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Literature / The Drawing of the Three

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Preceded by The Gunslinger.

The Drawing of the Three is Book II of The Dark Tower series, published in 1987. It brings the action from a post-apocalyptic other world to ours — Roland Deschain, The Gunslinger, tries to draw a ka-tet of three to join in his quest: a drug addict, Eddie Dean; a woman with a Split Personality, Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker; and a man named Jack Mort.

To see the character sheet for the whole book series, go here.

Followed by The Waste Lands.


The Drawing of the Three provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Eddie cradles Henry's severed head after the office gunfight.
  • Alien Geometries: The world has "moved on", and everything is off-kilter, including the cardinal directions. Roland walks west until he reaches the western sea, then turns right to head north, which means the sea should be at his left. However, the text says that the sea is at his right, making it seem as though Roland somehow did a 180 degree turn without realizing it. Things get even weirder in The Waste Lands.
  • Arc Villain: Jack Mort/The Pusher, initially believed to be the third of his ka-tet to be drawn into All-World, turned out to be a serial killer responsible for the death of Jake Chambers, causing Odetta Holmes' Dissociative Identity Disorder and pushing her on the train tracks, costing her both legs and putting her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
  • Asshole Victim: Jack Mort deserves what he gets. For that matter, so do Enrico Balazar and his henchmen.
  • Being Watched
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The "lobstrosities", large and dangerous crustaceans encountered by Roland on the shore of the Western Sea.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A knife-wielding man in the drug store tries to be this, but has the blade of his knife shot off first.
  • Bilingual Bonus / As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The "Italian" spoken by Balazar (which is also not even an Italian name) and his henchmen is so poorly rendered as to be nearly indecipherable.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands:
    • Roland does this to gangster Jack Andolini. The gun, however, explodes into Andolini's face. Later, he shoots a gun and a knife out of different people's hands in the same encounter.
    • He casually shoots the gun from a security guard's hand—years later the man is telling people how impossible that was, while Roland regards it as routine.
  • Bond One-Liner: Roland gives Carl Delevan, an irresponsible police officer, one after knocking him unconscious:
    Roland: You're a dangerous fool who should be sent west. You have forgotten the face of your father.
  • Brick Joke: We first see a cop mocking Roland (in Jack Mort's body) about buying lavender handcuffs at a gun store. It's later explained that the handcuffs are primarily purchased by homosexuals practicing S&M.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Signet mass market cover makes it look as though the three doors that connect Roland's world to Earth are all right next to each other in the middle of an overgrown field, which certainly would have made things easier for Roland since he wouldn't have to trek across miles of lobstrosity-infested beach.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Mostly by Eddie — jarring after the first book's use of Precision F-Strike.
  • Debut Queue
  • Decapitation Presentation: During the gunfight, one of Balazar's men throws Henry's head into the room to distract Eddie.
  • Demonic Possession: What Eddie thinks is happening to him at first, a tleast before Roland sets him straight.
  • Driven to Suicide: Narrowly subverted with Eddie following his final jaunt back into Mid-World. After Roland inquires as to why he stopped, Eddie initially tries to deflect with a joke before revealing to Roland that he couldn't let him die.
  • The '80s: Eddie is pulled from the '80s by Roland.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Jane, the airline stewardess, initially thinks Eddie is a terrorist, because his eyes changed color (supposedly from colored contacts), she's not sure if "thankee-sai" is foreign, and he's acting strangely. It's actually Roland drawing Eddie (and the last is Eddie being confused at the sudden blank-outs he's having).
    • Eddie himself initially thinks he's either blacking out from the heroin he took or being possessed.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Of an unconventional sort. After Odetta and Detta both manifest, the former embraces the latter, which causes them to merge: the new woman, Susannah, shows no signs of severe schizophrenia.
  • Extreme Mle Revenge: After killing the lobstrosity that eats his fingers, Roland spends several minutes stomping the shit out of it in rage. Then he sees his severed fingers in the wreckage and vomits.
  • Face of a Thug: Jack Andolini, who Eddie and Henry refer to as "old double-ugly", but never within his hearing. That said, Jack was in no way "old double-stupid"; he's Enrico Balazar's right hand man for a reason.
  • Fake Memories: The reason Odetta Holmes and Detta Walker are unaware of each other is because each personality makes up fake memories to fill in the blanks from when the other is in control.
  • Fall of the House of Cards: Balazar's carefully constructed house of cards collapses without him noticing when Eddie begins talking about Henry. One of Balazar's men notes that Balazar liked to create houses of cards, which often fell down for various reasons, but the one time Balazar ever became annoyed at one falling was when someone knocked it down deliberately (indeed, he immediately pulled a pistol out of his desk and shot the offending man).
  • Fat Bastard: Balazar, the crime lord. Doesn't help his case that he indulges in child pornography.
  • Fingore: A lobster-like creature bites off most of Roland's right index and middle fingers at the beginning.
  • Flush the Evidence: The flight crew thinks Eddie Dean is flushing evidence of his drug-smuggling down the airplane toilet. The navigator notes that just because the evidence is flushed doesn't mean it's not there, and that the DEA can drain the holding tank and draw a sample to recoup some of the evidence.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: We're repeatedly told that Jack Mort wears gold-rimmed glasses.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Eddie's naked gun skills earn Roland's praise, as he notes that most people would have a hard time fighting naked.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Eddie involuntarily ceases to be a heroin addict when he's drawn into Roland's world, because there's no heroin there.
  • Grand Theft Me: The man in black's voice suggests that Roland do this while he's drawing Eddie. Roland refuses, both because he knows it would be a horrible thing to do and because he wants to remain himself on his quest for the Tower. He has no such compunctions about taking control of Jack Mort this way, though, because Mort is a serial killer and generally such a horrible person he deserves it.
  • The Gunslinger: Roland, of course. He refers to Delevan and O'Mearah as gunslingers, "men who had tried to help a stranger in trouble", and is disgusted for this reason when the former shoots a shotgun into a pharmacy.
    • It's implied that some people in Mid-World have the potential to be actual Roland-level gunslingers. Staunton feels "a cloak of emotionless coldness" that Roland would have recognized drop over him before he shoots Roland-as-Mort, and Roland calls him and his partner "[b]etter than the others".
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • Dario, one of Balazar's henchmen, gets bisected by friendly fire when his coworker Tricks sweeps a room with his M16.
    • Roland drops Jack Mort under the same train that'd severed Odetta's legs. He gets run over the same as his victim, but several fatal inches higher up.
  • Handicapped Badass
    • Detta Walker, and, at the end, Susannah.
    • From this book on, Roland himself, as he loses two of his fingers.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Odetta objects to being referred as "black," because in her time, the neutral word was "Negro," and "black" was offensive. Eddie points out that in his time, saying that to a black person was almost as bad as saying the n-word. Later, she asks what "gays" are, and he tries to explain before giving up.
  • Heroic BSoD: After taking his first sip of cola, Roland is so overwhelmed by the flavor (specifically, the sweetness, as sugar was a rarity even before the world started to fade) that it clears all thoughts from his mind for a moment. He's quickly brought back to reality when he nearly chokes on an ice cube.
  • Hidden Depths: Roland realizes that Eddie could be more than a burn-out if given the opportunity.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: When Roland is recovering from his illness and Eddie has to take care of him, Eddie keeps feeding Roland pieces of meat. At first Roland loves the taste... until Eddie accidentally lets it slip that the meat comes from the lobstrosities. Roland quickly gets over his revulsion though.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Tricks Postino's approach to a gunfight is to pay more attention to the action movie script in his mind than what's actually happening in front of him, so he just empties his M16 on full auto and fails to hit anyone except his own coworker Dario.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Roland gets this when his finger-stumps get infected. Subverted — Eddie hears his rattling cough and thinks he's on death's door. Roland catches Eddie's look and starts laughing, assuring him he's not done yet. He eventually gets better when he gets some antibiotics.
  • Jive Turkey: Detta's language, which is frequently called a phony mockery of African-American speech by Eddie.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Subverted. In the office gunfight, the recoil from firing one of Roland's guns pushes Eddie's arm back, and in the description of why shooting an automatic machine gun is unwise it's noted that the force of the weapon firing moves the muzzle and the shooter.
  • The Lonely Door: This novel is basically Roland and his new ka-tet slowly visiting a multitude of trans-dimensional doors across a very lengthy stretch of beach. Doors standing alone on the sand, with hinges attached to nothing, that still swing open when their knobs are turned.
  • Love at First Sight: Eddie almost immediately falls in love with Odetta shortly after meeting her.
  • The Mafia: Balazar is a big crime boss in New York. When Roland "draws" Eddie, Balazar is using Eddie's heroin addiction to manipulate him into smuggling cocaine.
  • Malaproper: Roland can't pronounce words like "aspirin" or "Keflex" correctly.
  • Meaningful Name: Jack Mort, a Serial Killer.
  • More Dakka: Deconstructed all to hell when Balazar's Mook tries to kill Eddie with a machine gun, whereupon King explains the real-life reasons why shooting automatic weapons at a specific target is ineffective — and why they tell you to fire a fully-automatic machine gun in short, controlled bursts.
  • Mundane Luxury: Sugar and paper are both very rare commodities in Roland's world, but in America they're common. He's also amazed by standard medicines like aspirin and keflex. The fact that you can walk into a shop and buy 150 rounds of ammunition pretty much blows his mind:
    One hundred and fifty rounds! Ye gods! What a mad storehouse of riches this world was!
    • The pharmacist Roland-as-Mort holds up at gunpoint is first terrified by the blindingly fast, unerringly accurate gunslinger with death in his eyes...then utterly flabbergasted when that man demands keflex, an utterly unremarkable antibiotic readily available in just about any drug store in the country. He's so confused that he responds as if Roland-as-Mort had asked for cocaine instead.
  • One Degree of Separation: Jack Mort is the guy who dropped the brick on Detta's head. And pushed her in front of a train. And pushed Jake in front of the car that killed him. Very pushy, our Jack.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Roland is this through the drawing.
    • Eddie's smuggling cocaine for Balazar is interrupted by a stewardess noticing it... who was only prompted by a second stewardess, who noticed Roland-in-Eddie's strange behavior. She alerts the authorities and gets him detained by Customs. However, Customs' (and later Balazar's) attempts to obtain said cocaine are stymied by Roland ripping the bags off at the beach.
    • Suffice it to say, Enrico Balazar was probably NOT expecting a half-dead yet lethal gunslinger from another world to emerge from his private bathroom and give him trouble.
  • Pocket Protector: A lighter saves Jack Mort when a pursuing cop shoots at him. Unfortunately for him, the fluid then catches fire. It's downplayed, as the lighter itself shatters into shrapnel and cuts Mort.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • After getting duped by Roland and suffering nasty concussions, Officers Delevan and O'Mearah wake up and then proceed to speed to the drug store Roland is robbing... only for Delevan to start shooting it up with a shotgun regardless of whether civilians are still inside. O'Mearah is horrified, and after knocking both unconscious Roland tells the former that he's a "dangerous fool".
    • Later subverted with the pair of beat cops who calmly corner Roland in the subway while ensuring that bystanders are out of the line of fire. One of them, Andy Staunton, is described as "a hell of a shot" by Roland for taking what would have (if not for Mort's lighter) been a kill shot, who tells them both that they're "good. Better than the others."
  • Poor Communication Kills: Narrowly avoided. Eddie has some trouble parsing Roland's antiquated manner of speech and strange way of referring to things at first, but he understands enough to get the gist of things.
  • Rasputinian Death: Jack Mort. In the following order, he is: Shot. Set on fire. Thrown onto electrified train tracks. And bisected by a passing train.
  • Red Herring: The title. The third to be "drawn" is not Jack Mort, but the split Detta/Odetta personality. Or Jake Chambers in the following book.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: A brief line at the beginning reveals that Roland is in fact not the last Gunslinger alive, but prior to the Battle of Jericho Hill, various others "simply recanted the whole idea of the Tower" and abandoned Roland's group.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Roland is able to save Jake from both deaths in the first book by stopping Mort from pushing him into traffic.
  • Serial Killer: Jack Mort. His method is to Make It Look Like an Accident; he throws bricks at people from old buildings or pushes them into the traffic. Since he plans his acts meticulously, he always gets away with it. Mort is also a successful accountant who wants to get ahead in his field; killing people is just his hobby.
  • Shout-Out: Eddie name-checks The Exorcist in the airplane bathroom when briefly wondering if he's been possessed.
  • Situational Hand Switch: Due to an unfortunate encounter with "lobstrosities", Roland Deschain loses three fingers of his right hand. From that point forward he's strictly a left-handed shooter. The remaining members of his ka-tet inherit the use of his right-hand gun.
  • The '60s: Odetta is from 1964. Probably. Maybe. (See "Writers Cannot Do Math," below)
  • Short-Range Shotgun: A truly horrendous example pops up during the shootout in Balazar's office. One of the crime boss' mooks fires a shotgun at Eddie, and not only is the length of an office enough for the spread to be ineffective, but those pellets that do hit him merely sting. That's right, someone just on the other side of the room shoots Eddie in the chest with a shotgun, and it just stings a bit.
  • Split Personality: Odetta has Detta Walker, created when Jack Mort dropped a brick on her head from several stories up.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Happens at the end of the novel with Odetta and Detta, creating Susannah; interestingly for the trope, all three still exist contiguously to some degree.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Roland and Eddie do not get along well once they're both on the beach: Eddie keeps Roland alive until they find out the second door leads to New York, at which point he pulls one of Roland's guns on him and demands they both go so Eddie can get a fix. Roland goes through, and Eddie almost cuts his unconscious body's throat before he comes back. Detta ties Eddie up and leaves him for the lobstrosities, and Roland barely saves him from being eaten or strangling to death from the rope.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After encountering and knocking out two policemen in 1977 New York (while in Jack Mort's body), Roland takes their guns, planning to give one to Eddie and one to Odetta. Somewhere along the line, he evidently forgets about this plan, although he wears the guns up to the time he returns through the door to his own world.
    • One of the mob henchmen guarding Eddie's brother only appears to be knocked out, yet the end of the scene implies that they've killed all of them.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The dating of the segments with Odetta and Jack Mort is inconsistent. First, Odetta thinks that it's been three months since the assassination of JFK; that means it's February 1964. Not much later, it's stated that August 19, 1959 (when she lost her legs) was five and a half years before; that means it's February 1965. Also, after the time travel to the 1970s, it's first stated that Roland entered to Mort's head at most a few weeks before he would've killed Jake; that means it's 1977. Later, it's said that a character saw The Terminator nine years later; that means it's 1975. Later, it's stated that Odetta lost her legs three years ago; that means it's 1962.
  • Your Answer For Everything: While Henry is being held hostage, the mobsters holding him drag him into a game of Trivial Pursuit. He gives Johnny Cash as the answer to every question, explaining that "Johnny Cash is everything." Eventually the gangsters give a question deliberately evoking Johnny Cash, only for Henry to reply "Walter Brennan."

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