TCD Question #17 - The Game

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:08 pm

Before I ask today’s question I want to send DITHOT’s apologies for not being around much the last couple of days. Not only has her job been incredibly demanding (it’s that time of year), but when she came home from work last night her internet was out, and still is, due to a power outage. She sends her best and hopes that she is back online by tonight.

Pg. 62-63. “He realized that he’d thrown the dice. That he’d moved to the first square in a dangerous game of Snakes and Ladders and that it was too late to turn back. But he felt like playing. He went down the stairs followed by the echo of his own dry laughter. Varo Borja was wrong. There were things money couldn’t buy.” And Balkan tells Corso on pg. 314 that "games are the only universally serious activity".

How does Balkan's attitude to "the game" compare with that of Corso, Varo Borja, Liana Taillefer? Does anyone win the game? Has Corso's attitude to the game changed by the end of the book? Do you think the game was worth it to him?
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Parlez » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:25 pm

Okay, I'll take a shot at this ~ not because I have any definitive answers but because I really liked this passage in the book. To me it represented Corso's Crossroads; his Waterloo if you like. He was pretty good at gamesmanship, so he had to have been conscious of the ramifications of this particular move. 'But he felt like playing.'...why? Because he had nothing to lose. It was a suicidal gesture, IMO. Ergo, the dry laughter. Once a person decides they have nothing to lose, life gets pretty comic.

What 'the game' was, precisely, I'm not sure. I had to look up Snakes and Ladders to see what that one was about and how it related to Corso's game. I thought it would be different than what it was: a game where going up or going down is determined by a simple throw of the dice. Maybe there's some karmic relevance there...?

I have no clue about the games the others were playing really...I await enlightenment from you all on that part!
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:19 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Parlez, for starting us off. I thought no one would. It's a tough question. Thus why I ask it. I don't have the answers. Is Snakes and Ladders like Shoots and Ladders? I just assumed (in fact, I probably substituted shoots for snakes in my mind). But maybe you are on to something, with a roll of the dice.
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby stroch » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:47 pm

Well, going on the general principel that anything P-R spells out is a clue, and something the reader should attend to, I found this:

Snakes and ladders originated in India as a game based on morality.[3] This game made its way to England, and was eventually introduced in the United States of America by game- pioneer Milton Bradley in 1943.[3]

The game was played widely in ancient India by the name of Moksha Patamu, the earliest known Jain version Gyanbazi dating back to 16th century. The game was called "Leela" - and reflected the Hinduism consciousness around everyday life. Impressed by the ideals behind the game, a newer version was introduced in Victorian England in 1892, possibly by John Jacques of Jacques of London.

Moksha Patamu was perhaps invented by Hindu spiritual teachers to teach children about the effects of good deeds as opposed to bad deeds. The Ladders represented virtues such as generosity, faith, humility, etc., and the Snakes represented vices such as lust, anger, murder, theft, etc. The moral of the game was that a person can attain salvation (Moksha) through performing good deeds whereas by doing evil one takes rebirth in lower forms of life (Patamu). The number of Ladders was less than the number of Snakes as a reminder that treading the path of good is very difficult compared to committing sins. Presumably the number "100" represented Moksha (Salvation).

It certainly fits.

In a larger sense, the entire road Corso is a game, and he is pushed and pulled by a gamemaster until the end, when he makes a choice to forefit.
Source: wikipedia.com
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby gemini » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:19 pm

How does Balkan's attitude to "the game" compare with that of Corso, Varo Borja, Liana Taillefer?
Balkin thinks games are a means to an end. He says "Only the person who respects the rules or at least know and applies them can win." He felt playing the roles of those of the Dumas characters and keeping his Club Dumas chapters in the family was game worthy. He assigns Liana but wanting to be more like Milady, she got a bit over zealous in the game. Victor Borja played for keeps killing Fargas and the Baroness Ungern so winning the game was everythng to him. Corso was intrigued by the game and willing to take risks.

Does anyone win the game?
Depends on how you interpret the ending. Corso had all the pieces of the puzzle at then end if he wants to use them.


Has Corso's attitude to the game changed by the end of the book? Well I always thought Corso was truly into the game but when he finally gets lethal with Rochefort knocking him down the stairs then kicking him in the head taking his knife to contiunue on, he proved how far he would go.

Do you think the game was worth it to him? No, but he evidently thought so.
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby gemini » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:45 pm

stroch wrote:Well, going on the general principel that anything P-R spells out is a clue, and something the reader should attend to, I found this:

Snakes and ladders originated in India as a game based on morality.[3] This game made its way to England, and was eventually introduced in the United States of America by game- pioneer Milton Bradley in 1943.[3]

The game was played widely in ancient India by the name of Moksha Patamu, the earliest known Jain version Gyanbazi dating back to 16th century. The game was called "Leela" - and reflected the Hinduism consciousness around everyday life. Impressed by the ideals behind the game, a newer version was introduced in Victorian England in 1892, possibly by John Jacques of Jacques of London.

Moksha Patamu was perhaps invented by Hindu spiritual teachers to teach children about the effects of good deeds as opposed to bad deeds. The Ladders represented virtues such as generosity, faith, humility, etc., and the Snakes represented vices such as lust, anger, murder, theft, etc. The moral of the game was that a person can attain salvation (Moksha) through performing good deeds whereas by doing evil one takes rebirth in lower forms of life (Patamu). The number of Ladders was less than the number of Snakes as a reminder that treading the path of good is very difficult compared to committing sins. Presumably the number "100" represented Moksha (Salvation).

It certainly fits.

In a larger sense, the entire road Corso is a game, and he is pushed and pulled by a gamemaster until the end, when he makes a choice to forefit.
Source: wikipedia.com

Stroch, I agree the description of the game does fit especially the part about it being based on morality. Good sleuthing!

I am curious about your comment about Corso, where you say he decides to forfeit in the end. Did he really? I think that is all in how you interpret the ending and it sort of leaves it up to the reader. Remember all that confusing jargon earlier on about the responsibility of the reader to interpret the story?
Just a little food for thought.
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Parlez » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:14 pm

I saw that too, stroch, about Snakes and Ladders originating in India. 'Leela', or 'lila', is the word for everyday reality, which is considered to be an illusion in Hinduism. Thus, playing a game so named, whereby moves are made up or down depending on a seemingly random throw of the dice, fits the illusion of the players having control over their fate, or karma. You go up, you go down - who decides? It doesn't really matter which way you would choose, or prefer, to go. The dice decides. In that regard, the game is quite beyond the bounds of personal volition.

How this impacts the story and Corso's decision to 'play' is kind of up for grabs.
My first impression is that he had become so corrupt, so souless, that playing with fire or with the devil or with evil incarnate was no big deal. But maybe someone else was pulling the strings (controlling the outcome) all along and Corso was really powerless to do anything other than to proceed down the path he was going down.
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby gemini » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:30 pm

Parlez wrote:How this impacts the story and Corso's decision to 'play' is kind of up for grabs.
My first impression is that he had become so corrupt, so souless, that playing with fire or with the devil or with evil incarnate was no big deal. But maybe someone else was pulling the strings (controlling the outcome) all along and Corso was really powerless to do anything other than to proceed down the path he was going down.

Your analogy sort of goes along with the girls answer when Corso says "why me?"
She says "Because lucidity never wins. And seducing an idiot has never been worth the trouble."
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:34 pm

gemini wrote:Stroch, I agree the description of the game does fit especially the part about it being based on morality. Good sleuthing!

Yes, yes! Thanks for all the background on this game, Stroch.

gemini wrote:Victor Borja played for keeps killing Fargas and the Baroness Ungern so winning the game was everythng to him.

I think to Borja it was more than a game. It was about eternal life....with the devil.

gemini wrote:I am curious about your comment about Corso, where you say he decides to forfeit in the end. Did he really? I think that is all in how you interpret the ending and it sort of leaves it up to the reader. Remember all that confusing jargon earlier on about the responsibility of the reader to interpret the story?
Just a little food for thought.

Very good food for thought. Love it! I will be mulling that over until it is time to discuss the ending.
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Parlez » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:57 pm

gemini wrote:
Parlez wrote:How this impacts the story and Corso's decision to 'play' is kind of up for grabs.
My first impression is that he had become so corrupt, so souless, that playing with fire or with the devil or with evil incarnate was no big deal. But maybe someone else was pulling the strings (controlling the outcome) all along and Corso was really powerless to do anything other than to proceed down the path he was going down.

Your analogy sort of goes along with the girls answer when Corso says "why me?"
She says "Because lucidity never wins. And seducing an idiot has never been worth the trouble."

Agreed! If I was the devil, or evil incarnate, I wouldn't find it much fun seducing an idiot either! And we all know the devil likes to play with his or her prey before going in for the kill, right?! So you'd need to find someone with sufficient cracks in their moral fiber to have entry there, but you'd want someone with enough lucidity, enough resistance, to not be a pushover, like Borja. Then you could have a jolly good time seducing that fellow via confusing the heck out of him with your off-kilter mind games and compelling demeanor and unexpected behavior, until eventually you win. Fun! :freaked:
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:55 am

Parlez wrote:
gemini wrote:
Parlez wrote:How this impacts the story and Corso's decision to 'play' is kind of up for grabs.
My first impression is that he had become so corrupt, so souless, that playing with fire or with the devil or with evil incarnate was no big deal. But maybe someone else was pulling the strings (controlling the outcome) all along and Corso was really powerless to do anything other than to proceed down the path he was going down.

Your analogy sort of goes along with the girls answer when Corso says "why me?"
She says "Because lucidity never wins. And seducing an idiot has never been worth the trouble."

Agreed! If I was the devil, or evil incarnate, I wouldn't find it much fun seducing an idiot either! And we all know the devil likes to play with his or her prey before going in for the kill, right?! So you'd need to find someone with sufficient cracks in their moral fiber to have entry there, but you'd want someone with enough lucidity, enough resistance, to not be a pushover, like Borja. Then you could have a jolly good time seducing that fellow via confusing the heck out of him with your off-kilter mind games and compelling demeanor and unexpected behavior, until eventually you win. Fun! :freaked:


:interesting: :thumbsup:
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:01 am

Great research on the snakes and ladder game. :bounce: The more we discuss, the more intricate the details seem to be. I am gaining respect for this author, even if I still find much of it convoluted and confusing.

I think game playing can be an addictive compulsive activity, like gambling. There are those who are drawn in and cannot walk away no matter the logic and there are those who sit on the outside and laugh. I think that was the difference in Corso and Boris.

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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Parlez » Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:13 pm

I agree with you nebraska, Lucas was more of an observer at the gaming table, to use that analogy, at least at first. Your comment about him watching and laughing while the other players obsessively gambled for higher and higher stakes reminds me of one of my favorite metaphysical bumper-sticker quotes:
Life is too important to be taken seriously. :hypnotic:
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:38 pm

Parlez wrote:I agree with you nebraska, Lucas was more of an observer at the gaming table, to use that analogy, at least at first. Your comment about him watching and laughing while the other players obsessively gambled for higher and higher stakes reminds me of one of my favorite metaphysical bumper-sticker quotes:
Life is too important to be taken seriously. :hypnotic:

He was an observer, but he so wanted to solve the puzzle.
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Re: TCD Question #17 - The Game

Unread postby Buster » Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:36 pm

I think Lucas was an observer until he thought he could actually solve the puzzle. He didn't really want to play until he thought he could win.

When Balkan revealed that it was a "game", Corso...
"...stood staring at me from the other end of the room, and I have to say that I found his look of disbelief highly amusing.
"Game?" he managed to say hoarsely."


Perhaps Corso discovered that in spite of thinking he has maintained perspective on the situation, he has actually become deeply embroiled in the game.

I'm eager to discuss the ending - I suspect how one interprets it will influence whether Corso is deemed to have won, lost, or forfeited.


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