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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157 thoughts on “Room 4

  1. OK – for poster at left, if we are supposed to go simple. Top figure indicates “in”, and the next is “out”. First door near to us is “in” next is “out”.

  2. I posted some complex solutions recently here. I still like those. And I quite like the new Axe one as I said. But I’m going to re-enter a vote for an old simple one.

    E, L, L also serves another function since if we take the letters’ numeric values and add them, we get 5+12+12=29, and 29 is the correct exit. Interestingly, if we turn the letters over and read them as numbers we have 7,7,3. Adding these gives 17, which is the hidden door we need to find in the next room.

  3. With regards to the left-hand poster, it could be another clue to the two correct doors, since two pieces are being fit into place. Or, I dunno, they look sort of like an I and a T.

  4. Well, if there is only 1, I’m pretty certain it is 3 as I find puzzles involving both Christopher and Manson. Here, well, If it is Manson, it is not part of a puzzle and just a funny bit, so that could count as not really being in the Maze. But you say it forms part of a yet undiscovered puzzle, huh? That I find odd. I would guess 19, of course.

  5. The latest most up-to-date version of the time bending one:

    The voices we hear are the guests themselves in room 16. And the cat comes from 16. When they hear the cat, they turn to look in the direction from which it came, 16. This on the surface is inconsistent with the text a bit farther down, where we are told “It was fortunate I was still standing with the rest of them or they might have noticed.” Let’s see if we can parse this out. My translation: It is fortunate I (in 16) was still standing with the rest of them (in 16) or they (the guests in 4, looking that direction) might have noticed. This is part of the clue to the guide’s identity in 16, because in 16 they DID notice the guide in 4. We are told, “A figure crossing the hall outside saw me and ran off”, and we see a figure in the archway to room 4. The guide in 4 says “before I could move” indicating that he did move shortly after that.

  6. Congratulations sp, Hello Gregor & vewatkin!

    You took this mindbending room from 2 to 4 in one day!

    Since you are close to solving this one I should say that I have no clue to the purpose of the phrase, “It was fortunate that I was still standing with the rest of them or they might have noticed.” I am not convinced by the arguments thus far, (my favorite is the highly unlikely solution involving time bending).

    The last bit left that I am counting on the meter is a simple riddle involving the left poster.

    White Raven

    • The standing with the rest of them could also refer to the ManSun door standing with the rest of the doors, but Greg thinks it fits well with the chair.

    • Vance Watley’s Public Defense Squad is submitting the following possible solution to the left poster:
      The poster on the left is to make us think of axle. The round one is an axle and the square is not.
      The poster on the right says ELL.
      If axle doesn’t already make you think of ax, taking the ell out of it will.

    • Manson said that he only put his name in once, assuming he is remembering correctly this isn’t it. I know it REALLY seems like a Manson reference, as does the man next to the sun in Room 3. But if there really is just one then it is in the room where the reference is part of the solution to a riddle.

    • Vance Watley’s Public Defense Squad,

      You’re thinking too hard.

      White Raven

  7. I quite like the ax part, with the in and out. Less sure about hammer part, but no solid reason for it to not function it that way. And if I draw lines through the bottom face of the hammer to the nails the alignment is pretty darn good, so yeah I’ll go with it.

  8. I feel like the common theme here is handles. The hands around the room are using handles for the light bulbs. The items with handles in here are the candle, the mallet, and the axe, the axe’s length covering both correct doors. The poster on the wall has an arrow pointing at the round peg going in, but the square peg does not have an arrow. This might be to indicate square things (not handles) are not relevant.

    • Maybe, the candle is unlit. The pieces on the poster haven’t yet been fit together. The nails haven’t been knocked down yet. The chair isn’t being sat upon. But the the ax IS splitting the log.

      Of hit, lit, fit, sit, and split, split is the only one that has happened.

      Then, as for 29 vs. 15, the head that is going in to the log covers 29. The handle that sticks out covers 15. Hmm, hmm. We’re not using the text at all, but we’re getting something.

    • I totally agree with vewatkin. The axe covers both correct exits. Even though the axe is the odd man out, the chair is an even odder man out. Although the use of “standing” and “rest” indicates that chair does mean something, not sure what though. It faces the correct door for the way out, perhaps as a second part of this puzzle if you don’t buy that the axe counts for both doors, only the one it’s closest to.

    • You used the text to infer that the Guide is going to sit. You also used the “process of elimination” to eliminate all of the yet to be completed actions.

    • sp & vewatkin,

      Congratulations sp on the noticing the ax covering both correct doors! Congratulations vewatkin for identifying the in/out order! That is two of the three parts of this riddle.

      White Raven

    • vewatkin,

      When you wrote about the sit, unlit, hit, split and fit, I realized I never confirmed that solution. I am posting it above.

      White Raven

    • vewatkin,

      I am not confirming your “has been done / has not been done” solution not because it is incorrect in general (you got it!) but because a part of it is incorrect.

      I did not think anyone would get this one – impressive!

      White Raven

    • Hey, everybody, call to arms on this thing. Let’s a get a fork stuck in Room 4 today. Can you imagine the psychological victory of being done with Room 4? SP got it started, and I added little–someone come kill this lousy room already! I’m going to be busy at work for a while, and it would be a sweet surprise to see a fully complete Room 4 when I get a break.

    • I’ll help by quoting relevant text:
      “It was fortunate that I was still standing with the rest of them…”
      This implies that there is a time after the incident with the cat that the Guide is either not standing with the rest of them, or not standing at all. If taken in the latter way, the Guide has yet to SIT.

      “Shall we toss a coin?” and “..they had no coins.”
      The important thing about tossing coins is they have heads and tails. Axes also have heads, and that makes their handle a tail. You follow the head going in and the tail going out.
      We can also infer from the coins that there are two useful doors. Coins have two sides.

      “…a process of elimination…”
      Here is a list of objects and IT verbs:
      Nails with mallet- waiting to be hit/to hit
      Candle with matches- Waiting to be lit/to light
      Chair with The Guide’s butt- Waiting for someone to sit/to sit
      Axe with Wood- Already been split/has split
      Poster on the wall- Shows how pieces fit
      (I’m unsure about the last one since what the poster is doing is showing and the pieces have yet to fit.)
      The process of elimination refers to:
      1. the removal of aspirational it verbs (that is verbs that have yet to occur, but really want to) to leave split and, thus axe.
      2. When something has been done, in this case an action, it is over. It is eliminated.

      Extra unrelated textual clue:
      “”…ran out of a door to my right..”
      There is one complete figure- the ManSun with two door sides for legs and a right and left hand each emitting light. His right hand indicates 15, 29, and 44. Further, all of the wall sconces on that side are right handed whereas the sconces on the other side are left handed.

      So, we’re looking to the three doors on the left-handed side of the page.

      “Shall we toss a coin?” “…Or have you made up your minds?”
      “They hadn’t made up there minds and they had no coins.”

      Coins and making up your mind refer to two separate subsets of the set of three left of the page doors:
      Coins= 29 and 15
      Make up your mind= 44 (as indicated by the poster).

      The Guide is giving them an option between choosing door 44 or choosing between 29 and 15- which look equally good to the people.
      Since they couldn’t make up their minds (choose door 44) and had no coins (couldn’t choose between 29 and 15) they decided to use a better solution as offered by SP and Vance Watley, Public Defender and found the right door via a process of elimination.

    • Well, although not completely buried in the wood, I guess you could say that the nails have been hit, so that what we’re looking at isn’t just the ax but also the hammer. Two nails, to signify the two doors its broad head points in the direction of, where you find the ax that tells us which doors to use first and second.

    • Hello Gregor,

      Correct on the coin connection!

      Correct on the sun and it’s two lit hands!

      White Raven

  9. Oooooooo

    “toss coins” = *binary* choice making.
    Those hands on the wall are holding coins.
    A wall of then all pointing up like that could mean “1111″ in binary.
    That = 15 and the correct exit on the 2nd trip.
    We ONLY on the second trip – becasue the other wall does not give the number of a door on that wall – it also gives “15″.

    After note = the sconces at the end then give door 11 in regular old base 10 notation.

    • The fact that the fist digit of that farthest pair is “1″ then “2″ then the nearest pair is “4″ also suggests binary.

    • If one of these things were true at least I’d be more inclined to go along:
      1) “standing” was repeated.
      2) “rest” was repeated
      3) It sat facing the wall between 29 and 15 which are the two good exits.

      But you might be on to something anyway, or maybe close to something, because that chair does seem non-randomly being so far down the hall.


    • A practical reason for it being there – it show a shadow from the “sun” which for timekeeping we are eventually supposed to see as the noon-day sun as we look South.

  10. Alright, can we do anything with this:

    Despite how many times it has been reiterated that candle may represent an “I,” the conspicuous handle on the base makes the object as a whole resemble a 6. The two nails in the board on the table–an 11? The side of the chair–an inverted 4?

    Of course, you want to jump right to a solution and say that if we eliminate 11 and all the doors with 6s and 4s we’re left with the two correct doors, but let’s not get stupid yet. If we’re accepting an inverted 4 then it’s problematic to rely on that candlestick as a 6 and not an upside-down 9–it’s arbitrary in any case.

    But the side of that chair–yeah, ok, simple chairs are shaped like inverted 4s from the side. But the consistent shading, the legs being flush with the seats, the perfect right angles–if you compare it to, for instance, any other chair in the book, you have a much more apparent 4-shape here.

  11. Refinement:

    The guide says “pay no attention”. Let’s pay “no” attention. N + O = 13 + 15 = 29 = first room exit. One of the last lines of text is “they had no coins” and here we could read “They had 29 coins”. Hand those hands on the wall could be holding coins. So we go to “29 coin”.

  12. We have the sun. We also have F+A+C+E = 6+1+3+5=15=correct door on return trip. (“Face” is both in the text and in the picture so it is a good bet we are to make use of it). Then interestingly, the number of rays on the sun is 16, which ties in well then with the cats’s run from 15 to 16.

  13. Two newish bits for 4

    The guide says “pay no attention”. Let’s pay “no” attention. N + O = 13 + 15 = 29 = first room exit.
    Let’s try the room level puzzle now. The splitting wood together with the puzzle suggests putting things together and taking them apart. The Hammer and nails and the candle and matches suggest things that go together. So we should take things apart and put things that go together back together.
    One of the first things is the numbers over the doors. The first row starts with 4, the next with “2” and the last with ‘1”. Take those apart and look at the single digits. On the left side we have 4,9,5, and 4+5=9, which indicates the correct answer (29).
    We can also take that chair apart. C=3 H=8 A=1 I=9 R=18. If we then add parts of them up, the only door numbers we can get are 11 and 29. But 11 is strongly warned against by being too highlighted. So “by process of elimination”, as the text says, we should go with 29.

  14. Not sure if this was posted:

    We also have F+A+C+E = 6+1+3+5=15=correct door on return trip. (“Face” is both in the text and in the picture so it is a good bet we are to make use of it).

  15. The guide says “pay no attention”. Let’s pay “no” attention. N + O = 14 + 15 = 29 = first room exit.

  16. “I was still standing with the rest of them” – this could men that the paty is crossing paths with itself and one group did not notice him in the other group.

  17. vewatkin. I know some here have looked at my webpage, have you? Here is what I have for room 4.

    Room 4

    Here we have another busy room.

    The word to the riddle clue in this room is “It”. The candle and the hammer look like the word. A candle can be “lit”. Wood is being “split”. The hammer can “hit” the nails. The chair is used to “sit”, and the pieces on the poster on the left “fit”. It also may be part of an Intelligence Test or “I.T.”.

    The poster of the maze on the right contains “E L L”. This spells “L”, and since this room is on both the shortest path to the center AND the shortest path back we also need to find a part of the clue to the riddle here on our way back, and “L” is one of the letters used to spell “SHOULDERS”.

    E, L, L also serves another function since if we take the letters’ numeric values and add them, we get 5+12+12=29, and 29 is the correct exit. We also might take some comfort from the fact that the black cat ran in that general direction. Interestingly, if we turn the letters over and read them as numbers we have 7,7,3. Adding these gives 17, which is the hidden door we need to find in the next room.

    “Flip” a coin may also be a reference to room 29, where we have to flip the book over to find the hidden door.

    We still need to find the exit door for our second trip through this room. A little thought will lead us to the conclusion that the clue for this room must be path dependent, and we will need to look for linkages with other rooms. On our way back we enter this room from room 39, which is a very clear reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Cask of Amantadillio” (discussed more in that room’s walkthrough).

    Now when we see the black cat, we should think of Poe’s story of the black cat, so this must be “Pluto”, the cat from that story.

    Next, if we look at room 16, there is an unlabeled exit to room 4. We are told, “A figure crossing the hall outside saw me and ran off”, and we see a figure in the archway to room 4. This is most likely supposed to be the cat, although the figure drawn looks more like Poe himself.

    The voices we hear in 4 are probably the guests themselves in room 16, since events in the Maze seem to happen at the same time. See rooms 37 and 10 for example.

    So, it seems the cat ran from room 16. Where did it go? Well, if it ran from 16 to 15, then the numeric value of the letters spell “PO” and 15 is indeed the correct exit on the return trip. But note, “PO” could only be a clue if we had just come from the “Poe room”, number 39, so this is a clue that works only on the return trip.

    If we need more confirmation we can look in room 15. We are told that we hear a bump and footsteps hurrying away, and then a door slams. Apparently this is the individual (Poe? The cat?) which we have followed here. Also purists might demand the “E” to finish the word Poe. For the most part room 15 gives us “H” a letter in the word “SHOULDERS”, but 3 is also a theme. (Discussed more in that room’s walkthrough), and as room 3 demonstrates to us (by a backwards sign for 33), a backwards 3 = “E”.

    In room 16 the ball under the hat seems to be a “Chamber pot”. This is also known as a “po”, maybe from French pot de chambre. The text also mentions the word “chamber”.

    Finally, we have the sun, and the narrator’s comment about it being a foolish face and just to ignore it. The door beneath it leads to a trap room, so it would be in his interest if we took that exit. We could have a sun with a man’s face = Manson. But better, we have this:

    If you map out the “upper level” of the Maze they can make a figure 8 shape, or on its side an infinity symbol. (See rooms 1 and 23). Half way through the figure 8 at room 4, here (half of 8) the path crosses itself, and we have a picture of the sun. If we assume we are looking South in all 3 areas, then we have morning sun in room 1, a representation of the noon-day sun here in room 4, and what is called “late afternoon” sun in rooms 23/19.

    • Yeah, that might be where I was seeing the -it word list, as opposed to anywhere on here. The alphanumeric coding too, I can’t remember whether it’s posted on here, but I tend to take some things for granted here that I shouldn’t.

  18. Probably nothing, but the narrator uses alliteration twice in the text: “foolish face” and “made up your minds.” The number that most closely sounds like those sounds is 29 (“foolish” shares the “oo” sound with 2, and “minds” shares the vowel sound with 9). And that’s the right door on the way in.

    Actually, what I like about that is the idea of the narrator not wanting to give us clues, but kind of accidentally doing so anyway. He would never purposefully guide us to room 29, but he knows the answer and maybe can’t help it.

    • Actually, the above comment/question was directed at White Raven, but I guess I need to be more direct. White Raven, why isn’t room 39 listed as one of the doors at the top of this page? There are only 8 doors listed.

    • Kon-Tiki (or is it Thor Heyerdahl?),

      The omission was just an error on my part. I’m not sure how I missed that. I am making the correction now. Thank you!

      White Raven

  19. I think I have some insight here. The narrator refers to a “process of elimination” So that is what I did when I solved this. He refers to a “foolish face” which is probably the sun above 11. That rules out 11. 43 has a maze in it, which is unsolvable if you look at it, suggesting you will go in circles or get trapped. 24 is just… 24. So it is wrong, and the ax is pointing to 15? So maybe the narrator means you should pick the door that has zero clues suggesting it? And 16 has the chair? This isn’t really though out, but do you guys see what I am getting at?

    • It wouldn’t be the first time that we’re meant to take the door that doesn’t have something mentioning/pointing to it…

      Maybe it doesn’t matter, but it’s interesting that the two unmarked doors are the way you’ll come in if you’re on the right path. (On the way in, you come from 42, unmarked. On the way out, you come here from 39, also unmarked.) I’m trying to use that to make sense of the narrator mentioning that the black cat “ran out of a door to my right.” But maybe nothing.

      And with the picture on the left: it seems to be something about putting a square peg in a round hole–a figure of speech that Wikipedia says “describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of his or her society.” That sounds like the narrator, so maybe we want to avoid a 44 because it’s marked with a poster representing him, the same way we want to avoid 43 because it’s marked with a maze, also kind of representing the narrator and his interests.

  20. Room 4 Solution: Partial.
    Fifth and thirteenth room of the path – The hidden word is “it” (on the way in), and the hidden letter is “L” (on the way out). “IT” is represented by the candle and the hammer which look like an “I” and a “T.” And “L” is hidden in the maze picture as the letters “ELL.”

    The correct doors are 29 on the way in and 15 on the way out. We don’t know why.

    Unsolved: Wood chopping block, nails on table, sun face, and the picture on the left. (Some have said that the left hand picture looks like an intelligence test and the abbreviation for intellegence is IT. Actually the abbreviation is almost always IN.)

    • Eleven is eliminated because the face is foolish. The doors on the right side of the page are eliminated by the cat. Forty-four is eliminated by it’s poster, leaving 29 and 15.
      For what it’s worth, I counted 15 stars in the only completely showing room arc (nearest the sun).
      Another way to look at the process of elimination is the assumption that the reader has tried all of the other doors by the time they reach room four.
      With the exception of Room 17, it’s the way I solved the whole to the center and back again in 16 moves. Perhaps this room is a microcosm of the method most people use? An antidote to the clever?

    • Being the repeated room on the path, and due to the strange way time works in the MAZE, the voices the group hears are the group either moving towards or away from the center- whatever is opposite from what the current group is doing.

    • I’ll bet you are right about this. We have one clear cut case of time warping as a model already. It seems logical that these are their own voices being echoed back across time.

    • I believe it’s mentioned elsewhere on this site, though I don’t see it written here, that the various objects in the room suggest the verbs hit, lit, fit, split, and sit. I take that as an indication of “it” as the hidden word.

      By whatever means, we are supposed to be able to eliminate all doors but 29 and 15; that’s what the coin-flipping reference is about. But we can eliminate 15, because there was a door to room 15 back in room 30 and we passed it up, so that can’t be the True Path. (Yes, this is a total flip-flop from my earlier position that we can’t assume we’re on the True Path when interpreting rooms. I’m fairly convinced this elimination of 15 is correct, however, so I’ll just say I was wrong for the fiftieth time today.)

    • (This applies to the way in, of course. On the way out, I think we simply choose 15 because it’s the second possible door and we didn’t take it yet.)


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