YMMV / Railsea

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The scene where Naphi tries to follow Mocker-Jack down a sinkhole. Many people see it as simply a sign of her insanity, believing she could kill a giant mole—that is currently on fire—with a knife. However, if you think about it, it isn't entirely unlikely that the captain was knowingly trying to off herself; after all, she was pretty obviously derailed by the mutiny earlier, & now she's just watched her philosophy get murdered by something that was not her.
    • & speaking of the mutiny, was overthrowing Naphi really Mbenday's intention? It's equally possible that he only wanted her to step down temporarily, as she was very clearly mentally unstable and at risk of hurting or killing herself. If one looks closely, the violent-ish mutiny was entirely done by Vurinam or by Vurinam's suggestion, & Mbenday didn't take part. In other words, he could have simply been trying to protect Naphi only to have his words twisted & used to almost-violently overthrow her & bring her to the point of tring to kill herself. Made even worse by the fact that there's no indication in the book that Mbenday disliked Naphi at all—but after the mutiny, she has no way of knowing if he didn't mean to start it. Basically, Vurinam could have just emotionally destroyed both commending officers of the Medes in one blow by using one of them to overthrow the other & thus avoid blame himself.
      • If the above were to be true, than the character of Vurinam becomes a lot darker.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Impliedly, Sirocco near the end. Despite acting very "cool" throughout all of her screentime, after seeing how heartbroken Sham is over the fact that she had only come with him for the potential valuable salvage, she rigs a dead angel & goes after Sham & his group—though still continues to claim that it was not her idea.
    • To a more obvious extent, the captain; depite doing a fairly great job of being The Stoic throughout most of the book, in the first (failed) mutiny after the fight with the siller, she makes it very clear how hurtful the constant accusations of not having any sort of human feelings are.
    "Iíve heard of this place, as have you. & it is true that when Mr. Mbenday said the switches were misbehaving, a possibility occurred to me. So if you arraign me before your court accused of having halfheld notions, fleeting recollections, then I plead guilty. If, however, you claim I deliberately allowed my crew to steer themselves into danger, then sir how dare you?"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At one point, Caldera talks about the "trainsfolk down south" that get regularly labelled as pirates, while all they want is to protect their coasts from waste-dumping corporate trains.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Naphi saving Sham's from drowning at the end of the book parallels the death of Captain Ahab & survival of Ishmael, but inverts the final outcome: Naphi, tied up around the waist by rope & sinking into the water rescues Sham from the great beast that is The Controller, & then gets dragged by the rope back to the surface, saving both of them, not unlike how The Racheal rescued Ishmael while searching for its missing son.
  • Vague Age: Most of the characters. It gets more confusing once you realize that average lifespan could be completely different thousands of years in the future, when Railsea takes place; some of the characters whose age isn't specified could very well be several centuries old.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Naphi's character arc. Subverted in that she doesn't die, though arguably her ultimate fate is even worse.