Jake Chambers Essay


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Created by , 08-16-2007 at 11:00 AM
Last edited by , 11-15-2010 at 10:49 PM
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John “Jake” Chambers is a fictional character in author Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Jake is the character with the dubious honor of dying the most times in The Dark Tower, at three.

Early Life

Jake has spent the majority of his childhood living with two indifferent parents who spend little or no time with him. He is raised by a succession of cooks, maids and teachers, which causes the boy to develop an almost businesslike way of dealing with people. He has few friends his own age, and is more comfortable in the company of adults. The closest thing Jake has to a parent is his housekeeper, Greta Shaw, who has given him the nickname 'Bama from a Crimson Tide chant. Jake fantasizes that if his parents were to die, Greta Shaw would raise him as his mother.

By the age of circa eleven (in 1977), Jake is a student at The Piper School, an affluent private school that is reputed to be the best in the country for a boy his age. He also bowls once a week at Mid-Town lanes, and has aspirations of becoming a bowler on the pro tour when he grows up.

First Death

Jake’s first foray into Mid-World is when he is pushed in front of a car by Jack Mort and killed. He dies in his world in 1977 and wakes up in The Way Station in the Mohaine Desert. He stays here for a while, not knowing where to turn and barely remembering his past life. One day he sees the Man in Black camp outside, but decides he is bad news and avoids him. A few days or weeks later, he meets with Roland for the first time, and joins him in the quest for the Dark Tower. They set off through the Mohaine Desert.

The succubus and the Slow Mutants

Jake is nearly killed in the speaking ring in the foothills of the Cyclopean Mountains in the Willow Jungle by a succubus that bides there. He is saved by Roland, who uses the jawbone he acquired at the Way Station to break the succubus’ spell.

Jake and Roland also narrowly escape certain death at the hands of the Slow Mutants while traveling under the mountains. When the slow mutants block the railroad track their handcar is traveling on, Jake must climb down and remove the blockage so that they may escape. He is worried the gunslinger will leave him to die, but Roland shoots the approaching slow mutants and, with the track cleared, the two make their way through the tunnel in the mountain.

Second Death

Jake’s second death is at the hands of the gunslinger himself. Jake and Roland emerge from the tunnel to find a dilapidated railroad trestle they must cross. Jake suggests going on foot, and they slowly make their way to the far end. Before they can get there, Jake begins to fall, and the Man in Black appears offering Roland a choice: himself or the boy. Roland sacrifices the boy to his quest for the Dark Tower, jumping to safety as the trestle falls into the river below. Jake’s final words as he falls from the trestle are “Go then, there are other worlds than these.”

Paradox

Later, when Roland encounters his third door on the beach, the one marked “The Pusher”, he stops Jack Mort from orchestrating Jake’s original death. This creates a paradox in which both Roland and the boy remember two timelines, one where Jake was in Roland’s world and one where he was not. Both Roland and Jake believe they are going mad, and neither is sure which timeline is the correct one.

Jake becomes obsessed with doors, believing one will lead him back to Roland’s world. Jake is finally sure he has gone insane when he hands in his English Composition Essay and discovers it is a rambling narrative about Roland and a train called [wiki]Blaine. Jake goes truant from school and wanders about, only to discover the magical singing rose in the vacant lot. He begins to dream of a younger version of Eddie Dean, who tries to tell him how to get back to Mid-World.

Jake eventually steals his father's Luger gun, and flees his home with no real destination. He follows a much younger Eddie to Dutch Hill, where he re-enters Mid-World through the abandoned Dutch Hill mansion. He is reunited with Roland and meets the adult Eddie and his wife Susannah, becoming part of their ka-tet. It is only a few days later when Oy joins the ka-tet. Oy, a billy-bumbler, quickly becomes a good friend of Jake's.

Becoming a gunslinger

Once in Mid-World, Jake exhibits a high degree of the touch, an ability by which he can read other people’s thoughts. Jake is careful with his talent; he feels prying into people’s minds unasked is impolite.

By the border of the city of Lud, Jake is kidnapped by Gasher, who brings him to the Tick-Tock Man. Oy and Roland set off trying to find Jake, driven especially by Roland's promise never to let Jake die again. At last they find him and rescue him from a certain death, thanks to Oy's ability to smell Jake's scent.

Jake becomes a gunslinger like his ka-mates, and exhibits a great amount of talent in Calla Bryn Sturgis when Roland uses the boy’s abilities to prove to the townspeople that they are who they claim to be.

Jake's relationship with Roland advances a greatly, especially after Roland saves him from Gasher, and in Calla Bryn Sturgis Roland starts thinking of Jake as his son. Meanwhile, Jake becomes acquainted with Benjamin Slightman, a boy his own age. For the first time, Roland sees Jake as a real child with friends, but he knows it will not last - the boy is a gunslinger, and can never have a real childhood.

Jake has a great part in fighting the Wolves, a battle in which Benjamin Slightman is killed. After Jake sees his friend's torn body, he too understands he no longer is a child. This is also when he first smokes a cigarette, which he is given by Roland.

The Dixie Pig

In Song of Susannah, Jake follows Susannah/Mia into New York of 1999 together with Pere Callahan. Here, they invade the Dixie Pig but are overpowered by taheen, low men and vampires. On the command of both Callahan and Roland, Jake flees and leaves Callahan to his death.

He travels on with Oy, and finally meets up with Roland, Eddie and Susannah. As he sees Roland, he calls him father for the first time, and Roland agrees to accepting him as his son.

Third Death
Jake dies a final time in Keystone World, where time only runs in one direction. A death in Keystone World is permanent – Jake will not return to Roland’s world again. Jake sacrifices himself to save the author, Stephen King, from being crushed under a speeding van. King survives, but it costs Jake his life. Jake is buried in the woods by a weeping Roland and Oy, and Irene Tassenbaum vows she will plant a rose on his grave.

Epilogue
In the epilogue, Jake is the brother of Eddie in an alternate version of New York in 1987, that Susannah enters through a door close to Can'-Ka No Rey. His last name is Toren (Dutch for Tower) instead of Chambers. King hints in the afterword that he might one day reunite with Oy in the form of a canine whose barks sounds like speech.

Original artwork by Michael Whelan

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References

Furth, Robin. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance. Scribner, 2006. ISBN 0743297342

King, Stephen. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, Book I, Revised). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032549

King, Stephen. The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, Book II). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032557

King, Stephen. The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, Book III). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032565

King, Stephen. Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, Book IV). Viking Adult, 2003. ISBN 0670032573

King, Stephen. Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, Book V). Donald M. Grant/Scribner, 2003. ISBN 1880418568

King, Stephen. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, Book VI). Donald M. Grant/Scribner, 2004. ISBN 1880418592

King, Stephen. The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, Book VII). Donald M. Grant/Scribner, 2004. ISBN 1880418622

Vincent, Bev. The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King’s Magnum Opus. New American Library, 2004. ISBN 0451213041

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