TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:52 am

pg. 362: The last line of the story, “And everyone gets the devil he deserves.”

Do you agree or disagree? What does this mean for the ending of the story?
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Parlez » Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:03 am

I agree ~ we all must live with the demons we create in our heads.
As far as endings go, this one is pretty disappointing in my book. It's just too pat, too ordinary, too easy. To end the story with a bumper-sticker line like that, particularly coming from a guy who's supposed to have gone through the gates of hell itself and come out the other side, seems unusually plebian. Is that all Corso learned from his encounter with Satan? :-/
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:53 am

The thought crossed my mind that maybe we aren't supposed to know Corso's fate and he will get what he deserves based on what he has already experienced in his life? Whatever that may be? :-?
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Endora » Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:12 am

Like you say, it's a bit of a cliche, isn't it. But who is to say what each one deserves? It depends on your internal moral compass. The girl's, for examle, would be different from Corso's, and both would be different from Nikon.

However, the thing about Corso was that he was vain. He put great store in his cleverness. So maybe it's fitting that the devil he finds reflects this sly cleverness, in that the game that has been played out makes the whole intertextual thing a nonsense. We're all so fond of games being played according to rules that any other ending seems unsatisfactory. That, I think, is why we find the ending to this book so mystifying. Our sense of logic says there has to be a point, a solution. Well sometimes there just isn't. People don't always get what they earn or deserve. That's how life is. Whether stories should be like that, well that's up to us all as individuals, but note how children's stories always have clear unambiguous endings (...and they lived happily ever after.) Stories that interest adults have to reflect the real world more truely.

Rambling, sorry. But that's because this discussion has been so provoking, so thanks to all.
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:14 pm

I think that is good theology as I remember it from my childhood......that hell will not necessarily be the same for everyone. It makes some sort of sense to me. Take music, for instance; one kind of music would be pleasurable for one person to listen to for eternity but would be pure torture for another one. Getting the devil you deserve seems logical which is almost scary after the rest of our discussions.

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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Liz » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:53 pm

Endora wrote:Like you say, it's a bit of a cliche, isn't it. But who is to say what each one deserves? It depends on your internal moral compass. The girl's, for examle, would be different from Corso's, and both would be different from Nikon.

However, the thing about Corso was that he was vain. He put great store in his cleverness. So maybe it's fitting that the devil he finds reflects this sly cleverness, in that the game that has been played out makes the whole intertextual thing a nonsense. We're all so fond of games being played according to rules that any other ending seems unsatisfactory. That, I think, is why we find the ending to this book so mystifying. Our sense of logic says there has to be a point, a solution. Well sometimes there just isn't. People don't always get what they earn or deserve. That's how life is. Whether stories should be like that, well that's up to us all as individuals, but note how children's stories always have clear unambiguous endings (...and they lived happily ever after.) Stories that interest adults have to reflect the real world more truely.

Rambling, sorry. But that's because this discussion has been so provoking, so thanks to all.

Endora, I think we like the endings of books to be clear-cut because life is not that way. And when we read, we read to be taken away somewhere that is not our life.

He mentioned a couple of pages earlier in the book that he thought that this might be his penance. And I felt like he knew he had sinned in many ways. So he merely resigned himself to it. But I also think that he was beaten down and exhausted at that point and had no energy for resistance.
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby gemini » Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:05 pm

“And everyone gets the devil he deserves.”
I thought Corso was thinking of Borjas death and thought he truly got the devil he deserved. Also considering Corso's wit he probably was thinking that his devil was coming.

Endora said
Our sense of logic says there has to be a point, a solution. Well sometimes there just isn't. People don't always get what they earn or deserve. That's how life is. Whether stories should be like that, well that's up to us all as individuals, but note how children's stories always have clear unambiguous endings (...and they lived happily ever after.) Stories that interest adults have to reflect the real world more truely.
Rambling, sorry. But that's because this discussion has been so provoking, so thanks to all.


I thought that was a pretty smart ramble Endora. Especially the part about people don't always get what they earn or deserve. I thought Fargas was a good person who loved books more than his life and didn't deserve his ending. Some people should never have to meet the devil.
I agreed with Corso that Vara Borja got the devil he deserved.
Now here is the part where I find myself wondering.
I do believe Corso was considering selling his soul to the devil or signing the pact so to speak. It is for us to decide in the book whether he does, but he does in the film. My problem is that I really don't think he lead such a bad life even though he is seduced to the dark side, I feel sorry for him. Somewhere he lost faith in himself and thought he wasted his life so why not?
Now this make me think Perez Reverte may have been pointing out that the choice you make can follow a very fine line and he wanted us to give it some serious thought.. Evil is not so cut and dried. I didn't think Corso was evil, only seduced.
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Parlez » Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:51 pm

Well, here we get back to the question: is Corso evil? (see the thread entitled, 'Has Johnny ever played an evil character' for various opinions on Corso specifically) I think not. He's one confused puppy at the end, whose intellect has totally failed him, leaving him vulnerable to the demons that may have been lurking in there all along (namely doubt), which he'd been trying to avoid or cover up with all his mental daring-do. But that does not a evil person make. Rather, I think he succumbed to the inevitable. There were forces at work that he was powerless to defend himself against...either due to the devil's work of due to the fact that he was cracking up. Maybe those two are one and the same. In any case, nothing made sense to him in the old way, so he opted to just go with the flow, connecting the dots in a new way, and find out where that would take him.

Btw, nebraska, your comment about musical taste reminded me that just recently in the news a young American musical group is reportedly suing the Pentagon for allegedly playing their music whilst torturing the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:15 pm

“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.”

I thought of this quote from one of our previous questions. Maybe Corso just had to see this game to the end. He was a man who was intrigued by the thrill of the chase and getting what he wanted in the end. Perhaps he had to see if The Nine Doors was really the way to summon the Devil and felt he had nothing to lose by finding out.
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Wow! What a ride!

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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Kittycat88 » Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:28 pm

I could kick myself, I read the book hastily, so I have hesitated to dive into any discussions. But I don't think that Lucas Corso went to the devil.

I think he was a man absorbed by books and manuscripts, the stories and histories behind them and he followed it up. He played along, because of his intense intellectual and professional curiousity. But I never thought for one minute he actually believed in the devil. I think to solve the puzzle he had to think and respond occasionally like the people that believed in the devil, but that's a different thing. But again, my comments are only based on a quick read. And...I am a skeptic.

I don't believe in evil as an entity or personalized in a demon. There is only what I would cringingly call "evil behaviour." I don't think Dean or Lucas seem like men who believed in evil.

I never believed the ending in the movie...to me it made no sense...but thats a whole other discussion. I thought the book left a lot more room to believe Lucas got away without any devil on him....or in him.
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Parlez » Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:49 pm

Ah, so you're saying, Kittycat, that Corso played the game (here having the meaning of finding out if the books actually summoned the devil), yet remained intellectually and emotionally unscathed by the whole affair? Are you saying he was his own man from the get-go who pursued his goal of finding the answer to his question without ever buying into the whole devil concept??
I like it! It works for me! Much more better than all that spooky crazy/possessed/obsessed/seduced stuff! I think such a sensible take on the topic could only come from having read this book lightly, and just once! :cool:
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Kittycat88 » Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:01 pm

Yes, but I am sure my opinion is influenced by my strong personal beliefs, but Corso certainly seems as skeptical as me...and I would still love to follow the clues and play along. Isn't that what the author has been doing all along...playing with the readers?? So many devices and esoteric references...everything only seeming to be what it is...until we are dizzy like the mirror scene in Lady from Shanghai...it seemed a little like that to me.

I am planning on re-reading the book beginning tonight, but never will get done in time for most of the questions...but I have followed the discussion along with great interest. Glad it will be accessible after I have had a quiet slow re-read.
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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:15 pm

Kittycat88 wrote:Yes, but I am sure my opinion is influenced by my strong personal beliefs, but Corso certainly seems as skeptical as me...and I would still love to follow the clues and play along. Isn't that what the author has been doing all along...playing with the readers?? So many devices and esoteric references...everything only seeming to be what it is...until we are dizzy like the mirror scene in Lady from Shanghai...it seemed a little like that to me.

I am planning on re-reading the book beginning tonight, but never will get done in time for most of the questions...but I have followed the discussion along with great interest. Glad it will be accessible after I have had a quiet slow re-read.


And this fits quite nicely with my theory that the author created a puzzle with multiple solutions based on each reader's own beliefs and methods of solving it. The more I think about this, the more I think it would take an incredibly gifted author to weave a complex tale with an ending that is individual to each reader's understanding.

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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:12 am

nebraska wrote:
Kittycat88 wrote:Yes, but I am sure my opinion is influenced by my strong personal beliefs, but Corso certainly seems as skeptical as me...and I would still love to follow the clues and play along. Isn't that what the author has been doing all along...playing with the readers?? So many devices and esoteric references...everything only seeming to be what it is...until we are dizzy like the mirror scene in Lady from Shanghai...it seemed a little like that to me.

I am planning on re-reading the book beginning tonight, but never will get done in time for most of the questions...but I have followed the discussion along with great interest. Glad it will be accessible after I have had a quiet slow re-read.


And this fits quite nicely with my theory that the author created a puzzle with multiple solutions based on each reader's own beliefs and methods of solving it. The more I think about this, the more I think it would take an incredibly gifted author to weave a complex tale with an ending that is individual to each reader's understanding.

I won't dispute that he is gifted. The more we discuss this book, the more in awe I am of the tale he has woven.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: TCD Question #23 ~ The Devil You Deserve

Unread postby Endora » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:30 am

You may be right, Liz. Maybe, on closer inspection, it is a better book than it first appears.

Reading throught the above, what Parlez said here (my highlights):

Well, here we get back to the question: is Corso evil? ... He's one confused puppy at the end, whose intellect has totally failed him, leaving him vulnerable to the demons that may have been lurking in there all along (namely doubt), which he'd been trying to avoid or cover up with all his mental daring-do. But that does not a evil person make. Rather, I think he succumbed to the inevitable. There were forces at work that he was powerless to defend himself against...either due to the devil's work of due to the fact that he was cracking up. Maybe those two are one and the same.In any case, nothing made sense to him in the old way, so he opted to just go with the flow, connecting the dots in a new way, and find out where that would take him.


I'm not sure I'd say his intellect failed him, rather that the goalposts wre shifted and the normal intellectual rules ceased to apply. It's as if the devil he got was an anarchist devil, who just did as he/she wanted and said :censored: the rules. This, and one more important issue may have made him go off to find the devil. That issue is Nikon. He never really moved on, or learned how he got it wrong, did he. Emotionally, he was lost...not a good place for a 45 year old solitary workaholic/alcoholic to be. So, vulnerable? Certainly.
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