Thursday, November 1, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter XI - thematic overview


Thematic Overview: 

This penultimate chapter focuses on Adrian Veidt – Ozymandias.  Detached from humanity, his only kinship with a king, Alexander of Macedon, who died over 2300 years earlier, Veidt is a singular being.  His admiration for the lateral thinking of Alexander, with the ancient king’s solution of simply cutting the Gordian Knot, is second to none and has fueled aspirations to solve his own Gordian Knot – the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction was a “knot to try even Alexander’s ingenuity” (p. 21). 

Fittingly, this chapter revolves around knots, both literal and metaphorical.  The knot-tops, whom we have seen throughout the story, are the most obvious example of this motif, as Chapter XI opens, even though we don’t see any besides Aline until the very end of the chapter.  But they are mentioned a few times – specifically by the newsvendor, Bernie – as many knot-tops are at the Pale Horse/Krystalnacht concert in Madison Square Garden.

Aline carries another example of the “knots” motif in the form of the relationship advice book she shares with Joey, entitled Knots.  This is an obvious metaphor for the romantic entanglements we often find ourselves in, and the messy knots from which we must divest ourselves when those relationships do not work out.  And this reality plays out in front of us, as Joey and Aline suffer the fraying of their relationship.

These invisible connections are the ties that bind us as a civilization, and this most important and most significant knot is exemplified across the breadth of this chapter, as we watch the various secondary characters introduced over the course of this story all come together at a single intersection.  And it is at this intersection where the fragility of these binding connections is revealed, as Veidt puts his plan into action and devastates the city of New York – with this intersection as ground zero. 

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