Headscratchers / The Dark Tower

  • Who is actually in charge in Gilead? Is there a King somewhere? Roland's father seems more like one of the top (if not the top Gunslinger, but it's always seemed to me that there's some sort of monarchy system here.
    • Gilead is also referred to as "The Affiliation of Baronies", so it appears that Gunslingers hold equivalent rank to feudal Barons. Cribbing from The Other Wiki: "William I introduced the rank of baron in England to distinguish those men who had pledged their loyalty to him under the feudal system... All who held their feudal barony 'in-chief of the king', that is with the king as his immediate overlord, became alike barones regis ('barons of the king'), bound to perform a stipulated annual military service, and obliged to attend his council... Initially those who held land directly from the king by military service, from earls downwards, all bore alike the title of baron, which was thus the factor uniting all members of the ancient baronage as peers one of another." So it seems to me that Gunslingers are also hereditary Barons. Roland's family in particular is descended from Arthur Eld, the last King. This might not be true of every gunslinger, but I would guess that Roland's original ka-tet- Cuthbert, Alain, and Jamie- were also in the line of Eld. Between them all, the gunslinger families run Gilead. They do form a hereditary monarchy, but it's also a meritocracy where each must survive the tests to become a gunslinger, thus proving his worth. Those who don't are "sent West".
  • One thing about the end always bugged me: So, Susannah goes of to live in an alternate dimension where Jake and Eddie are still alive. In the new world, they're brothers. Sounds good, but...in the new world, they're the same age as the Eddie and Jake that Susannah knows. In the main universe, Jake was brought into Mid-World about a decade before Eddie was, and when they began the quest Eddie was in his 20s and Jake was 13. So they should be about equal in age by this time. I understand that it's an alternate universe, but how could this affect when people are born?
    • And also...if the Kat-tet are the same ages in the alternate universe as in the main one, then isn't it only a matter of time until Susannah runs into an alternate version of herself? Isn't this going to cause some drama...?
      • Yeah, it might. But it doesn't matter to me. They're together, and they are in a normal world, which is way better than Roland got. It might get weird if they ran into alternate versions of themselves, but that's not really what the book is about, is it?
    • It's the world of 19. Susannah frequently asks what year it is in her dreams only to be met with the answer "19". It's a world shaped around what she needs, so they are the ages they need to be and it is unlikely that she'd have a twinner running about.
  • If Jake, Eddie, and Susannah come from an Alternate Universe in which Stephen King does not exist, why is it that when Eddie and Roland look through the second unfound door on the beach in The Drawing of the Three and see through Detta's eyes, Eddie remembers a scene from The Shining, a movie adaptation of a book by Stephen King?
    • It's possible that a version of The Shining was written by another author in this universe (Stephen King may be unique in the multiverse, but Dean Koontz ain't.)
      • There was actually a hoax perpetrated on eBay a while back, where someone offered for sale - and then withdrew - a first edition of The Shining with the name Richard Bachman on the front cover.
      • Which is probably the answer—in the universe Eddie et. al. are from, Bachman wrote books sufficiently similar to King's oeuvre to cause similar movies.
      • That's not it. Richard Bachman is Stephen King's pseudonym.
      • Perhaps Richard Bachman exists in their universe, and uses "Stephen King" as his pseudonym?
      • Not the first time I've heard that theory. I've even seen fanfics about it.
      • I seem to recall that idea popping up in a couple of King/Bachman's own books, but I don't remember which.
    • If you've seen The Shining, and read the book as well, they're different enough that Kubrick might just have made the movie without the book existing at all.
      • That's what I thought; it was a subtle Take That. King's annoyance with Kubrick's changes is legendary.
      • Or maybe the events at the Overlook Hotel really happened in the alternate universe Eddie came from, and the scene he remembered was from a documentary about the tragedy.
      • Or more likely, a fictional film based on the real-life events.
        • Eddie unwittingly went through one of Sombra Corporation's doors into Keystone New York, watched the movie, and then found another door back; but, being high, he had no idea he'd traveled between worlds and never found his way back again until his adventures with Roland.
  • Was Farson consciously in league with the Crimson King, or just manipulated by Walter towards CK's ends?
    • Wasn't it implied Farson was Walter originally? Though the recent comics seem to show them to be different.
      • The revised version of The Gunslinger has Roland considering how Farson was an alias of Marten (AKA Walter) in a flashback. The last book, however, has a scene from Walter's point of view where he thinks back to working with Farson. I suspect that the first reference is incorrect, and was due to Roland being misinformed.
      • Or else Walter/Flagg/etc. was Clark Kenting again. He's done it before as Marten.
      • Regarding the original question - Farson uses the Crimson Kings eye glyph, so he probably was in on the conspiracy.
  • The body swap between Jake and Oy. Yes, I understand they have a close relationship and all, but there was never any indication that either of them could do that before they just did.
    • Did there need to be? It's a King novel. Stranger things have happened, and it's not like they just walked into it like they'd been doing it for years, either. It was strange for everyone.
      • Plus, it's stated many, many times in the book that Jake is extremely gifted with "The Touch", a vaguely-defined ability that is only semi-described as basically being "magic psychic powers". With something as nondescript and poorly-defined as The Touch, swapping bodies(or, rather, connecting minds) with a lower life-form doesn't seem like that much of a stretch. Just be glad it wasn't used too egregiously by King as a case of New Powers as the Plot Demands, because Gan knows he could and would completely get away with it. With such a nebulous concept as The Touch at his disposal, he could have went an entirely different route.
  • There are many, many problems of detail that are most succinctly explained by "King didn't have a series bible and screwed up".
    • On the plane with Eddie, Roland sees a stewardess in pants and the narration mentions that he could "see the place where her legs became her crotch, something he had never before seen on any woman who was not naked". Then, in Wizard and Glass, Roland meets Susan when the latter is wearing riding breeches.
      • Ah, but Susan did end up naked.
      • Those must have been some loose riding breeches.
    • Maybe each book is from a separate cycle.
      • This is actually a fairly popular theory among the fanbase and would explain some of the detail errors quite nicely.
      • Concerning Roland's first meeting with Susan, this is only feasible if Roland's life since adolescence is part of the repeating cycle. It's unclear whether that's the case, because, although Roland has the horn at the start of the latest cycle, the cycle doesn't seem to start until he's in the desert.
      • Alternatively, King just made mistakes. Yup, that's it, King just messed up when he wrote it. Simple as that. But remember that a very crucial part of the story is the natural fallibility of writers and story tellers.
      • When King revised The Gunslinger he said in the intro that he had decided that it was time to begin the overall revisions (emphasis mine). He hasn't got around to revising the rest yet and probably never will, just as he'll never finish The Plant.
      • Perhaps the horn is the final Deus ex Machina in the cycle. Roland has been finding the tower and repeating the cycle countless hundreds or even thousands of times in his world, but maybe this is the first time (the time we're reading it) that he's had to save King's life. So (fictional) King wrote the horn into Roland's hip pocket this time around, as a way to thank him for saving him... giving him the tool he needs to escape the cycle.
  • When the Crimson King became trapped on the Dark Tower's balcony why didn't he simply jump off of it and re-enter the tower. He had already made himself immortal so there wasn't any chance of the fall killing him.
    • The Dark Tower itself was basically a big ol' hunk of pure magic. It doesn't have to follow normal rules of gravity.
    • Maybe it was an overbuilt balcony for use in bad weather?
    • It was also possible that A)The Tower trapped him there, and wouldn't let him jump, and B)If he did get out and re-entered that he would just end up on another balcony (or possibly the same one). The Tower has always seemed to be on Roland's side.
    • Considering that the only way to open The Tower doors was with Roland's guns (which CK didn't have) and with what The Tower ultimately ends up being, the Crimson King probably wanted to be on the balcony just to have a better vantage point to kill Roland. Assuming he's still somewhat sane enough to even have a plan in place.
  • Just to be sure, Randall is Flagg is Walter is Marten? that seems what it was set up like.
    • Yes. But not Farson.
    • Roland guesses at one point that Flagg might have been Farson as well, but the books never make it clear. The comic series shows Farson talking to Marten, and makes Farson out to be more an incarnation of the Crimson King.
  • Also, Remember the Purple Grass? what the fuck happened to that?
    • I think that was just supposed to represent the Tower itself.
    • The rose is in an abandoned lot. The purple could be paint?
      • Read from "From a Buick 8"
  • Was this Inspired By the 19th-century poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came?
    • Yes, it's stated in the supplementary material, and the poem is included at the end of The Dark Tower
  • In relation to the errors mentioned above, it -is- a big part of the book that reality itself was crumbling like a big...crumbly thing.
  • If the wheelchairs worked so well in that realm Eddie stole from, why not try a car?
    • The highways are all jam-packed with derelict cars. They wouldn't have been able to get anywhere through all that.
    • Also, a wheelchair is a very simple device, compared a car. Internal combustion engines aren't as simple as a pair of wheels. And then there's the matter of fuel.
      • This is backed up by the fact that they did once find an electric wheelchair for Susannah, but left it behind because they had no way to keep it charged.
  • It is very unclear to me that Roland even knew where the heck he was going before he found The Beam. Confusing.
    • He didn't. That was why he was running after the Man in Black, to find the Path of the Beam.
    • Even after his meeting with Marten, he still doesn't know exactly which direction to travel. When Eddie asks him about it at the start of the third book, he says he's waiting for the jawbone to speak again. But ka leads them to run into Shardik the bear first.
    • When he finds the path of the beam, it's implied he was always aware of it. But the quest to catch the Man in Black sidetracked following it, and later, the pull to draw the three takes him subconsciously down the beach. He was taking a break after the adventures on the beach to heal and train his new apprentices. After the battle with Shardik essentially gives his apprentice their "trial" to become gunslingers, Roland is satisfied enough to actually pursue the path of the beam.
  • I can see why Roland let Jake help in the fight against the child-stealing robots. But I don't understand why other kids were present at the battle. I know the robots are efficient...but hide the kids anyway! It doesn't make sense.
    • The multiple kids were to prevent the robots from distinguishing that only one person was moving along the path via scent, and thus see through the ruse. It was pure bad luck that the kids were in the line of fire when the shooting started; they were supposed to be hiding off the road, but one kid broke his leg and they couldn't get him away fast enough.
    • They're not child-stealing robots as such, they're TWIN-stealing robots. Jake isn't a twin, so he's not part of their plans.
  • This has more to do with the Dark Tower comics than with the main sequence of seven books, but I'll post it here since there isn't a separate page for them. My question is, why does anyone in-universe think John Farson is some leader for democracy and liberation? The comics give literally no indication that he's ever actually implemented any of it in the areas he's taken (and it takes him years to complete the fall of Gilead and the Affiliation). Even worse, he's not shown as particularly "good" or charismatic - the guy walks around in an evil-looking red mask and black attire, for Ka's sake. Yet he's apparently popular enough in-universe to have earned the title of "the Good Man", and there seem to be a bunch of people who are totally diehard supporters of him throughout the Affiliation because of what he's supposedly trying to do.
    • The only explanation I can think of is a combination of "the grass is greener" and them not having the internet. People always tend to by swayed by a particularly charismatic man with new ideas (mind we've only ever seen him in "war mode"; maybe on other occasions to sway people he puts on a suit and tie and is all sweetness and honey). And as word travels more via messenger than wifi, perhaps words of his "goodness" have been exaggerated as word has spread.
    • Reality Is Unrealistic. Real Life is full of tyrants who have been hailed as great liberators. It doesn't seem all that unlikely that people who some alternative to the rule of the gunslingers might fool themselves into thinking Farson was it.
      • Che *ahem* Guevara.
    • His main platform was equality by overthrowing the brutal class system of the tyrannical Gunslingers. He was preaching liberty and freedom as an ends justify the means deal. Just because it's clear that Farson himself was batshit crazy, doesn't mean he wasn't charismatic.
  • The Beams created by the Great Old Ones are really weird when you think about them (even though they're supposedly technological in place of the magical beams). On the one hand, Roland describes them as being like lines of force, such as magnetism, gravity, etc. On the other hand, they seem to be almost like physical constructs that can "snap" in two like a rubber band, since the Breaker process apparently involves finding "cracks" and "crevices" in the beam, then expanding them.
    • Even funkier is that the Beams themselves, if not the Tower, appear to be sentient. But the Old Ones didn't make the Beams themselves, those had always existed, what they made were the machines at either end of every Beam that were supposed to help maintain them.
    • I think the cracks and crevices are not literal, they're just a way of describing what Breaking feels like to the psychic Breakers.
    • To be precise: the Beams and the Tower arose with the Prim. However, as the Prim receded and magic slowly went out of the world, the Great Old Ones figured out the existence and purpose of the Tower and the Beams and set about utilising them. To maintain the Beams they built their machines, and knowing the way the Beams and Tower sustained one another they tried to mimic that process by having the machines maintain the Beams and draw power from them as well. But since the Beams and Tower were creations ultimately of magic and not science, they began to degrade. Then the Crimson King's Breakers came along busting several of the Beams which added to the strain on those that remained. Since the Old Ones' technology was partially powered by and depended on the Beams, as the Beams failed, they, too, failed.
  • Roland is a descendant of Arthur Eld, that is, King Arthur. But King Arthur only had one child. So Roland's ancestor is the original Mordred! That could actually explain a few things.
    • Well, King Arthur could have other children we don't know about. Also, remember that there was said that other gunslingers, like Cuthbert and Alain from Roland's original ka-tet, also come from the Arthur of Eld bloodline (read: from Arthur's numerous concubines).
    • Somewhere, Roland is described as "long descended from the get of one of Arthur's many gillies," so yeah, a descendant of Arthur but not necessarily of Mordred.
    • Specifically said in the book Arthur had up to 40 children with various gillies. Hey may have had only one legitimate child (it's never said in this series if this is the case, tho I may be misremembering), but bastard children seem to have the same rights to lineage as legitimate ones in Roland's world (The Mayor's attempt to produce an heir with a gillie goes along with this as well).
  • The initial description of Blaine the Mono, a supersonic monorail, goes on at some length about sound of its approach. But the train is travelling at supersonic speed, so you shouldn't hear anything until it passed.
    • Sound vibrations travel faster through solid material than through gas. Even though Blaine is going faster than the air vibrations, he might still be outraced by the vibration of his track.
    • Blaine is also crazy and sadistic. Slowing down deliberately to scare people seems in-character, especially if it's followed by speeding back up so they can't tell where he is or how close by the sound.
  • Why, why in the hell did Susannah have to just throw Roland's gun away like a piece of trash?! That bugs this troper so damn much. That object has so much history and love in it, and just thrown away like some dime-store toy...
    • History, yes, but very very bloody history. And love? Have you and I been reading the same series? Roland's guns have always been portrayed as an instrument of death, whether for a righteous purpose or a wicked one, they are still objects designed to kill. And kill was what they did. Susannah throwing the gun away was symbolic of her shedding her role as a gunslinger, and by extension a tool of the White, in order to pursue a normal and happy life as a regular New York woman. Besides; it's pretty heavily implied that, like her memories of the whole journey, the gun will eventually fade from existence. It no longer serves the Beam. It has done it's part and is thus no longer needed. Just as Susannah had done her job, so had that instrument of death done.
      • It's also mentioned that the gun was already starting to crumble as it was. Susannah's decision to throw it away represents her willingness to move on and live. Something Roland was never willing to do.
      • Having just re-read the epilogue: the shells in her gun were "wets" and the barrel was plugged, and looked as though it had been for years. The final trip between worlds spoiled it as a weapon. Yet she still felt a pang of regret throwing away "such a storied weapon." She certainly did not treat it like trash, but what else was she going to do? Roland's voice itself was reminding her she needed to get rid of it before going to meet Replacement Goldfish Eddie.
    • More specifically, it's invoking the King Arthur legend, particularly given the barrels of Roland's guns are said to have been forged from Excalibur itself. Excalibur, too, was thrown away into a pool of water by Sir Bedevere, the last of Arthur's Round Table after the battle against Mordred, where it disappeared and is presumably waiting for Arthur's return someday. He, too, had some doubts about getting rid of it and had to be commanded by Arthur to do so. If you look at the imagery that King chooses for Susannah disposing of the gun, it's more or less the same.
      • From the stories I've read, Sir Bedevere actually had to be ordered to get rid of the sword several times. Arthur was very persistent with his last request.

  • How the FUCK can Randall Flagg be killed by a regular spider thing.He survived a NUKE at the end of The Stand. He's also powerful wizard and has a quasi immortality and can reincarnate.I think a thousands of years old wizard like him would be able to defend himself from weak Mordred.
    • (a) Overconfidence. (b) Saying Mordred's a "regular spider thing" is sort of like saying a tank isn't much more than some dinky sort of farm tractor. Mordred is the last of both the Prim and the Old Ones' technology merged together, he's like nothing else in the world. (c) Flagg did defend himself, or thought he did — by wearing the "Old Ones net" that was supposed to block out telepathy. Not his fault that it didn't work or that Mordred would be able to paralyse him (d) It's implied that Flagg teleported, or had a moment or two to teleport, away from the nuke in The Stand before it went off - in his case, going to another level of the Tower. Not so in this case, he'd been stopped in place and controlled by Mordred.
      • (e) He did survive, and will be back in a later work (unlikely, but still....)
      • (f) It was Flagg's Ka to be eaten by Mordred. He was destined to survive everything prior to that.

  • As I read through the Wizard and the Glass I wonder about the lack of remorse the Roland shows when recounting his story. He never really seems to acknowledge that his time spend with Susan did significant damage to the efforts of him and his friends to find what was hidden and to avoid being killed. Cuthbert and Alain call him out on it but he never really seems to be aware that had he spent less time with Susan the disaster that engulfed Mejis could have been at least lessened if not avoided. Making mistakes is understandable and clear but the fact is that Roland never seemed to be aware of his fault and no one seems to call him on it. Am I missing some thing, did I misinterpret or is it simply that no one sees it as an issue.
    • A big part of Roland's character development is him overcoming his lack of compassion and remorse(exemplified by him letting Jake fall to his death in the first book rather than saving him and risking the trail on The Man in Black going cold). Roland is also not very perceptive at times, and it is made mention many times by both enemies and allies how he seems to lack an imagination. Combine that with general teenage stupidity and lust, and it's likely that Roland couldn't see the damage until it was already too late to fix it, and by then he didn't care because there was nothing he could do to fix it. In short: A fourteen-year-old kid who is nearly robotic in his cold pragmatism screwed up because he was thinking with his meat and berries rather than his brain, and then didn't care because the aforementioned pragmatism told him that he couldn't change the past and make it right, so why worry about it when there was work to be done?
    • Also, Roland does mention that when he looked in the wizard's glass, the ball showed him all the things that he'd missed and all the places he'd screwed up. He may not show enough remorse for your taste, but he does know that he was at least partially at fault.
  • One of the issues that is brought up as a fault of Gilead by John Farson seems to be that they are a class stratified society based on the descendents of Eld and the power of individual gunslingers. Is this ever shown to be wrong, because it seems like it would suck if you were anyone but a born gunslinger. The focus on remembering the face of ones father also makes me think that they are not the most progressive society toward bastards. In short, is Roland's home time and society really that bad or do we only see part of the picture.
    • The society was not entirely just, but in a hard world shaken to its core on all levels, it might have been the best they could hope for. Farson seized on natural resentments that arose, used charisma and deception where needed, and like as not drew people in until he got them to do something that gave them no choice but to run with him. After that, well, we saw and read how he dealt with those he conquered. One can only imagine how he dealt with internal dissent. However unjust the reign of Gilead might have been, it's a fair bet those who rode for Farson and survived regretted their choices mightily. Kings are often great big bullies; but unless a reasonably fair and just democracy takes hold fast, without them, the people are imperiled by a mob of little bullies and worse.
    • I believe it is mentioned that the political functions of the gunslingers are more limited than they once were; it's possible they created a constitutional monarchy and it just wasn't enough for Farson.
    • It's mentioned in one of the forewords that "just how closely Roland's memory resembles the way that world actually was is very much open to question..." I always assumed that Roland's own memory has suffered the same decay as time and geography; in addition, he's never been very good at introspection. His memories are flavored through his own romantic core; his interpretations are iron hard pragmatism.
    • Roland is clearly a man who values (what he considers) doing the right thing, but he's also extremely obsessive and lacking in compassion. And people tend to die around him a lot, not always the people he wants to die. He would have tried to be a good king, but I can't see any realistic chance of him succeeding at that.
  • Why doesn't Roland get Patrick to draw him a new right hand?
    • As Roland even says about himself, he's not the deepest thinker nor is he that creative.
      • Roland also seems to fear or distrust magic to some extent, particularly when offered to be used for his physical benefit. This can be seen when he refused the delicious-looking rabbit that fell from The Man in Black's robes in The Gunslinger, despite taking the extra effort to roast it over an open fire for his cornered quarry, favoring the last of the jerky he had been eating the whole trip. (Roland even outright states that he is afraid of enchanted meat.) It isn't too much of a stretch to assume that Roland, practical man that he is, fears and distrusts pretty much any kind of magic to some extent(even the magic of the White, which he serves), and only fiddles with it when he thinks he absolutely has to. Seeing as how he had gotten used to shooting and doing other things one-handed by this point in the story, he probably didn't see having his hand back as a complete necessity, and so decided to just let it be rather than risking Patrick's abilities screwing up at a bad moment. He also seemed to feel mild contempt for Patrick, and only appeared to be letting the poor kid tag along because he was needed(that's the vibe I got, anyway). He might have been too proud to ask somebody he didn't like all that much to do him a favor.
  • Why is the Tower having Roland repeat his adventure again and again? Wasn't saving reality from the Crimson King once good enough? I understand it's part of King's theme with Roland to punish him for not letting go of the past, but there doesn't seem to be any kind of in-story reason behind it.
    • Saving reality from the Crimson King once wasn't good enough for Roland...
    • King is the tower for all intents and purposes, and stories have power. Trying to differentiate between in-story and meta for this series is an excercise in futility.
    • King has also stated on more than one occasion that "Hell is repetition" and it's shown in other stories besides The Dark Tower series. So, in essence, Roland's journey, beginning with the chase across the desert, is Hell.
    • Ka is a wheel, do ya not kennit?
    • He has to keep doing it until he gets it right. Perhaps every time he's been getting one step closer to completing his quest properly, which I take to be attaining the Tower without sacrificing his humanity (symbolized by the boy Jake). The very strong implication, at the end of the Coda, is that he now has the last missing element he needed to succeed and this is his last trip to the Tower.
  • Was it ever explained why Sombra Corporation can only destroy the Rose by buying out the patch of land it's on, then paving it over? Couldn't they just send out any random mook to crush the flower, or something like that? If you've got the resources of an entire corporation at your disposal, then destroying a single flower shouldn't pose a problem.
    • They are unable to approach the rose with intent to destroy. It's shown to be extremely powerful, and could defend itself easily against uninvited intruders. They are attempting to exploit a loophole essentially in that, if they legally own the property, they own the rose and the rose has no power to stop them. It's never explicitly spelled out this way, but this was the essentially presented and how I understood it.
    • The idea that magic is highly dependent on following certain rules is very common in fantasy (though there isn't a specific rule about ownership listed on that page and I'm not sure what to call it). Simply sending a mook to trespass and physically attack the Rose would be "cheating" in a sense that acquiring access to it through trickery and wealth is not. An attempt to cheat the rules of magic with a living universe that has thorns and a Compelling Voice seems likely to fail or backfire.
  • The never really explain where the doors come from on the beach. I suppose we can assume it was The Tower (or King himself providing dues ex machina), but it also could have been Flagg? Another force entirely? As it stands, its really random, and for this series, that's saying something.
    • The Concordance says that they were created by "the magical tension that existed between Roland and his nemesis Walter."
  • Where did Roland get his ammunition before his trip to New York? In Tull, he spends almost fifty shells gunning down crazed townspeople, and in the beginning of the second book it's revealed that that was almost half of what he had left. If he had no way to replenish, those shells were worth more than everything else he owned put together, and he should have just run away instead of wasting them.
    • Presumably he carried them from Gilead during the fall of the kingdom. He may have resupplied some on the way, but as rare as firearms had become (particularly handguns) his may have been the last ammunition in the world. Regardless, there's a limit to how far one can run when chased by 50 frothing mad religious cultists, and eventually he would have been forced to go back for his mount, so a confrontation was inevitable. His gunslinger instincts made him face them sooner rather than later. It's stated outright that his hands worked without his conscious command; for Roland, killing in that situation is an instinctive reaction.
  • In Wizard and Glass, how could Susan, a girl who seems to spend half her life on horseback, still have her hymen intact enough to pass a medieval virginity test? And why are the Mejis folk relying on a witch who lives miles away to perform such a test when they could easily do it themselves?
    • Considering how common horses are in the setting it seems like SOMEONE should have noticed that sort of thing can happen (although apparently people in this world today still don't all get it). Maybe that witch used another method that doesn't depend on a hymen? Such a method might require either magic or actual medical knowledge that a witch could be expected to have but most folks in Mejis wouldn't.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/TheDarkTower