Room 4

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…the great hall of many doors.

“What a foolish face,” I snorted. “Pay no attention.”

A sound made them all turn suddenly. A small black cat ran out of a door to my right, sniffed at us, and, before I could move, ran out of the hall. It was fortunate that I was still standing with the rest of them or they might have noticed.

Faint voices came down one of the corridors.

“Shall we toss a coin?” I asked. “Or have you made up your minds?”

They hadn’t made up their minds, and they had no coins. By a process of elimination they decided to go to…

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


Room Type: PATH   Doors: 11  15  16  24  29  39  42  43  44


● The correct doors are 29 (on the way in) and 15 (on the way out). [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]

● The parts of the Riddle of the Path in this room are “IT” (picked up on the way in) as illustrated by the candle and the hammer and the “L” (picked up on the way out) hidden in the maze image as “ELL.” [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● Several words ending in “IT” are indicated in this room – to help identify the candle and hammer “IT.” The suggested words are “sit” (the chair), “hit” (the hammer and nails), “fit” (the pegs and holes), “unlit” (the candle). [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● There are ten hands holding lights but only the two at the far end are lit (the light in this room comes from these two lights, not the sun symbol). The statement in the text “A small black cat ran out of a door to my right” points to the right lit hand from the vantage point of the sun symbol. Both doors to the sun’s right hand are correct [Credit: Hello Gregor]

● Also the 2 of 10 lit up lights reinforce the “two” theme in other riddles below. [Credit: White Raven]

● The ax is positioned to cover the correct two doors. [Independent Credit: SP | White Raven]

● The action verbs are either “yet to be done” or “has been done and should be done again” The “has been done and should be done again” group points to the correct doors. The hammer has been used to hit the nails but they are not all the way in, inviting that they be hit again – there are two nails, indicating that we do it twice, thus two doors – the hammer head points to the correct two doors. The ax has been used to split the wood but the one log is in not yet split, inviting us to complete the splitting. [Independent Credit: SP | White Raven]

● Each log is split into two, a suggestion that we must use two doors (not just one like usual). [Credit: White Raven]

● The head of the ax covers one door the handle “tail” of the ax the other door. The statement in the text about tossing coins points to this heads or tails choice of the ax. [Independent Credit: Hello Gregor | White Raven]

● The connection between the hammer and ax is reinforced in Room 39 by the chopping/hammering noise. [Credit: vewatkin]

● The peg and slot poster essentially says “in” “in” since both pegs are to be inserted in the slots and also ”in” “out” given its location on the left side of the room. The former reinforces the two door solution, the latter gives us the order. The top peg and slot on the poster represents Door 29 directly behind the poster, the lower peg and slot represents Door 15 behind Door 29. The order on the poster (29 above 15) indicates the order the door are to be taken. [Independent Credit: David G | White Raven]

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177 thoughts on “Room 4

  1. I tried to find the Mazecast episode that discussed exactly this oddity in the text, but I didn’t find it. It was just the usual self-punishment of listening to Mazecast.

    We did discuss this at length at some point, with our usually excessive level of credulity. We theorized bilocation as an explanation, and/or warped temporal progression between rooms. (That is, still standing with “the rest of them” referred to the same group in an adjoining room, a la the 10/37 time loop.)

    • Too late. Time to listen to full Mazecast episodes again…
      There really is a charm to the grainy, laggy videotelephony. I feel like that will be looked back at as a nostalgic when we have hologram calls in 10 years, or something.
      Also, I think I found it. It’s around 25:00 of the Room 4 episode. Good memory!

    • I incorrectly posted this in its own thread instead of as a reply, so now future generations will have no idea what we’re talking about. Sorry, future generations! Also, sorry for all the other ridiculousness nonsense across the years, please don’t believe any of us about anything.

    • Except for when we were obviously and unanimously correct, of course!

  2. The group chooses their door by a process of elimination, but they didn’t see the cat. That suggests their process of elimination is independent of the cat.

    Crossing paths with a black cat is a a traditional sign of bad luck, and to the extent that we can determine anything about the cat’s path, it seems more likely that the guide was concerned the group would be warned by the cat than that they would follow the cat.

    To take that further, and combine it with spatial reasoning about the room: If the guide is looking at the face, and a black cat comes from his right, that suggests it came from the right side of the page. And that’s where the doorway to 24 is, which is the most likely reason for this room to merit a warning.

    • Note that the guide specifies that the cat ran out of “a door to my right.” Every door on the right-hand side of the page – including the center door – is incorrect (whether you are coming or going), and all but one of them lead to the trap. While the door directly to 24 is the most obviously dangerous choice, this room has the most doors to the trap out of all the rooms in the maze.

      Conversely, all the doors on the left-hand side are “safe”; two of them are correct depending on where you are trying to go, and the remaining one at least leads to the loop and not the trap.

    • Why would you include the center door with with doors to the right?

      (TEEEEEEEEEEchnically, there are rooms in the trap that have as many doors to the trap as this room.)

    • I think the cat acting as a warning about 24 is the most straightforward interpretation of that bit, and probably what it is intended to mean. However rereading it, it’s kind of a…weird order of events?

      1: Guide is facing sun. We don’t know where guests are facing, but they’re probably with the guide.

      2: They hear the cat emerging from a door… maybe. They aren’t facing it, so they turn to do so.

      3: Cat comes from right side of room and sniffs at them. Then it runs off somewhere. This all happens rather quickly, but it’s important that they turned BEFORE the cat ran out of the door.

      4: Guests somehow didn’t notice the cat? Guide attributes this to the fact that… he was standing with them??

      “It was fortunate that I was still standing with the rest of them or they might have noticed.” Look, I know I’m overanalyzing this and the implication is definitely that the guests weren’t able to catch the cat in time but this makes NO sense. Did his body block their line of sight? The phrasing of “the rest of them” implies inclusivity, so the guide is with the whole group, but despite their all focusing on the noise and location, none of them saw the cat sniffing at them and then running out? Manson didn’t have to include that the group heard the cat.

      So building off of this tiny suspension of disbelief that you almost definitely aren’t supposed to think about…
      What if the thing they heard wasn’t the cat, and they turned in the opposite direction? If more time stuff is going on in this room (faint voices), maybe one of ones 4 links has something loud in it or something. Or it has to do with hammering or chopping?

      It’s also possible that it’s not the cat that they didn’t notice, but something related to its crossing. I don’t know. I know that the book is telling us they didn’t spot the black cat but IT’S MY FIRST TIME REREADING THAT PART AND FEELING JUST SO ODD ABOUT IT. I may be crazy.

    • OHHHHH. I thought you were making a weird joke and was unsure how to respond for a long time, but now I see what you’re talking about. “The rest of them” suggests the other members of a group. Who is the first “member” he’s talking about? Himself? Or the cat?

      I think the biggest takeaway here is that the guests are all cats. That way the inclusivity makes sense! And the book never gives you any real visual info about them. It’s perfect!

    • So, it looks like the noise they hear is the thump/footsteps/door slam described in Room 15. They turn toward the noise, and don’t see the cat emerge from 24–that’s my speculation.

      “Faint voices” are perhaps the sound of the Guide’s loud talking and “commotion” as he leaves Room 39, although this room says “voices” and only the Guide’s voice is implicated in 39. It’s also not clear that “commotion” refers to vocal noise. There are several adjoining rooms that have multiple speakers–but that seems to reinforce that the reason why we hear *these* voices is that they’re louder than normal.

  3. My theory is that this whole thing is an interesting spatial deduction problem with the cat. I believe the cat’s path partitions the room; any path between the visitors and a door which a black cat crossed would indicate bad luck if they noticed, and thus an incorrect door (The fact that the last words are “by process of elimination…” is a clear hint that we’re supposed to view this as a deduction problem, as well as our malicious guide’s relief that the guests didn’t notice the cat’s path)

    From the prose, we can take inventory of what we know and use deduction to determine the cat’s path:
    1. The guide and visitors initially face forward, since he’s indicating the foolish face to them
    2. The visitors (but not necessarily the guide) turn in some direction (left or right, but not forwards since they were already facing that direction)
    3. The cat comes from a door to the guide’s right
    4. There are two remaining doors which the visitors choose between (indicated by the coin flip, and the sentiment that there was a process of elimination).
    4a. Because the guide clearly wants to conceal the cat’s trajectory from them, we can assume it’s path eliminates all but two doors.
    5. The cat moves towards the group, and (without him moving) the guide’s presence prevents the rest from noticing (indicating that he stands between the cat and visitors.)

    Additionally, I’d add some (I think very reasonable) assumptions:
    1. The far, non-numbered doors aren’t being considered
    2. We aren’t considering any doors not shown in frame (i.e. behind the camera )
    3. The visitors would’ve noticed the cat entering through a door next to the one they turned towards (unless the guide was in their way)

    - We can eliminate all the doors on the right quickly.
    -If the guide was facing right, he cannot stand towards the back of the room or there would be no doors to his right.
    -If standing towards door 11, while the cat comes into door 43, the visitors would see the cat enter
    - Door 11 doesn’t make sense, because the guests would not be facing it if they turned from their initial position
    - Could it be doors 44 and 29? If the visitors turned to face these doors, the cat could have come from door 15 and left out of door 43. I would think the guests would notice the cat coming through the door next to the one they’re considering, and furthermore, if it’d left through 43, the guide would not be preventing them from seeing its exit, since they were facing in the opposite direction anyways.
    – What if it came from 43 and left into 15? For 43 to be on the guide’s right, he’d have to be standing further back than the visitors, so #5 would not be upheld when it left through door 15
    - By process of elimination, the only remaining pair is 29 and 15 which meets all the specified criteria in the prose if the guide turns with the guests, and the cat comes from 11, passes behind the visitors, and is prevented from detection while it exits behind the guide as he stands between the visitors and door 44.


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