Jake Chambers

Jake Chambers

portal|The Dark Tower

John "Jake" Chambers is a major character in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series of novels. He first appeared in the short story "The Way Station" in "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" in April 1980, which was later compiled as one of the chapters of the first "Dark Tower" book, "The Gunslinger".

Character history

Beginnings

Jake Chambers was the son of Elmer Chambers in New York. Elmer Chambers was a big-time television advertising executive. At times, Jake didn't feel close to his own biological father, who always expected the best in grades– and all else– from him. Jake instead formed a close relationship with his housekeeper, Greta Shaw (who gave him the nickname "Bama"). In 1977, as he is going to school, Jake is pushed into oncoming traffic by a "man in black," is struck by an oncoming car, and is killed.

After dying, Jake arrives at a "way-station" in Mid-World (a building in the middle of the Mohaine Desert with an atomically powered water-pump). He spends many weeks living in the way-station, with the memory of who he was and how he died fading little by little in the erratic time of Mid-World. Soon, the series' main protagonist Roland Deschain comes to the way-station, nearly dying of thirst, and passes out. The frightened Jake takes Roland into his care and gives him water and food. Roland then hypnotizes the boy into telling him where he came from and how he died. Roland soon takes pity on the young boy and tells him that he'll take him on his journey to find the Man in Black, who Roland believes somehow murdered Jake in his world.

When Roland and Jake finally catch up to the Man in Black, Jake is nearly tossed off a crumbling, ancient bridge located deep underground, and he begs Roland to help him up. The Man in Black offers Roland the choice of either saving Jake or talking to him (the Man in Black). Roland, desperate to find the Dark Tower and knowing that the Man in Black knows his destiny, allows Jake to fall to his death, a choice that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Jake's final words as he plunges into the abyss are: "Go, then. There are other worlds than these."

Paradoxes

In the second book, the "The Drawing of the Three", Roland goes through a doorway into the mind of Jack Mort, a serial killer. Roland discovers in horror that Jack Mort was the man who pushed Jake in front of the oncoming car, under the guise of a priest (which is why Jake confused him with the Man in Black). Roland, not wanting Jake to die but instead to live a normal life, stops Jack from pushing Jake into the road, causing a time paradox.

Due to Roland's interference with Jake's planned death, both Roland and Jake (now alive in Keystone Earth, 1977) suffer split timelines in their heads. Roland remembers both meeting Jake at the way-station and letting him fall, but alternatively he does not recall ever meeting a boy at the way-station. Jake remembers dying and going to the way-station and meeting Roland, but similarly does not recall meeting him, which leads Jake to wonder if perhaps he imagined Roland. Both Jake and Roland realize they're going slowly insane. Roland, with the help of his new companions, Eddie Dean and Susannah Dean, find a way to "draw" Jake out of 1977 to join their ka-tet. The second he re-enters Mid-World, both Roland's and Jake's minds become stable again with the memory of meeting, and Roland promises Jake that he will never let him die again.

Jake becomes a valuable member of the ka-tet for the rest of series.

Role in the series

During more peaceful times, Jake acts as the adopted son of the group, especially for Roland (eventually coming to actually refer to him as Father). In combat and peril, Jake is as trusted and depended upon as the ka-tet's other members and rises to the responsibility ably. His childlike diversions and pet Oy provide some levity to the group. Meanwhile, his skill with the gun is equal to Eddie Dean's and comparable to Roland's.

The second death

In the series' final novel, "The Dark Tower", Jake accompanies Roland to Maine in 1999, knowing that if they don't save Stephen King (a character in his own series) from getting run over and killed by a van driven by Bryan Smith, he'll never finish the Dark Tower novels, the ka-tet will be "stranded" in time with no clear idea of how to proceed, and the entire multiverse– including the real world where the real Stephen King writes the books; will be destroyed by the Crimson King once there is no one left to stop him. When they see Bryan Smith's van driving towards the unwary King, Roland attempts to run after King but at the last second his hip, in great pain, finally gives out (where King felt the most pain after getting struck by the van), and Roland falls to the ground. Jake, realizing what he must do, throws himself in front of King, cushioning the blow and preventing King's death, but unfortunately going to his own final death as he is crushed underneath the vehicle. Roland, in shock, rushes over and hypnotizes King to tell him what he must do (finish the series). He then hypnotizes Bryan Smith as well and instructs both King and Smith to forget they ever saw Roland, Jake, or the woman who drove them both to the scene of the crime (thus making the car accident seem the same as the real one King was involved in 1999).

Jake dies with the woman who drove, Irene Tassenbaum, while Roland is hypnotizing King. Roland is devastated over Jake's death, the fact that he missed it, and especially about his promise to not let Jake die again. Roland carries Jakes body into the forest, and ending up at a "clearing that looked more [like] a church", he buries Jake's body, and both he and Oy cry for him. Irene then informs Roland of several things that Jake told her on his deathbed that Roland needed to know.

When Susannah goes through the last door at the end of the last novel and heads to another alternate New York, she finds another Eddie (who had also died during the last novel) and Jake; in this alternate world, the two are brothers, had both been dreaming of Susannah for quite some time, and have the last name "Toren" (the Dutch word for "Tower").


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