Literature Study GuidesWatchmenUnder The Hood Chapters 3 And 4 Summary

Watchmen | Study Guide

Alan Moore

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Watchmen | Under the Hood (Chapters 3 and 4) : Hollis Mason Autobiography | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 3

After bulking up at the Police Gymnasium and crafting himself a costume, Nite Owl hit the streets for the first time in early 1939. Other costumed vigilantes soon followed, including the Silhouette, Mothman, the Comedian, Silk Spectre, and Dollar Bill. Hollis has a few theories about why this assorted group of characters became vigilantes—some wanted publicity, some did it for adventure, and some did it for "a kind of excitement that was altogether more adult. " Some were racist, some admired Hitler, and some were legally insane. But they all had one thing in common: they wanted to make America "a safer and better place to live in." The public didn't really notice their quirks when they worked independently. That changed when they began working together.

Chapter 4

The Minutemen group was set up in 1939 by Sally Jupiter's publicist—and later husband—Laurence Schexnayder. The group got along well for the first few months, but then things started falling apart. The Comedian was kicked out in 1940 for attempting to rape Sally. In 1946 the Silhouette was kicked out of the group after it was learned she was a lesbian. Sally married in 1947 and left crime fighting for good when her daughter, Laurie, was born two years later. With "nobody interesting left to fight, nothing notable to talk about," the group faded into obscurity. Yet, according to Hollis, "[t]he damage had already been done."

Analysis

Hollis doesn't explicitly say what "damage" he thinks was done by the formation of the Minutemen, but it's clear he thinks the lasting results of vigilantism are less than desirable. His description of the assorted "superheroes" and their involvement with the group indicates they weren't exactly well suited for a life of crime fighting. Hollis was the only one with any known law enforcement experience; Captain Metropolis was a Marine, Dollar Bill was a college athlete, Hooded Justice was rumored to be a wrestler, and Silk Spectre was a model. Most got into the crime-fighting business for reasons that were anything but altruistic.

This is particularly true for Sally, who publicized herself as a vigilante to further her modeling career. In all the "photographs" depicting her as Silk Spectre, she never wears a mask over her face. She wanted people to know who she was, so she never tried to hide her face or identity. She adored the attention that came with crime fighting, even if her admirers focused on how she looked rather than how she handled herself in battle. This is evident in Chapter 2 when she shows Laurie the "Tijuana Bible," or sex comic, about her alter ego. Sally cared for more publicity than she did about protecting the streets from thugs and crooks. This is a sharp contrast to Hollis, who really wanted to fight crime without anyone knowing his real identity. That's not to say he gained nothing from vigilantism. He loved the adventure and the satisfaction of righting the world's wrongs. But he focused on making the world a better place; Sally focused on herself. If others were even half as self-centered as Sally, it would explain why the Minutemen experiment was ultimately, as Hollis sees it, a failure.

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