Saturday, September 8, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter IX - page 8


Panel 3:  Sally’s comment regarding Laurie – that she’s “fragile” – is not only a commentary on this memory we are experiencing, but, when juxtaposed with the falling bottle of Nostalgia perfume in this panel, is also a comment on the bottle of perfume. 
More importantly, this single word is also a comment on the fragility of the memories that Laurie is reliving and acts as a bit of foreshadowing for the climax of this chapter.  We, and Laurie, will learn just how fragile those memories of hers are when she comes to realize that much of what she has believed about her heritage, and much of what has colored her relationship with her mother – as well as the limited relationship she had with Edward Blake – was wrong.

And the cascading bottle of perfume (spilling its contents across this red world), along with the word “fragile,” signify the end of this flashback and transition directly into

Panel 4: where the snowglobe falls and shatters at Laurie’s and her stepfather’s feet, spilling water across the floor.

This shattered snowglobe can be seen in various symbolic lights.  It can obviously symbolize the deteriorating marriage of Schexnayder and Sally Jupiter.  It could also represent the eventual schism between Sally and her daughter as Sally tries to push Laurie into costumed adventuring.  The shattered globe could also represent the shattered dreams of our heroes. But perhaps the most significant symbolism, and foreshadowing, that one can take away from this shattered snowglobe – dropped from Laurie’s hands – will be Laurie’s shattered reality, revealed at the end of this chapter.

Another recurring motif in this chapter is the fact that every flashback scene ends with the spilling of a liquid, in one form or another, from a shattered vessel.

Panel 6:  And here, as a natural consequence of the conversation Laurie is having with Dr. Manhattan, Laurie “reveals” to Dr. Manhattan that she is in a relationship with Dan Dreiberg.  Even though Dr. Manhattan shared this pending moment only two pages prior, it come so naturally from the discussion they are having that it doesn’t feel like a significant revelation.
It is this authenticity of Moore’s dialogue, along with the sublime characterizations by Gibbons, that really sells these types of moments. 

Note how the final bit of dialogue by Laurie – “[Dan’s] the type [of person] you can pour your troubles out to…” – is emphasized by the imagery in the foreground of this panel, the cup and chalice that Dr. Manhattan created only moments before.

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