Room 42

Navigate by clicking on doors or door numbers.

Image Map

…the next room.

In one corner a savage animal appeared ready to leap out, roaring, rending with tusk and claw…but it was only a bit of taxidermy after all.

I suggested they might wish to hang up their coats before going on.

“How will we find them?” one asked. “We might not pass through here again.”

I assured them I would help them to return. “You can count on me,” I said sincerely. Still, they wouldn’t leave anything behind.

Opening one of the doors we made our way to…

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


Room Type: PATH     Doors: 4  22  25  30  37


● The correct door is 4. [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room is “bear” (referring to “the animal”). [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● On three of the doors are pairs, a pair of scissors, a pair of dice, and a pear. The non-pair (the salt and pepper shaker set) is the correct door – 4. [Credit: Slala]

● There are three somewhat hidden “four”s in this room. 4 boots in a group, 4 bear feet, and the mislabeled bottom dice that adds up to 4. [Credit: Beq S.]

● “Sinners this way” refers to door 30 (the animal is pointing behind itself), which is the incorrect door. [Credit: Hello Gregor] [Note: This is half of the solution.]

● In the text it says, ““You can count on me,” I said sincerely.” “On me” is four letters, indicating Door 4. Thus when the guide is sincerely helping when he says, “You can count ON ME.” [Independent Credit: Dnutz | White Raven] This is hinted at by the phrases bracketing the clue, “I assured them I would help them return.” and “Still they wouldn’t leave anything behind.” To anyone who has played MAZE for long it is obvious that the Guide is not going to help them return and the visitors are correct to keep their coats with them. The addition of the thought-word “sincerely” in the midst of the Guide’s deception puts the clue in high relief. [Credit: White Raven]

● The bear paws in the picture above the doors are angled oddly, the back two are acute angles while the front two feet are right angles. The shape of the feet may be suggestive of the shape of the “4″ on door 4. The shape of the left feet make the left side of the 4, while the right feet make the right side of the 4. [Credit: Aria] [See related images]

View Related Images >



139 thoughts on “Room 42

  1. Here’s a simple answer: The bear points left, “bear left.”

    To “bear left” means to take a left fork. Typically, the phrase is used at intersections to differentiate from “turn left,” as the driver should lean left while moving forward (as opposed to changing direction by 90 degrees).

    I think this is a significant clue, because it’s given special attention in the description.

    • One difficulty here is that if we’re reading the bear as a sort of rebus or visual pun, and not paying attention to where it’s actually pointing, we’re looking at a bear pointing with its right “arm.”

      Now, it could be that we’re not reading it for the words “bear left” exactly; more like “bear in this direction.” Then we don’t have to worry about the fact that it’s the bear’s right but our left; call it what you want, but we’re bearing in the direction the bear is pointing.

      But that requires a strange level of abstraction, where we’re saying, “bear in this direction, but not where the bear is actually pointing, nor in that direction relative to the pointing bear,” because the natural reading of a pointing bear that means “bear in this direction” would be to go where it’s pointing, most likely, and perhaps secondarily somewhere else in that same direction relative to the bear. But taking the door on [our] right relative to a sign indicating “bear left” is not a natural reading of the clue.

      I’d further suggest–though I may be wrong, and other old people’s experience may correct me–that the distinction between “bearing” and “turning” is one that has arisen largely in the age of GPS devices, where usage typically differs as you say, as a means of clarifying automated navigational instructions. Previously, “bear” was commonly used synonymously with “turn,” and would not have been recognized as a contrasting concept.

  2. Guys, I noticed something that I’m not sure has been pointed out yet. Look at the dots on the dice. There are 3 sets of 1 dot, 2 sets of 2 dots, and 1 set of 3 dots. 3+1=4, 2+2=4, and 3+1=4.
    Everyone has noticed there are groupings of one, two, three, and four objects in the room. So how can we know what all these differing numbers indicate? Maybe the dice are telling us that all these numbers add up to four.
    The dice are not labeled correctly (the bottom due has two faces with one dot). This has to be intentional, and it draws attention to the dice. Is this the key to the room?
    Is this too much speculation, or could this tie all the “random” numbers in the room together?

    • Well, it does seem peculiar that you would add those numbers in that way–that you would say, “There are three 1s, so let’s add 3 and 1.” The pattern you suggest is there, but I suspect it arose, coincidentally, for another reason.

      I suspect these numbers are what they are as an indication to go to Room 10 in 37. That is, you have this door with the dice, the numbers add to 10, you go through the door, there are more dice, and one of the doors is 10, hey, look at that, we found a trail.

      With each die showing three sides, there is no way to make it add up to ten using conventional dice, because the lowest number you can get from adding three sides of a die is 6 (1+2+3), and therefore the lowest number you can get from two dice is 12. That’s why one of these dice features two 1s. Not only is making the dice non-standard the only way to have six faces add to 10, but this specific non-standard set of numbers (1,2,3//1,1,2) is basically what you have to do to get the sides to add to 10–well, this, or make one of the sides blank, as happens on the other side.

  3. I hadn’t even realized that the pictures on the wrong doors were pairs – I just thought 4 was the right door because the salt and pepper shaker was a reference to the salt shaker in 26 earlier on the path.

    • David Gentile, of all people, was an early detractor of the pair interpretation, and in hindsight I think he had the better of the argument (until he started offering his own interpretation). Absent the knowledge that we want to go to 4, I don’t think the natural conclusion is that salt and pepper, two condiments that are ubiquitously and idiomatically paired together, are not a pair. Rather, if we were sent in blind and told to pick which thing is not like the other things, we would probably say they are all PAIRs except for the PEAR, and say “ha ha ha that’s kind of clever, well not clever exactly but it’s funny, sort of.”

      It is possible that the puzzle creator thought to himself, “Alright, now I just need to put something here, ANYTHING, so long as it is NOT a pair…oh, I know! Salt and pepper!” It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, by which I mean in this specific book. But it’s questionable enough that I wouldn’t consider it decided.

    • I was going through the book earlier without having looked online for help. I assumed every door had a “pair” on it, except the “pear”, which is pronounced the same but spelled different. (A heterograph?). So yeah, I definitely think people going through the book would think the salt and pepper were a “pair”. For this book to be so meticulously crafted, it would seem odd for something so misleading to exist, no?

  4. In room 42, 4 doors have pictures of pairs/pear on but only the door to R.4 is a proper pair. The dice are marked incorrectly; the pear is a play on word sound; scissors are referred to a pair because of the 2 cutting blades but are a single implement. Having elimiated doors 22, 25 and 37 the bear is positioned between the 2 remaining doors, Sinners are this way (pointing to 30) as we do not want to be sinners (sin = to miss the mark, to err) we therefore go to the remaiing door 4.

  5. Hi, I’m pretty new here, although I’ve dipped in and out of Maze book for a while. My first observation diving in randomly. Link between Rooms 42/37. Guide suggests they hang up their coats, telling them sincerely he would help them return, they can COUNT on him. Hatstand is by R.37, on the door are dice showing numbers where we can count 1,2,3 and 4. In R.37 are more dice, the missing top face is 4 and the other is 2, making 42, the room to return to having made a wrong move – collecting their coats again.!

  6. “Saints that way” presumably refers to the “pair o’ dice”–ok, fair enough.

    That means “sinners this way” refers to the other direction–but does it refer to 30, 22, or both?

    30 has the fruit tree and the mention of Eve–that is, suggestion of the Garden of Eden, the home of original sin.

    22 has a devil’s pitchfork, and is in the trap, where some other devilish imagery can be found–that is, suggestion of Hell.

    Hell and Eden are both appropriate places for sinners, and where the bear is pointing could not be less clear to me.

    • Although, I guess it’s a presumption, perhaps an unmerited one, that we’re to rely on the bear for our directions. The sign itself is partway inside the door to 30, so maybe the natural reading of “this way” is that it refers to 30.

  7. So there’s this thing called a Doom painting, which is a painting of the Last Judgment on the wall of a chuch. Michelangelo’s version in the Sistine Chapel is the most famous example (see Wikipedia for details). Anyway, an important common feature of these is that Christ sits in the middle pointing up with his right hand, toward the left side of the painting, indicating the Saved. He points down with his left hand, to the right side of the painting, indicating the Damned.

    What this does is gives us a way to unambiguously interpret the sign. The SAINTS side is on the left of the image; the SINNERS side is on the right.

    BUT Manson is being sneaky here. Look at all the truncated things in this room. Boots, bear feet, a hat, an elephant’s foot. And also look at the SCISSORS, which bear an interesting similarity to the words SAINTS and SINNERS, in that they all start and end with the letter S. (Already noted of course.) Lood at the text about hanging up coats (removing outer parts), and leaving things behind. Look at the similar-looking ends of the coatrack. If you remove the ends of the words as suggested by these things, you get “AIN’T that way” (meaning Room 2, which he’s pointing to) and “INNER that way” (meaning the bear’s right, Room 4, which he’s indicating with his elbow, which does indeed lead toward the centre, our goal).

    This all matches nicely with the St. Peter at the PEARly gates of PARADISE theme of doors on the right.


    • Manson had a devious knack for designing puzzles loosely based on things you would later find interesting on wikipedia.

    • We know for a fact that Room 39 references an outside work. Why are you so resistant to the idea that other outside works could be referenced in MAZE? Yes, we can find potential references more easily now with the Internet. That doesn’t make all things we’ve found using Wikipedia wrong.

    • I don’t think it is ALL references, just that using the internet it isn’t hard to cherry-pick obscure tales or versions of a tale that Manson really wouldn’t have had any reason to use. Trying to use an interpretative thought process through the translation of outside works into Maze really just drags you deeper- like the jian bird thing I mentioned, there really is no chance Manson could have been thinking of that. Even if it seemed cool (marriage, rings! one wing??) it is SO easy to do. We have no reason to trust one specific painting that conviently matches up with a preferred interpretation than a different painting that points in different directions.

      You chose the saints = left, sinners = right because of a painting that lined up with that interpretation. But you chose the painting because of a predisposed bias for this idea. Your evidence for the idea is based off of the idea itself.

      If something like that occurs, then it probably means there wasn’t much evidence in the first place.

    • The thing is, it’s not one specific painting. It’s an entire well-known class of religious paintings. With a characteristic feature that seems to me to be very clearly referenced in this room. In a room that contains imagery/puzzles relating to the Bible and is connected to at least one other room like that (Adam/Eve/original sinners in 30). It’s paintings about judgment in a room connected to a room explicitly about judgment and containing a picture of scales. It doesn’t really matter to me if I convince anyone else about this idea but I don’t think it’s fair to say that my evidence is based on my idea. My evidence is that in this room there’s a figure indicating one way for sinners and one way for saints (according to his huge sign) by pointing up and down/left and right and there’s a whole class of paintings in which that also happens.

    • The bear… isn’t really making the same pose. That’s what’s throwing me off for the non-confirmation-bias evidence.
      The bear is so ambiguous (right? left? inner? ain’t? elbow?) that it’s wayyyy too easy to just assign it to the correct door, and the fact that it’s not making the same pose kind of clouds it up for me. Like, we could make the same exact argument if the doors were inverted through arm/elbow/left/right shenanigans, and the “inner” being positive while “sinners” is not. I don’t know. I kinda like this one though, it is just hard for me to imagine this is what Manson intended.

    • It’s willfully and transparently dishonest to suggest that anyone here thinks that no works besides The Cask of Amontillado are referenced in Maze. But it’s still more believable than this doom painting nonsense.

      To paraphrase Stephen Roberts or whoever:
      “When you understand why you dismiss the nonsense of Gentile, Marianne, Thail Krider, and WBM, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

  8. The bear is a signpost at a fork in the road. As you face that signpost there is but one way to go: you bear right because “right” is the “correct” way to go. As you bear right at the signpost you go through Door #4.


Post Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>