Room 41

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…a room with a special piece of furniture I thought might appeal to my guests.

“How can we trust that thing?” one remarked. “Who knows where it ends up…”

I knew, naturally, but that wasn’t the point. They were pretty sure of themselves, and went right on to…

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


Room Type: LOOP     Doors: 1  10  35  38


● The picture of the frog and a fly is a sign that taking the slide is a trap, which it is. [Credit: R. Serena Wakefield]

● The checkered floor, ladders and the chute recalls the classic board game Chutes and Ladders.  Winning Chutes and Ladders requires reaching the square marked 100. [Independent Credit: Kon-Tiki | White Raven] The doll in the picture on the wall is pointing to it’s wide open eyes which look like two zeros, combined with the “1″ of Door 1 this gives us 100 the winning space – indicating 1 as the correct door. [Credit: Kon-Tiki] The doll’s dress recalls the illustrations of girls in dresses in the version of the game in circulation in 1985. The bow on the doll’s head recalls the blue ribbon image on square 100. [Independent Credit: Marianne | White Raven]

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145 thoughts on “Room 41

  1. As an anagram we have “game” to “mega” and we have “O” which equals “OMEGA” which means the end or the last of….narrative states “it ends up” and the last of means there is only ONE left all indicating Door 1.

  2. It didn’t occur to me until today, but Chutes and Ladders uses a spinner, not dice, which may connect to the “point” in the text. It has already been remarked that the one mushroom outside the trough points to the first toe, suggesting “1,” which already does the trick, but maybe the mushroom is suggestive of the spinner arrow?

    Hm, don’t care much for that, but maybe someone can get something from looking for a spinner.

  3. On behalf of the eyes/i/I’s we are seeing (if you’ll pardon the pun):
    the doll = wide eyes, the frog = protruding eyes, the fly = bug eyed, the totem = bulls eye/big eye. They are all large eyes/upper case eyes are Roman numeral I = 1 = Door 1.

  4. This room may contain yet another game. The totem has “O’s” and crossed arms forming an “X” and a mushroom clueing “toe” as in “Tic Tac Toe” which is played on an open edged grid in the form of the number sign “#” which is placed in front of a number-in this case Room #1.

    • We were never able to get any traction with the Tic Tac Toe angle, but you do a good job of pointing out just how much it SEEMS LIKE that’s right. I’m not sure we’ve revisited the possibility since the Chutes and Ladders revelation; that certainly makes an accompanying Tic Tac Toe reference more likely, on the general theme of children’s games.

      The X, the O, the Toe…it seems pretty tempting, but what does it get us? I like the idea of invoking the # (the elements here are pointedly presented outside that context), but I don’t know that that really invokes “#1,” or, if it does, why.

      I wonder whether the idea of three Os in a row could somehow justify combining this with the doll’s eyes for…some…reason…

  5. Vewatkin, SP and Marianne,

    Congratulations Marianne! The doll probably does relate to the modern versions of Chutes and Ladders/Snakes which featured young girls in similar dresses, also I suspect that the ribbon is meant to indicate the blue ribbon square.

    Most likely Manson was using the 1979 Mattel version as a reference. Keep in mind Manson didn’t have Wikipedia, this could very well have been the only version Manson was familiar with and would certainly have been regarded him as the current and relevant version. Manson did not make MAZE to be a puzzle spanning three decades which makes our job more challenging at times. Good job Marianne!

    Vewatkin and SP are correct that the only good door is Door 1. The worst choice is 38 which leads to The Trap. The second worst is 35 which leads deep into The Loop. The second best is 10 which just goes one step in the wrong direction.

    For more information:

    In my opinion the doll is one of the most complicated single aspects of MAZE because of the number of overlapping possible clues (another high one is the totem in this room making this room a tough nut to crack for us all). Possible doll solutions:

    1. Pointing to her hair = “Yarn” (see Room 1 discussion for the connection)
    2. Pointing to her round eyes = two zeros
    3. The Bow (pointing or not) = The blue ribbon square
    4. Girls in dresses in the modern versions of Chutes and Ladders.
    5. [A possible solution not yet mentioned]
    6. [A possible solution not yet mentioned]
    7. Pointing to herself = “I Doll” =”idol”
    8. Pointing to her eyes = “eye(I) doll” = “idol”
    9. Pointing to her eyes = “see” = C = 100

    Manson said that the doll’s hair is yarn, take from that what you will. Number 2 (the round eyes = zeros) is obviously correct for a reason not yet mentioned. I am choosing to also confirm 3 (the bow) and 4 (the dress) but it’s just my best guess. I think 5 and 6 have good merit. I seriously doubt 7 8 and 9, the “idol” and “see” connections. I don’t see any reason to take the totem on the left as an idol and the doll pointing to her eyes makes this even less likely. I actually love the C = 100 solution and really wish it were true but it is too far a stretch for me…sigh.

    The overlapping clues appear to be far more complex than Manson intended – it looks like this one got away from him. What is amazing it that this is really rare in MAZE, preventing errant clues is far more difficult than creating clues.

    White Raven



      I think you may be glossing over the most important thing here.

      What’s interesting about this, to me, is that in each of the wrong rooms from Room 1, there seems to be something suggesting one of the other rooms:

      41: doll’s hair/YARN (pointing to 21)
      21: bird’s tail/TALE (pointing to 41)
      20: tortoise/FABLE (pointing to 26)

      You might object that it’s difficult to read the tortoise as being indicative of a fable without having also seen the hare in 15. Two responses: 1) So what? What’s wrong with that? 2) It’s not that big if a stretch to see the “wise old tortoise” on the border of the end of the journey and think of the tortoise that won the race.

      Oh, holy cow, virtually unrelated here, but how have we never mentioned this before (maybe we did and I forgot): In addition to the race against the hare in Aesop’s fable, a tortoise famously raced against Achilles in one of the proofs of the impossibility of motion by ancient Greek philosopher Zeno. What do we see mentioned in the same room as the hare? ACHILLES.

      Also interesting on that note is that Zeno’s proofs pretty much all revolved around the conceptual difficulty of resolving sums of an infinite series into finite terms. So, you got that stuff about, “Before you can walk across the room, you have to walk halfway across the room, and before you do that, you have to walk halfway across half of the room, and before that an eighth of the room,” etc., essentially meant to suggest that just because someone is crossing an infinite number points along the way that there’s some contradiction in claiming that that this journey could ever begin or finish or something. (For a better explanation, see anything anyone else has ever said about Zeno ever.)

      ANYWAY, the point is, the tortoise here did NOT make it to the end, but seems to have moved as close as possible taking 1/2 steps: If the total route is 16 steps, first you take steps to get halfway, then four steps to get half of what’s left, then two, then one…

      Without taking half a step, the tortoise can’t hit the next milestone in the Zeno progression, and anyway, he could never actually reach Room 1, according to Zeno.

      (Yeah, I explained Zeno’s concept sort of backwards to that up above, but come on, you all already know who Zeno is and what he said anyway, so just be cool.)

    • In fact, the comment in 20 that the tortoise watched with amusement as they walked around the edge of the room reminds me of another proof of Zeno…

      The description of the tortoise as “wise” may be be in regard to Lewis Carroll’s famous “sequel” dialogue to Zeno’s proof, or maybe even Douglas Hofstadter’s series of dialogues between Achilles and the tortoise (themselves based on Carroll’s dialogue).

      All of these comments are ending up in the wrong room, but I wonder whether that’s what the thump and the shutting door are in 15: the tortoise. The proof re Achilles and the tortoise was that the swift-running Achilles could never overtake a slow-moving tortoise that had set out ahead of him, because whenever he reached a point where the tortoise was, the tortoise would always be a little further along. So when we arrive in 15, where the hare and Achilles are–oops, too late, in the time it took us to get here the tortoise has moved a little further.

    • Vewatkin,

      Okay, full disclosure:

      Manson and were talking about the red herring trails that appear throughout MAZE and he mentioned that the doll’s hair is yarn – no further explanation. According to our agreement I didn’t follow up and ask for an explanation. Even though he didn’t say, “the yarn is part of a red herring trail” it seems obvious that it is.

      Red herring trails haven’t been talked about by anyone else that I know of so I was nervous to be bringing the subject up with him, fortunately I wasn’t just seeing things, they actually exist.

      I have come to the conclusion that all clues that span from one room to another are red herrings except for The Riddle of the Path and the trail part of the Riddle of the Guide. Manson did not confirm this but he confirmed the trail elements I had found and tossed in a few of is own. These red herring trails that lead nowhere are fairly plentiful and fun to find.

      The red herring trails I have found thus far and the few mentioned by Manson all use clues that are part of solutions, so the red herrings don’t mess with solving the rooms – which I think is just amazing.

      Your conclusion is well thought out as an odd-one-in solution but as a red herring I would say it is more natural to find “story” (the newspaper) not “fable” (the tortoise) in Room 20. “Fable” seems more fitting to Room 26. I will add this red herring to the solution of Room 1 and perhaps this will start the ball rolling on the red herring trails and hopefully also the Riddle of the Guide.

      White Raven

    • I’d say I forgot about the story (the towers also have stories), but, uh, I actually just ignored it because it didn’t serve the point I was making.

      Sorry, everybody.

    • Well, if you’re taking her ribbon to be the blue ribbon of victory, then the picture frame she’s in is in fact the 100 square of the gameboard, and her eyes the 00…we have a square (a rectangle whatever), the game piece, the blue ribbon, 00…all we’re missing is 1.

    • Maybe the two zeros that the doll point to indicate the two circles on the bullseye, and thus the correct door.

  6. Here’s a bit of a revisitation of all the theories combined, into as neat a package as I can make it:

    1. The room contains a Chutes and Ladders theme defined by the checkered floor and presence of two ladders, and various wavy shaped horns/tubes. Nonetheless, none of the doors associated with the Chutes and Ladders theme are correct.

    2. The doll points to herself (I, Doll), implicitly referring to the idol next to Door 1. I am not convinced this picture is trying to tell us anything more detailed than that (such as pointing specifically to her eyes, mouth, or whatever. “I, Doll” gets us somewhere, other arguments haven’t struck home as easily). The common theme among the doll and idol is the concept of singularity (“I, Doll” = first person, the idol has one eye, one belly button, the mushroom points to his first toe).

    3. As silly as this may sound, I am a true believer in Mr. Watkins’ suggestion that the idol is trust-falling. Combined with the word “trust” in the text, it appeals to me. I did some google image searching and the majority of the samples that came up had the trust faller’s arms in the exact same position. I even found an image in a woodcut format that reminded me of Manson’s own style. This being said, if the idol were to trust fall, the direction would be backwards into Room 1. Let me also not forget that the text mentions “right”. Room 1 is indeed right of the idol.

    None of this is new, but I have an obsessive compulsive need to relate and structure clues so that they meaningfully complement each other.

    • The trust fall thing ties into the “How can we trust that thing?” in the text. The slide, the ladder–who knows where they might end up? The idol you can trust–you know what Room 1 is.

      I think this is ridiculous.

    • Ridiculous? Sure! Clean and simple? Definitely! It’s not like this is THE most ridiculous thing anyone’s come up with..

    • Well, you’re right. I’m being harsher than I need to be to distance myself from it because I suggested it as a joke initially.

      I don’t think it’s even a bad connection to make part of a puzzle. I just think trust falls, while certainly existent, were a little obscure and trivial in 1985. Not obscure in an esoteric way (like Orson), but obscure in a pop cultural way. (Ignore any apparent contradiction there.) So it’s not that it was a bad idea if Manson meant it; I’m just saying I doubt he did.

    • Yup, totally agree that pop culture references are dubious. The only other thing I can think of for the idol is that his arms are crossed similar to mummified pharaohs.

    • Haha, I’m quibbling about pop culture clues in a room based on Chutes and Ladders.

  7. Snakes/Politicians…I get it. I’m in Chicago, that would be Illinois…four governors in the slammer and counting.
    Meanwhile, I love this room. Mushroom/toadstool, maybe that’s the “special piece of furniture”, the stool? Toadstools are also called redcaps.

  8. For pictures of a Chutes & Ladders Board just hit up the net there are literally hundreds of all sorts out there. Also, the picture of the doll may be one of the token kids included in some game editions. I was clued in by a reliable authority on the game (an adult daughter) who remembered that the winning square was in the upper left corner and that there was a ladder from square 80 to winning square 100-I checked the board and that is indeed the case. I don’t think the correct door is #1 as if the theme here is indeed Chutes and Ladders and you clue 100 to door #1 that would be the end (a trap) as there are no squares after 100 therefore nowhere to go after entering that room.

    • Hi Marianne, I’m not explicitly trying to shoot down your theories, I am trying to explain to you from a backwards engineering point of view. A number of us (on this website) have been using a map of the path, the loop, and the traps in the maze. According to these (accurate) maps, 1 is the door that allows you to complete the objective of the book, and you can only escape the Loop via this room (41). The other doors fling you back into either the Loop or the Trap. Check out the section on this site regarding routes within the maze to escape the loop and completing the Path.

      I did google image search for chutes and ladders and there’s simply no standard. What I’m getting at is that without a standard to conform to, I don’t think Manson would have intended the top left corner to be the correct choice. It’s not like chess where all the pieces go in the same places every time. The whole beauty of chutes and ladders is that you can make your own.

    • The board design I referred to as the standard does indeed feature square 100 on the top left. Ignoring Snakes and Ladders and subsequent variants, I think there is a standard layout to the commercial Chutes and Ladders sold for decades in the United States.

      The doll-as-gamepiece is interesting.

    • I’m a dummy, I just looked again and the mass produced Milton Bradley version indeed has it in the top left. I mean, I always played SNAKES and ladders, so I don’t know anything about the soft rated PG version!

    • The game had to be redesigned for American release because the rarity of snakes on the East coast left most American players confused about the game.

    • Being American, I don’t understand the implications of equating politicians with snakes.

  9. The game winning 100 blue ribbon square is located in the upper left of the game board. The number 80 square has a ladder that goes directly to the winning square 100…but I don’t see an 80 anywhere (so far) in the room.

  10. Most items I believe clue to Room 35…
    FROM THE NARRATIVE: “ends up” & “the point” = the arrow on the sign pointing up.
    OVERHEAD: girl in picture pointing to bow over her head-frog looking at fly over head-
    mushroom caps as caps are worn over the head-sarcophagus has circles over face/head=the room “over head” which is Room 35.
    RHYMES: fung(fungus)-hung(picture)-tongue(frog) = rung(the ladder).
    Chutes & Ladders game board’s winning square is located in the upper left corner of the board where the “ladder” is located. The winning game square is called the “blue ribbon” square (girl has a ribbon tied into a bow on top of her head).
    The girl appears to have mushrooms on top of her head and the sarcophagus has mushrooms on its feet/toe=head to toe. A look into room 35 has a door with a ladder coming up into the room that would be from this room 41 (top to bottom/head to toe).

    • The chutes and ladders winning square is in the top right corner, and the beginning square is in the bottom left. (At least, every version I’ve played). Indeed, if there is no standard to this format in this game, then I don’t think Manson would have relied on a corner to denote a clue.

    • It is odd, though, as noted before: If Chutes and Ladders is the theme, why is the one ladder in the room a bad choice?

      I agree about all the signs in the room pointing up–we noted this before, though interpreted it differently, presumably because we knew we were looking for some way to clue 1. But honestly, this is another one of those situations where if we didn’t know the right answer already, we’d be saying that the right answer is 35; and it would seem like a pretty good answer!

      The fact that going to 35 lands you what appears to be someone’s basement (to paraphrase) is a good indication that the ladder wasn’t the boon we thought it was, but that’s a little late to break that news.

      If we had a stronger association between the 1 door and the number 100, I think it would work a little better, but the doll-eye thing is a little hard to hang your hat on, and it’s even harder to ignore the eye-dol/idol phonetic similarity. The double (though concentric) circles on the idol’s head, connected to the “1″ by the top of the door, seem a better candidate for associating 1 with 100, but even that is a little tenuous.

      Have we said all this before? Have we said everything before? Has every possible statement been made yet?

    • Alex rightfully corrected me; there are two ladders in this room, and both are bad.

      re: the doll picture:

      “Yeah, there are a lot of ways to read that how you want to

      one finger = 1
      eye = I = 1
      eye-doll = idol = [right by] 1
      “see” = C = 100 [if you accept that 1 + idol's circles = 100]
      But any solution that ignores that she’s a doll seems a bit…INELEGANT, at least”

    • Interestingly (that may be overstating it), on a standard Chutes and Ladders board (yes, there is a standard, though many variations), of the spaces 1, 38, and 10, only 1 is at the bottom of a ladder; i.e. only 1 advances you.

      Not a terribly strong indicator, since I think if Manson meant to mean something by that, he probably would have had the slide lead to a room number that corresponded to the top of a chute.

  11. The horns of various size and shape are camouflage for what is actually another chute: we have assumed the big downward-leading mouth is part of a horn, but given the theme of the room, and the size of the mouth, and that it’s propped up in a way not visually explained, I think we can say that it is actually a chute going down somewhere. That’s not the exit we go through if we go that way (10 isn’t a one-way trip), the door in the back is, but this bad path is marked with a chute at least.

  12. Kon-Tiki,

    Congratulations on Chutes and Ladders and the doll’s eyes!

    There are two more aspects to this solution (that I know of), keep going!

    By the way, I didn’t have the doll’s eyes as part of the solution, good, um, eyes.

    White Raven

    • Thank god for Kon-Tiki. This solution drought has gone on for too long. Keep up the good work!

      Also, you own this Chutes and Ladders solution now, so be a dear and find the other two tie-in clues.

    • This is why I should never confirm solutions without my notes in front of me. There are four tie-in solutions. (GIve me a break, I haven’t looked at this room in over two years.) Plus, as a consequence of Kon-Tiki’s doll eyes solution there is another one well that supports that solution. So at least five tie-in solutions.

  13. A random thought. Since even someone new to the maze would know that door 1 is a safe door, then clues might be geared towards indicating which doors “not” to take. WIth this in view we see the flytrap. But what about the “conical” horns. I’ve been thinking about those cone shapes, like the one in room 13. Since there is typicaly a direction that air flows in a horn, maybe it’s an indication of “wrong way” or “backwards” when the small end is pointing at a door.

    • I’m convinced that Chutes and Ladders is the central theme here, though I’m not sure about all the details. Kon-Tiki really cleaned up here!

  14. the mushroom is pointing to the big toe (i.e. the first toe). the etymology of “digit” is from latin for “digitus” for “finger or toe”. So then the mushroom is pointing to the first digit = 1.
    As for the obvious that might not have been mentioned: there is a big “A” between the ladder part of the slide and the slide itself. A = 1

    again sorry if any of this has been already mentioned.

    • good observation, the mushroom thing was mentioned but the A-shape is new and I wouldn’t discount it knowing that angles play a large part in clues. You got anything on the checkered floor?

    • SP, as for the checkered floor, i guess the obvious is the end of the race where someone has won (1).
      I was also thinking along the lines of chutes(snakes) and ladders. the horns look kind of snakey, and there’s the ladder and the slide(chute). But i guess the obvious drawback to this hypothesis is that the ladder isn’t good in this room. The chute is definately bad, but the ladder should be good. But …there’s the saying “back to square 1″ that apparently has it’s origin in this game.

    • You know, the idol is kind of shaped like a traditional game piece, though the details aren’t in line with that.

    • To expand on the tenuous chutes and ladder theme. The 1 above “door 1″ can be paired with the two circles on the idol’s face to be interpreted as 100 (the goal of chutes and ladders). Especially since the 1 is somewhat connected to the cirlces by the black border of the door.

  15. However, anagram lovers would probably say there is a “mushroom trough” which can become: “Mush! Go thru room” # 1.

  16. Hmm, the mushrooms are still lying there unexplained. However, Iron Maiden had a song prior to the book, called: Flight of Icarus.
    The Minoan Palace of Knossos was a magnificent architectural design and building, of 1,300 rooms, decorated with stunning frescoes and artifacts. Daedalus advised Princess Ariadne to give Theseus the thread that helped him come out from the infamous Labyrinth, after killing the Minotaur. For this he and Icarus were thrown into the Maze. Daedalus managed to create wings, using branches and wax. He taught Icarus how to fly, but told him to keep away from the sun because the heat would destroy the wings. Daedalus and Icarus managed to escape the Labyrinth and flew to the sky, free.

  17. Circles seem best of that group to me. I’ve given up anything but perfect anagrams in my list of solutions.

  18. How about (and apologies if this has been said before) “Mushroom first-toe” can be re-arranged into “mush to(e) first room”; mush meaning hurry. and it has been noted that mushrooms signify rebirth. Also the statues “right” arm is pointing to Door 1.

    • also cirlces can imply unity (1) or cycle (rebirth, return, begin again) hence the statue’s head and navel, but also the mushrooms and the horns’ bells

    • also, 1 could be considered a very basic Phallus symbol. In this light: the statue, mushrooms, door shape, number-sign shape, and horns take on a new light. (heck, like Freud, one could see phallic symbols everywhere: ladders, fingers, toes arrow…. it’s a never ending abyss…..

    • Haha, that would be great if that were the solution. “There are a lot of elongated objects, sort of the shape of the number 1.” “Sorry, no, there’s a little more to it than that.” “Uh, the 1, and all the objects, are also shaped like penises?” “DING DING DING! Three puzzle points!”

  19. Oh, hey, we know one of Manson’s favorite word slippages is on C/see. Do you think any of the various eye-related clues here are meant to indicate SEE, which in turn means C, the letter associated with the door you should have taken in 1?

    Room 21 might have a similar thing going on with the crescent wrench, but that’s more directly just a pair of Cs. There would be C theme in there if we could pretend that was a crane and a caduceus, but my imagination isn’t that strong, so I’m sticking with the spanner.

    Anything similar in 20? Not sure there should be, since it is a room on the path with its own cluing agenda.

    • The “C” theme mentioned here and the correlation of an “Episcopal see”, may very well be related.

  20. As recently detailed there are a number of symbols of death and rebirth here. The floor is one. But the black and white together are a Unified whole, the Tao, Unity = 1.

  21. Let’s try a different a assembly of clues already found. vswatkins notes sarcophagus is about to do a trust fall, and “trust” in the text is a clue. Also Vewatkins notes the text says essentially “Who knows where that ends up”, and that could mean the slide, but also the ladder

    There are lots of “I”s in this room. The doll is pointing at two of them. We have the frog which seems to have “spied” a “fly”. Then we have a “tile” floor, a “bull’s-eye”, a “slide”, and some “fungi”. They are fungi both because they are mushrooms, and because they are on toes, where one might find foot fungus. The text also gives us the word “I”, twice, and repeated words tend to be important. The doll could point to herself “I”.

    Together with “trust” we have the idea of trusting our eyes. This indicates door 1 both because we have been there, and because “I” looks like a “1″, and becasue the big bullseye is on that wall.

    The doll is either pointing to her eyes or plugging her ears. That and the twisted horns indicates we should not relay on sound.

  22. Hmm…I thought Vince, I and others did a fair job here last week. We have solutions big, small, and in the middle, and quite few. I have to think that some of them at least must have significant overlap with what WR has. So WR – can you give us sort of a summary of what sized solutions you have outstanding here and how much they might have in common with what we have. Maybe read through my page 41 is you have time this week – it shoud have a fair summary of proposed ideas. Thanks,

    • You and the group have made good progress on two riddles – keep going!

  23. vswatkins notes sarcophagus is about to do a trust fall, and “trust” in the text is a clue. SP notes an anagram of “trust fall” is “full start”. I note is we take the “eye” and “I” and the navel as “new” we have “I full new start”. But “trust” plays an even larger part in the theme of this room. We also need to involve the Medieval philosophy that equates “seeing” with direct experience and “hearing”. The doll is a big clue to that by pointing to both her eyes and her ears and the fact that both can be used in solutions here. Also Vewatkins notes the text says essentially “Who knows where that ends up”, and that could mean the slide, but also the ladder and a couple of the horns. We should take door #1, since we know where that leads. I’ve also noted that the twisted horns might make a very bad sound. Putting this all together, the ladder and the slide are both bad choices, because they do not rely on direct experience or on justified faith and/or inference, but rather rely only on “blind faith”. The horn/sound/faith in door 10 seems distorted and false as well. But we can, here at least, rely on direct experience, seeing, and return to room 1 which we know and have experienced.

  24. vswatkins notes sacrcophagus is about to do a trust fall. SP notes an anagram of “trust fall” is “full start”. I note is we take the “eye” and “I” and the navel as “new” we have “I full new start”.


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