Room 20

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…room number 20. The ringing stopped as soon as we entered.

“What is the matter now?” I asked them.

“Too many animals for a proper house!”

They walked carefully around the edges of the room. I watched with an amusement shared, I think, by the wise old tortoise.

With backwards looks and muttered comments about turtles they left room number 20 and entered…

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


Room Type:  PATH     Doors: 1  5  27  37


● The obvious (if you have completed the rest of the circuit) correct door is 1 .

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room is the “S” from the bottom newspaper. The “S” from the top newspaper is discarded as the headline “EXTRA” suggests.   [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● The phrase “With backwards looks…” suggests the trip is complete. [Credit: mazeloverrob]

● Among the rooms of The Path there are two live animals, a rabbit and turtle. In Room 15 is a rabbit that we know is to be called a “hare” because of the H clues in the room. In this room the turtle is referred to in the text as “the wise old tortoise.” The combination suggests “the tale of the tortoise and the hare” in which the tortoise beats the hare to the finish line. Note that the hare is resting on a chair and the tortoise bears a grin. This indicates that the trip is complete. [Independent Credit: vewatkins | White Raven | unknown individual prior to 1990]

● There are several elements in this room which start with the letter “T” this is a red herring. [Independent Credit: Hello Gregor | White Raven]

● The arrow is a not very hidden 1, indicating we are to take Door 1 and also that this is the last room of the sixteen step path. [Independent Credit: David Gentile | White Raven]

● The tower in the poster on the right being struck by lightning is very reminiscent of the tower card in a tarot deck. [Independent Credit: Beelzebibble | White Raven] The number of the tower card is 16. The tower in poster has an open top and open door, the tower in the chair opposite the poster has a closed top and closed door. This room is the 16th room of the 16 step path to the center and back. If you are in this room at the end of the 16 steps, you go to door 1 indicated by the 16th tarot card and the open tower. If however you are not on the 16th step then go back to the path by going through door 5, indicated by the closed tower. [Credit: One For Me | White Raven] Also the closed tower is resting in a chair, suggesting perhaps that this is the “not leaving” choice. [Credit: V-Watt’s Electric Labyrinth Love Luau] The man with the turban may reinforce the tarot connection reminiscent of the traditional garb of tarot card readers for much of this last century.

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144 thoughts on “Room 20

  1. Room 20′s connecting word at the end is “entered” that is unique in the 45 rooms. I thin that might be a clue we should enter the “entrance way” room 1. They left room number 20 and entered…the Maze.

    • The closed door in 20 looks like it has an “=” sign. The wood panels have been mentioned as having a plus sign. More support for T-S=1, I think.

    • One tower has a white door and the other a black door. Both are checkered items. I see that as a tiny bit more support for the room solution I have here “checker flag” – a black and white one of course.

      Not trying to do a room 20 focus – just ended up here.

    • I think Greg had a good suggestion for those doors (the Tarot tower, the mark of calamity, has an open door, while the tower reclining in a chair has a closed door, suggesting the closed door here, #1, is better), and WR described this as “more rightish.” That line of that was then abandoned for four hundred centuries.

    • vw I agree about the closed/open door tower solution. This does seem really good and WR said it was “even righter” but I’m not sure what to do to make it “right.”

      Closed tower (top closed and door closed) = safe on COMFY CHAIR –> take the closed door

      Open tower (open top and open door) = struck by lightning therefore dangerous, equivalent to Tower card in Tarot which means calamity –> avoid the open doors

      Someone else has said you can also look at the real vs the image, which works elsewhere… the real tower with the closed door and top indicates 1 and the real path, while the image tower with open top and door indicates false path.


    • Maybe it’s just “higher is good, lower is bad.” The tower high on the wall is in danger, the tower low in the chair is safe. So you pick the lowest number (1).

    • The pattern on the chair sorta kinda looks like a chessboard… so the “closed” castle on the chair is still on the board… still in play (it’s even in one corner, which is where the castles/rooks start)… and the “open” castle is not.

      So take the only available closed door and you’ll still be in play. (Or in a better position, anyway.)

      (This doesn’t help much… it’s pretty obvious that the lightning-struck castle/tower/whatever is the bad one without a chessboard metaphor.)

  2. It happens about every other day that I get what I think is a pretty good idea about a room and then when I look through old posts I see that I or someone else came up with the idea months ago. I might be doing that here because I didn’t go through all the comments here, or go back and watch the MazeCast episode where I think I might have discussed this with Greg:

    Conspicuous in this room is the recurrence of the letter T, and that T is the 20th letter of the alphabet. The Ts are listed here as a red herring. But I’m wondering whether the Ts, while not really helping because they just seem to be pointing to the room we’re already in, are an indication of alphanumeric coding such that we should interpret the arrow as an A and a clue to 1. The Guide watches with amusement as they look around the room, perhaps knowing that nothing in the room is going to help them; it’s the arrow, the one object outside the room, that gives them the answer.

  3. Hi Dave: I still think Sagittarius is in this room because I am just stuck on William Tell as the Archer…but you’re right about the themes. I’m going to post my solutions to Room 8 as it is also a sky theme and then move on to another room/different theme so as not to be falsely influenced by trying to get the clues to match the theme.

  4. Look overhead, the sky, for the Archer:
    Constellation Sagittarius, The Archer, half man-half horse being The Centaur.
    The Omega nebula is a star cluster at the constellation Sagittarius-we probably do have little omegas (doubt if this term has ever been used before) around the rug edge.
    I found Constellation Leo in Room 3 so this “theme” sounds solid to me…along with the eclipse, the lunar phases, and close encounters of the third kind, we should be looking up.

    • I think Sagittarius is referenced in the tilted room 8. But I’m not seeing more than just an arrow here connected with him, (and yes a seemingly unlikely connection via the Omega nebula) so I don’t see him here yet. There is wide agreement we have little Omegas here. The last room of the path. Also for me the 24th letter and 24th “time zone” of Maze. Re: “close encounters” while on occasion pop culture references have been proposed, I don’t think we have any that are generally accepted – but I could easily be forgetting something. In any case, seems rather wide of the mark from here. Still like “Leo” though.

  5. -I am working on putting the following together: Manson states on the back cover of MAZE “half an archer’s arrow – an arrow pointing the way perhaps. I WILL not TELL (caps mine).” William Tell shot an apple off of his son’s head (legend) to save his life. Wm Tell used a “crossbow”…ammo for this bow is called a “BOLT”…we see a lightening “BOLT” knocking off the top of a tower…the top of the tower is called a “turret”. In the narrative: “a proper house” = “opera house”…The William Tell Overture”.
    -Narrative: “amusement sHARED”. “wise old TORTOISE” = confirms the FABLE word found in Room #1 and the APPLE also found in Room #1 confirms William Tell (as the confirming clues we have the right room).
    -Extra SS’s: the doily on the chair is actually an “antimacaSSar” used to pick up the hair oil of the same name used by men-it prevented stains on the chair. Wm. Tell was SwiSS.
    -The room is full of TUR, ex: TURban, TURk, TURtle, TURrets. overTURe. Full of things that go on/over your head, ex: apple, turban, turtle shell, macassar (male hair oil).
    NOTE: the doors are “swing doors” no knobs/locks…narrative: “walked carefully around the edges”…could we actually be in the Turret on the Tower of the House? And those particular patterns around the rug edges must mean something-they almost look like the Eifel “Tower” inside of one of its own arches?

    • I’ll respond to fragments with fragments. I too found “bolt” in this room as part of something larger.

      I’m not sure Manson wrote the back cover, so William Tell is probably off track. That – and it does not get us an exit, etc…

      sHAREed – I like this a lot. There is a bunny in 15, but this puts the hare right in this room.

      I think the SS serves a couple of purposes already, but I suppose a connection with antimacaSSar is not impossible.

      Generally we’ve made a lot of the fact that many things start with T – more than start with “TUR” – and we’ve found use for the “T”s. My favorite take on the “T”s is this – it is letter 21 in the alphabet. S is letter 20. If we take the extra “S” away from the “T”s the difference is “one” – the correct exit.

    • I’d wager a lot that Manson wrote the back cover. William Tell is interesting. The fact that it doesn’t immediately mean anything doesn’t really mean much; trying to draw a full-fledged room solution from every connection between items just encourages a lot of silly overreaching.

      The TURs is interesting too, though because there are so many non-TUR Ts I’m guessing that T is the thing here, not TUR. Nevertheless, a good observation.

      Walking carefully around the edges, suggesting the turrets…that’s interesting too.

    • In reply to V W – OK upon further reflection, if Mason did write that part of the back cover, then my take on it would be that Archer, Arrow, and the implied Apple from “Will Tell” reinforce the “one-ness” of the arrow, which already looks like a one. That is in is additional alpha-numeric cluing for door 1 here. So “what you said” with a small borrowing from Marianne’s find.

    • Marianne: regarding sky theme: I do now think we have a Leo and a Sagitarius (in 8) in Maze. So, yes, a bit of a theme. That is enough to prompt a search for other Zodiac signs for sure. Experience has taught some caution here, however – finding a theme in a couple of places can lead to overreaching extensions when I’ve tried to find that same theme everywhere. Sometimes he just used an idea once, twice, or a few times, but not everywhere, it seems. Still worth a look around for more Zodiac, for sure.

    • The reason I think Manson wrote it is because it seems like it would be difficult for some publishing company hack to step in and write it since it touches on so many sensitive elements–the guide’s unknown identity, the nature of the puzzles and false clues, the particular hints given. If someone else HAD written it, I think they would have had to do so after close consultation with Manson, which makes me wonder what the point would be of having someone else write it. It also seems to match the guide’s voice pretty well.

      I guess what really differentiates this from most back-of-the-book summaries (which I presume are written by publicists or editors or what have you) is that it’s not just a description of the book but a direct address from one of the (the main, in fact) characters of the book. It seems like a bad idea in a few different ways to have someone besides the author undertake that.

      That’s not to say it’s impossible; I’d just bet against it.

      On the other hand, it is a very effective teaser for the book, which may belie the involvement of an experienced publicist. I guess I sort of offhandedly discredit back-of-the-book writing as a serious, skilled endeavor, but it probably is.

    • Probably co-written is my guess. The guide’s voice does sound a bit off to me, but hard to say why.

    • Manson said he wrote the introductory pages himself but had no input into the design of the front cover. I didn’t think to ask about the authorship of the back cover, in fact I didn’t even think to add a page to this site about it. Apparently it really didn’t make much of an impression on me…oops.

      My guess is that Manson wrote a long version and the publisher substantially edited it down – I believe this is commonly how such a teaser would be produced, but MAZE is an uncommon book. It’s a good question.

  6. The Omega-ish symbol here is roughly similar to images that combine Alpha and Omega (google it if you want, but there’s not much to imagine; it’s just a capital A on top of the Omega symbol). Still pretty questionable, but it is thematically relevant to cluing Room 1 as it is both the beginning and end of the journey.

    Given that this is Room 20 and the repeated letter here is the 20th letter of the alphabet, I wonder whether the use of an arrow (an “archer’s arrow,” the Guide emphasizes on the back of the book) is an alphanumeric clue to 1 rather than (or in addition to) a clue about the physical shape of the arrow.

    • Thoughts: it could be alpha-omega, but there is no clear cross bar for the A. There are shading lines that run that direction, but none darker than the rest.

      Omega is the 24th letter, not the 20th.

      Re: Archer’s Arrow = another clue for 1. Dunno, still maybe.

    • The significance of the Omega, if it is an Omega and has any, isn’t to do with its numerical position but with it being the last letter and (importantly) a frequent metaphor for the last of something. If it’s Alpha and Omega then it’s in reference to 1 with both symbols.

  7. Oh, lets say the towers ARE ones, or that they imply captivity by their nature and thus dissuade against the doors they incline toward.

  8. Oh, Tower, 16th trump of the Major Arcana–and we already know it’s a 16-step path from the Directions. An indication of the final step?

  9. Interestingly, the arrow here is also a red herring based on the imperfect arrow in Room 1 that points to Room 20. If you followed that arrow, and came here and saw this arrow, you may think you’ve hit upon a path–NOPE. A PATH TO NOWHERE, PERHAPS.

    In Room 1 we have “too many decisions” when the group is faced with their first decision. If you came to Room 20 next, you’d then have “too many animals” when the group is faced with their first animal.






    “In a very real way we are all of us animals, at least in part.”
    –Pat Sajak

    An underexplored aspect of Maze is that I think there are a lot more misleading clues that take you to the wrong door on the path than that take you to the loop or trap. Like the “story” in the text in 1, that would be a reasonable stab at a reason for going to 20. In twenty, there’s the S below the EXTRA S that could easily be a five, and the tower pointing to 5, not too bad…well, not to belabor the point, at least not here right now, but when I look at which doors seem most plausibly clued from the path (besides the correct ones) they seem to be other rooms on the path. There really is a sort of fairness in that. Similarly, doors to the trap from the loop don’t seem to carry a lot of arguable clues in their favor, and tend to carry warnings.

    • Small comment on “too many” both here and in room one. That actually tends to make me believe a former idea of mine I did not believe much at the time. Too many = “2, many” and many can be 6. Door 26. In room 20 is would be a clue you went the wrong way in room 1.Once was an accident. Twice…maybe not. If you picked up on it in room 20 but not in room 1 it would be a false clue to 27.

    • There are false clues in MAZE but they are not just random they have an interpretive paradigm. Get the paradigm and you know what is false and what is true.

  10. This brings up the symbolism of bells more generally in Maze. There is the ringing in 1 and 26. The bell in 42, and the “please ring” in 11.At one point I had thought the bell might have to do with Jesus. I was wrong, but maybe not far off. In 43 we have “Keep believing in yourself” and we can change that to “Keep faith in yourself” with very little change in meaning. It seems appropriate walking through the “gate to hell” there, and by the devils in 26. But it is even more appropriate for 11. Here “ring bell” harkens back to the entrance. But also “faith” perhaps can help us avoid 24, and help us with persisting with the Maze. Finally, in room 20, we have a room based on a sephira on the Tree of Life. A theme here is that we are finished, we have completed the race, but also from the Towers and the sephira and the tortoise, revelation, understanding through experience, and that explains why the phone STOPS ringing here when we are on the correct path. We no longer NEED faith, because we can see the correct exit and the end of our journey in front of us.

  11. One tower inclines toward 5, the other (with its roof pulled aside) inclines toward 27. If the issue then becomes simply why we regard the towers as untrustworthy clues for those door, the disastrous nature of the Tower tarot card may be sufficient, though the tower pointing to 5 is not quite so menacing as the one inclining toward 27. (Appropriately so.)

    • The towers make use of the Ts in the room to say “follow the tower and the Ts” – but the fact that there are two clues about equally good should make us stop and look deeper, because they are probably the simple false ones for this room, once we see two of them. The right door is the one where the towers don’t point (odd one in). And the way to find that door using the Ts I believe is the T-S method, the hardest of that trio.

  12. 1) Find the narrowest general set of which the grouped tower and chair are a member. Answer: Rectangular patterned things.
    2) Find the narrowest general set of which the grouped struck tower and the arrow shaft are members. Answer: They are both described by the word bolt.
    3) Find the narrowest set of which the 3 coverings are members. Answer: Cloth or covering.
    4) Find the intersection of the set “bolt” and “cloth/covering”. Answer: Either cloth or a bolt of cloth.
    5) Find the intersection of the set #4 with “patterned things”. Answer: Pattered cloth.
    6) Find the intersection of “patterned cloth” with the other room solutions indicating “end of race/road/things”. Answer: A checkered flag.

  13. Maybe since we see one picture of a tower disaster we should think of following either tower as a disater.

  14. A room indicator may just be the arrow shaft looks a lot like a “1” and there is just the faintest hint on a hook at the top like a one would have.

    • David Gentile,

      Congratulations! Putting it on the summary!

      White Raven

  15. Small note. On the correct path there may be only two living animals pictures. But we do encounter cat in 4. Not meaningful IMO. Just a thing.

  16. Nothing to appolgize for certainly. But *sigh* I’m not putting solutions in a public forum to hear the sound of my keys click – the point is to show others there are good reasons to use that method, mostly by repeated example. My favorite may be the room 37 H2O one now, because it is a very pure application of the rules and you have no clue where you are going, you just end up with “water” by following the rules and bam there is H20 in front of you. The thing it you need your own mental pictures after the first round. YOu put dice and cone together to get “ice cream cone” but now you have to think of lots of different ice cream cones in various situations to make the next association and get “ice”. Then think of ways “ice” and “vase” go tother to get water. Anyway unless/until that happens, as you we will just do our own thing.

    • Last cleification here. “Checked” is a more general term than “checkered” everything checkered is also checked. Not everything checked is checkered. The chair and tower suggest thei general term checked. Then you combine with cloth and are supposed to come up with a a specific example of a checked cloth. And a checkered flag is a specific example of checked cloth.

  17. I’m not describing the pattern on the chair as “checkered” I’m describing it as checked, which it clearly is. “checked pattern” is the result of the chair/tower puzzle. “bolt” is the result of the “arrow/lighting” puzzle. The next puzzle is putting together “bolt” and the 3 covering surrounding the unused door to get “cloth”, as in a “bolt of cloath”. The final puzzle is putting together your previous results. “cloth” plus “checked pattern”. And a checkered flag is a cloth with a checked pattern. Confirmation is that 1) It makes perfect sense in context, and 2) we are given minor confirmatory bits like “SS’ and “turtle”. The clues are enough to limit your degrees of freedom, they can’t add up multiple ways equally well. If I wanted to write a thesis paper on it you could use Bayesian analysis to try to statistically demonstrate intent. I’m not going to, but I did do something similar once upon a time. www. (Note I’m not Christian – highly secular in fact, but I’ve spent about 20 years hanging in chat with some PhD Theology types that take apart texts for a living and most things are far easier to understand than the 3 lines of text I wrote a few pages about there, trying to demonstrate authorial intent. (needs updating, but the exact conclusion is not the point). Unfortunately there are few people in that field that understand statistics well and then few math people who know anything about secular study of biblical text so not a wide audience. The pure statistical study I have www. got a lot more use. Note: This is not “bible code” stuff. It was the result of hanging with serious academics who don’t think “magic” stuff happened 2000 years ago, and are interested in trying to tease history out of documents which are primarily essentially mythological.

    • Well, I should apologize; you’re just doing your thing here, and I’ve certainly tried to impress upon you before how pointless it is for us to discuss your method, so it’s kind of hypocritical for me to arbitrarily pick some applications of it to take issue with. I guess I started down that road because I thought you had a good thought, but the problem was that the image didn’t really fit the interpretation; but if you’re using your methods, that doesn’t really matter.

  18. First of all the method repeatedly is effective in many rooms confirming it is a method to be used. But once that point is passed – Every point in the process is supported at least 2 ways. So you never have to go out on a limb and say, well, maybe this one thing could be…you always get it 2 times different ways, and then the final result gets confirmation. Not only do we get a meaningful result, like “checkered flag” but you get intelligable relationships to other objects like SS and “turtle”. Again it can’t be a checkered flag picture there, because that is the answer to a two step puzzle and you can’t simply put the answer there or there is no puzzle.

  19. Someone with a magnifying glass – what is the pattern in the middle of the Omegas. Could it be “end of the road”?

  20. Guess for W.Raven’s last point: The T’s in the room and the 2 Towers pointing at the two wrong doors give us an “odd on in” solution for door number 1.

  21. It dose not have to be a checked flag pattern – it fact it should not be – too obvious. Just like there is no picture of a bolt of cloth. The way it works IMO, is that the items together should suggest a word or concept “checked” is suggested. Now you use that product “checked” independenly of how you got it. Just like “bolt” becomes a bolt of cloth from an crossbow bolt and a lightning bolt. You put together the first layer, and get results, and they are then raw materials to add together in the next layer. And you can tell roughly what things go together in the first layer by visual groupings. If the MAZE came with instructions like that on how to do puzzles many are fairly easy, it seems, its just that without any instructions on what to do with this stuff you wander around forever spouting random non-sense and vague generalizations. (Not you specificly, anyone in Maze).

    • Well, solutions using slippages like these are simply too easy to find in every location. If we were to suppose that Manson used something that is not checkered and not a flag in order to clue a checkered flag, based on the hope that the reader will have a habit of describing non-checkered patterns as checkered, then–no, there’s really no need to describe the consequences of that kind of deduction, is there?


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