Saturday, September 22, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter IX - page 23


Panel 1:  Again, we have Dr. Manhattan controlling the conversation, while the only parts of Laurie visible to us are portions of her legs.  Dr. Manhattan’s words obscure Laurie, as they instigate this final journey through her memories. 

The indistinct nature of memory is again symbolized visually by the warped reflection of Laurie, continuing with the chapter’s primary visual motif, which transitions directly to

Panel 2: where Laurie’s reflection is reversed as we flashback to the evening when she was a little girl exploring the darkened house while her mother and stepfather fought. 

The dialogue also threads these two panels together as Dr. Manhattan’s final word in panel 1 – “shouting” – sparks this memory in Laurie, as she returns to her mother’s diatribe at the point where she was telling Schexnayder that she “…shouted at [Blake]…” but “…couldn’t sustain…the anger.”

And this phrase – that Sally couldn’t sustain the anger – transitions directly to

Panel 3: where Dr. Manhattan advises Laurie to relax enough so that she might see the bigger picture. 

And Dr. Manhattan’s final comment to Laurie in this panel – “…as if you’re too delicate…” – transitions into

Panel 4: where we see a young Laurie peering into the fragile (or delicate) snowglobe once more, which is the most prevalent example of the blurred reflection motif found in this chapter.

Also noteworthy in this panel is the fact that the image, one we saw earlier, is from when Laurie was five, but the accompanying text, which we also read earlier, is from when she was thirteen.  Laurie’s memories are beginning to coalesce into a singular memory that will allow her to make the connections she has been missing, or denying, all these years.

Panel 5:  Laurie’s denial here – her remark that her life is “a dumb design…” – juxtaposed against the intricate design of Dr. Manhattan’s fortress provides a visual cue that this is not true, and can also be seen as a meta-commentary on the structure of this story as crafted by Moore & Gibbons.

Panel 6:  Moore continues tethering successive panels together as the remark by Blake from Laurie’s memory – “What do you think I am?” – transitions directly to

Panel 7:  where Dr. Manhattan tells Laurie he thinks she’s avoiding something.   Dr. Manhattan’s indictment, juxtaposed with the recurrence of Blake’s words in Laurie’s head, points us and Laurie to what she has been avoiding all her life.   

And Laurie’s final remark in this panel – “I-I’ve never had any occasion to avoid the truth…” – transitions into

Panel 8: where Blake’s past response – “…only once…” – answers how many times Laurie has had need to avoid the truth, and it all revolves around Blake and his intimate encounter with Sally.

As the remarks by Blake on that evening honoring him begin to swirl and congeal in Laurie’s mind, realization starts bubbling to the surface.

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