attack from forces that want to hinder or destroy them. This is one of the first indications of optimism from Roland, in which he admits that powerful forces are also working in their favor.


Take us back to the Path of the Beam. ... That's our way home.

Susannah Dean, Wizard and Glass

In The Wizard of Oz–like glass palace, Walter plays the Wizard and asks Susannah if she wants to go home to New York. Her response solidifies her commitment to the quest for the Tower and her understanding that their lives will never be the same. She, Jake, and Eddie belong here, on this quest. The only way they will ever feel at home somewhere else is if they complete their parts of the quest.


If ... we can help them, then we have to help them. That's ... the Eld's way.

Eddie Dean, Wolves of the Calla

When the ka-tet arrives in the Calla, they learn of the Wolves (minions of the Crimson King) who take the children away from the village. Eddie's question sums up the moral code of the gunslinger. In previous volumes Roland often appears aloof and obsessed with the quest over all else. This is true, but another facet of his training and his heritage as a descendant of Arthur Eld holds him to the chivalric principle of providing assistance wherever it is needed. This was a code followed by King Arthur's knights of old, preserved by the gunslingers.


Balls to your sorry ... Ka works and the world moves on.

Roland Deschain, Wolves of the Calla

When Roland discovers one of the residents of the Calla has betrayed them to the Wolves, he dismisses the man's apology. At the same time he acknowledges this betrayal and whatever comes of it—either for his own people or for the traitor—rests entirely on the whim of ka, which loosely translates as destiny or fate. Throughout his quest Roland repeats this belief and his willingness to hand over control of his fortunes to this mysterious force.


Don't say ka, Roland. If you say ka one more time ... my head'll explode.

Eddie Dean, Song of Susannah

While Roland's upbringing and his training as a gunslinger have given him profound faith in the power of ka, Eddie lacks the same background. His wife is missing, and Eddie wants to find her. He is ruled by his emotions and frustrated by his helplessness in the situation. Roland's references to destiny and fate only frustrate him more under the circumstances.


Ka comes to me ... I translate it ... I am not ka ... I hate it!

Stephen King, Song of Susannah

Roland and Eddie visit Stephen King after they learn Father Callahan is a character in one of King's books. They have a crisis among themselves, wondering if they are fictions or if King is a god. Under hypnosis King explains that he is not a god, he is just a pipeline and translator for the visions and images ka (destiny) sends him. Roland is convinced the translation is essential to their mission, but King finds the control of ka and the images it sends frightening.


May you find your Tower ... and breach it, and may you climb to the top!

Father Donald Callahan, The Dark Tower

Father Callahan has mostly lost his faith until he is caught in an onslaught of vampires while he and Jake try to rescue Susannah. Callahan sacrifices himself to save Jake, and his last words are a blessing to Roland. These final words show Father Callahan's absolute loyalty to Roland and to the quest, and they show he has found faith again by way of the quest because he is making the blessing on behalf of his God. That Roland fulfills Father Callahan's words indicates the blessing might even have worked.


This is your promise ... things may be different ... there may yet be rest. Even salvation.

Gan, The Dark Tower

When Roland reaches the end of his quest, the hand of Gan pushes him out of the Tower and back to the desert where he began, where he has started the quest countless times before. This time Gan gives him the horn of Arthur Eld, an item Roland has never had before that he is supposed to blow from the Tower when he arrives. All Roland's questing has earned him is this horn along with a promise that the next time he reaches the Tower he might have peace.


It's ... a job that needs to be done ... wrong cannot be allowed to stand.

Steven Deschain, The Wind Through the Keyhole

Steven Deschain sends young Roland on a mission to stop a skin man—a man who can take on the form of animals—in a town under Deschain's rule. He explains Roland's role simply, which lends insight into the role of the gunslingers in general and Roland's mentality as a man. Some jobs need to be done because evil can't be allowed to stand. This is why Roland accepts his father's command, and it is why Roland takes on the quest for the Tower years later even though no one commands it. Evil can't be allowed to win, so Roland commands himself to take the quest to the Tower.

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