Room 11

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…an airy room with many doors. It was a big space, but I still felt crowded. I’ve always hated confinement.

“Whatever you do,” I warned them, “don’t touch that!”

“This must be an important room,” said one of them. “It has more doors than any of the others…”

This was not true but I didn’t want to interrupt.

“With so many paths crossing here we must be close to the center,” she continued.

I had noticed this guest before; I would have to be careful. “This is an important choice,” I said, trying to encourage them.

Gratefully leaving the room behind we walked all the way to…

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type:  TRAP     Doors:  4  19  24  32  39  40


● The item pinning the note is a golf tee, the top of the note reads “for.” “For” plus “tee” = “forty” indicating we choose that door. The other door leads to Room 24 “The Abyss.” [Independent Credit: Anchorperson Smith | White Raven]  Also when playing golf players yell “fore” before their swing strengthening the “for” “tee” connection. [Credit Anchorperson Smith]

● In the text is the word “felt” which is an anagram for “left.” In this room as well as the other two rooms in which the word “felt” occurs (25, 34) the correct door is the the left door. [Independent Credit: Aria / Beelzebibble]

● The far right and left screws are level but the two screws facing the viewer are angled to line up with door 40. [Credit: David G / White Raven]

● The bell is a square (4) topped with a circle (0). This is emphasized by the bell being mounted with four screws and the circle of the bell being outlined by a rim. [Independent Credit: Aria / White Raven] Perhaps in support of this, the sign can be seen as a square and the head of the tee a circle. [Credit: Aria]


62 thoughts on “Room 11

  1. I think it’s true that readers are intended to identify with the group–to an extent the book explicitly invites it, by having the Guide address you directly on the back cover, and telling you in the directions that your guide awaits you. But it really doesn’t seem like there is any narrative that unifies the experiences of the reader and the characters. There’s not only the issue of there being no narrative conclusion after finding the solution, there is the fact that Room 4 must be visited twice (while obviously telling the same story), or that the text in (say) 23 suggests the group took a different path from the reader. This, on top of the fact that their narrative is part of the puzzles we must solve, suggest to me that the narrative of the group is not the narrative of the reader; in reality, there probably is no narrative that corresponds to the 16-step solution. Or a cohesive narrative regarding the group.

    • I agree for the most part, but: having events repeat is a product of it being a book. I imagine if it was a video game, the group might say “haven’t we been here before?” or something along those lines.
      For the narrative conclusion: the bell starts ringing from the first room, rings again in the first room of the chosen PATH, and stops ringing in the last room of the PATH. They can’t say “wow! you won!” in the last room because there’s no way for the book to know if we’re on track or moving in the wrong direction. I think the bell stuff was placed there to tie together the path and make a sort of micronarrative link that’s only cohesive if you took the correct path.
      The group also does acknowledge room 45 and the fact it is their goal. The group seems to loosely be the readers (from my point of view), but only a representation. I think the narrative is kept as vague identification because of the limitation of being in a book. If it was an interactive medium, there would be no need- you could be DIRECTLY in the group. But because we’re on the outside looking in, the group is probably just a reflection of us.
      There’s almost certainly no in-universe explanation for the reader. I always thought there were references to “the thoughtful one” and so on so you could say “hey, I’m that one!”
      Most of the storytelling of MAZE is implicit instead of explicit so I doubt we’ll get answers on the group, but maybe that’s the point? If the book said, “the thoughtful one is named Sandra!” that would probably take away from it.
      I agree our experiences are different, so I just see them as the closest thing we have to “being in the MAZE” while still letting us analyze them and the Guide’s interactions as part of the mystery. I think the choppy “group” narrative that just loops and doesn’t conclude is a product of that. Maybe it would be different if it was made in a different medium, but its still mostly immersive.

    • Well, there are ways around the narrative difficulties in the book, it just wasn’t designed with a continuous narrative in mind. The route didn’t have to be circular, it didn’t have to cross the same room twice, a room could use time paradoxes to describe the groups as crossing its own path (like in 10/37 but within a single room), there could be an ending that under the rules is only accessible after solving the maze, there could be coded text etc etc. It wouldn’t be hard to come up with fixes, especially given how ingenious Manson was at designing the layout, but that just wasn’t the focus. There is no narrative in which the group succeeds. There are just a lot of mostly disconnected events in various rooms, and then eternal imprisonment in 24.

    • “Faint voices came from down the hall” sounds rather reminiscent of the 37/10 connection (if that’s what you’re referencing).

    • Yes.

      You’ve given me an idea I don’t have the time or ability to lay out fully now, I’m leaving this note just to remind myself to write about this later.

    • I was almost asleep when I had my “idea,” and in the light of day I realize that it is nonsense, like trying to explain a dream, sorry about that everybody, as you were.

  2. The hand pointing to the bell is a “right” hand. The very first puzzle of the book was “all of these are left hands but the one pointing in the direction you want to go is the right hand.” The MAZE is a trial, but it is also meant to be forgiving. The Guide, in my eyes, hijacked it.
    Near the end of the trap, you’re given a bell to ring, with a RIGHT hand in the same style as the ones in the prolouge. The bell is your protector. But the guide doesn’t want you to press it.
    I think this creates a duality between the guide, and the maze. The description of the maze by White Raven seems pretty spot-on to me: the maze is a trial, but a passable one. The guide is just using it for his own selfish goals.
    I saw a comment reminding us the left hand was associated with the devil. Pressing the button is the “right” answer.
    Where did we first see these hands? On an explanation on how to navigate MAZE. I think the re-emergence of it near sudden doom is the maze’s safety net. “Uh, hey, you messed up…”

    • While I agree entirely with your idea, that pushing the button would be the right choice, you’ve got it backwards: the hand on the front page that was pointing the correct way was the left hand, and the one here is also a left hand.

  3. Can the people traversing through the maze see the numbers on the doors? How else are they expected to solve the puzzles? But, if they can see the numbers, why do they think they are close to the center? It is obvious this is a path with a lot of doors leading to it, but not many leading out (if you can see the numbers.)

    • They can see the room numbers, as implied in a few places, such as in room 13 where superstition is discussed presumably because of the room number. However, they cannot necessarily solve the puzzles, because the puzzles can rely on the narrative text.

    • Okay, so… the readers of the book = the party in the book but from a different perspective- and maybe characters are kept intentionally vague as to let the reader identify with them. Both realities kind of have to come together to navigate the maze- the readers have it presented to them from the outside and the party can observe from within.

  4. Is the Guide’s line about how he’s “always hated confinement” a reference to how he’d been forcibly confined to the Labyrinth? It would be another hint that the Guide is the Minotaur.

    • A lot of the TRAP rooms give hints to the Guide’s identity. It might be because there isn’t much noise in these more linear rooms so more time is devoted to Guide clues. Also- yeah. The dismal atmosphere of the TRAP, the themes of despair and confinement. I mean, they’re not called the TRAP rooms for nothing.


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