The Long Walk The Long Walk question

Why does Garraty run at the end? (spoilers)
Saeed Saeed (last edited Apr 13, 2016 09:01AM ) Apr 13, 2016 09:00AM
the books ends with Garraty "finding the strength to run".

why would he run? run from/towards what?

Jeff (last edited May 10, 2017 05:59AM ) Apr 16, 2017 06:38AM   5 votes
My first thought at the end of the book was, "He died!?" I thought perhaps he was seeing his father (which could mean he was glimpsing the afterlife, or only that he was hallucinating), or maybe he was seeing Death itself (which would imply certain or impending death for Garraty). Ultimately I decided for myself that he lived, but I quickly understood that was not the point. We are not supposed to get hung up on the literal, but to realize that no one really wins The Long Walk, because the long walk never ends--until everything ends--for all of us. The underlying theme throughout is that each of us has a long walk that is our life journey, and during it we meet people, lose friends and loved ones, and tell ourselves stories true and wishful, to keep going. Bachman provides no good answers for why anyone volunteers for The Long Walk, and doesn't reveal any specific grand Prize, leaving us to ask ourselves, "Why would I choose to do it?" And, "What would I want as my prize?" By the end (or middle) of the story, however, the answers to both questions tend to be, "To live." But literally feeling the characters' pain in the early chapters of this book, my favorite reply to the prize question is actually: "Plaaaaaastic feet."

My first take on meaning of the ending was that even though the race was over, it would never be over for Garraty, he would carry that burden for the rest of his life, so he kept going( the race never ends.)Then I re-read the ending and I think it could also mean that he was too far gone and he continued to walk toward the shadowy figure in front of him,which is Death(Garraty dies.)I wish King had written more after the race, I would like to know how Garraty handled the awful burden of winning.

Savannah I totally agree. I thought the ending was a little trite. It seemed like I was supposed to be shocked and emotional that it would end so suddenly, but ...more
Nov 30, 2020 12:44PM · flag

I believe he was hallucinating and saw the Major as a foe on his path. When the Major (I think it was the Major) reached out to touch his shoulder, Garraty might have felt more competitive suddenly or, in his hallucinogenic state, thought another walker was trying to interfere and ran to get away. He might have also wanted to use his last ounce of strength to really win the Walk, thinking the Major was another competitor. Perhaps, even whilst hallucinating, Garraty felt he was finally free of the Walk and ran to "get away" from the devious society that made up the Walk in the first place or maybe just the Walk itself. There's probably more symbolism involved too, but I just haven't thought of it yet.

Perhaps the dark figure is one of the first appearances of Randall Flagg.

From Wikipedia: "In 2004, King said that Flagg had been a presence in his writing since the beginning of his career, with the idea coming to him in college. He first wrote a poem, "The Dark Man", about a man who rides the rails and confesses to murder and rape; written on the back of a placemat in a college restaurant, the one-page poem was published in 1969, but the character never left King's mind. To the author, what made Flagg interesting was "the idea of the villain as somebody who was always on the outside looking in, and hated people who had good fellowship and good conversation and friends"."

I also figured he was running towards Death, the shadowy figure ahead of him, who had taken all the rest of his group and all the other boys. But man, who knows--it's so incredibly vague. Maybe that's what packs the punch.

In the Wheel of Time there was passage concerning a Wolf. He had passed away you see and he always wanted to fly. So his brethren named him Hopper when he was alive. After he passed he was seen again in a dream world where all the Wolves go when they die. After being seen by another, dreaming, saying goodbye he had a parting thought from the Wolf... "To Soar!" And Hopper took of and flew away...a Wolf. The thought was filled with joy and content as if to say this is all that I have ever wanted. I thought of Garraty when I read this. It was a melancholy need to just run, because he could, because we all have to, because we live until we die so you keep it moving until you can't. And if you stumble and fall, you get back up and run if you have to to catch up. I think Garrety died and his spirit got up and kept on walking and even better.... He Ran.

I think one of two things. Stephen King was trying to prove the insanity of something like this by showing that if you have an opponent (Stebbins) willing to walk all the way to death, you too in fact would have to do the same. It seems they walked further then anyone ever in the race before and to do that required the price of death. So Garrity had also like Stebbins crossed the point of no return and was about to collapse just like Stebbins and flat out die. OR he was completely delusional and would run till he collapsed then he would have been hospitalized and saved to live as the winner. I would lean toward the first idea of what do you do in a race with no winner? Would this mean the end of this race as fans would not ever want this kind of outcome? Is it a lesson learned to the world? There has to be a winner right? So something like this happening could have meant the end to the whole thing. This was that one race where two people resigned (more then likely subconsciously) themselves to die before they stopped walking. The whole idea is crazy to begin with so King makes a bigger statement about the insanity of it all by having the most insane ending of all. No Winner.

U 25x33
Stephen One of the characters had earlier, (in an insane state), yelled something about how there’s no winner and that the major will bring you behind a barn ...more
Mar 09, 2020 04:51PM · flag

Brian (last edited Sep 10, 2021 07:18PM ) Sep 10, 2021 04:34PM   0 votes
Remember that after Garraty outwalks Stebbins, at that point, all of his friends, including his best friend of all, McVries are gone. Everyone Garraty knew and grew to know is gone. Everyone except him.

The truth is that the Long Walk isn't a game at all. Its a metaphor. An Allegory. The Long Walk is something with which we're all familiar. Its the walk of life, and the road is nothing more than the passage of time. A road upon which we all tread. We come to know and love people. We see them disappear, one at a time, either through distance, time or mortality.

Everyone that you know or have known has made this walk in their life. If they're still alive, they're still making that same walk. If you're alive (I'm assuming you are, if you're reading this and if not, then we're probably all in more trouble than we know), you're on the walk of life.

The minimum speed is simply the level of poverty. The point at which you become irrelevent to the rest of society. If you walk much faster and longer than everyone else, you are an icon. A "star", and those on the walk will follow you. Mimic you. Maybe even try to become you.

When you reach the point where you are the last walker, then perhaps you've outlived everyone else you've known and are now living a world that is no longer familiar with you or the circle of people with whom you were once familiar.

Face it. We're all on the Long Walk, whether you signed up for it, or not.

However, much like Garraty's experience, I can honestly tell you that there is nothing more lonely that to see the circle of people you once knew and cherished, disappear one at a time, until there are none left except those of you who are left to experience such a thing.

Remember that, because that IS your mortality. The limit of the extent to which your time here extends and honestly speaking, there is nobody alive or dead or that has ever lived that can tell us honestly from experience what happens once that road runs out. Once we run out of friends. Relatives.

The world simply becomes a place with which we're ever less familiar, and this is an experience which we're all guaranteed lest we solve the problem of human mortality by any means.

If you read the book, The Long Walk, then you're certainly amongst the most of fortunate of people to have read something that enlightens you early on to the concept of the fact that you'll one day arrive at the point where nobody alive, except the reflection of your own face, is of familiarity to you.

At that point, life becomes like an hour glass, where the sand that has passed through the hour glass is more than that left and death becomes more like a reunion with that which has already left you, rather than the loss of what is and could have been.

I honestly believe that this story is perhaps one of the most profound and moving stories I've read in my entire life.

So much so that after reading it, I even asked my own Father about it. Kind of like asking the person you idolize the most about the nature of mortality.

The answer he gave me was perhaps the most profound, as he told me the same thing I'm telling you. Yet, it was an answer that I could not understand at the time he gave it to me for he gave me that answer more than thirty years ago.

Thirty years later, and when I'm fifteen years older than he was when he gave me that answer, I can honestly tell you that I understand exactly what he meant.

The importance of what he said wasn't in what he said, but what he lived. And for any of us to understand, we simply have to live it.

However, in telling me, he shared a glimpse with me of knowledge I'd come to know.

The brilliance of The Long Walk is that like life, it cannot simply be told, in order to understand it.

It can be read and fathomed, but only just barely.

If you truly want to know it, it is something that can only be lived.

That is the Long Walk.

The walk of life.

Brian Joseph Johns

I hadn't read Stephen King for awhile and read Doctor Sleep about a year ago and decided to do the Bachman Files. Just finished The Long Walk (after Rage) and was confused by the ending. I wanted to know more about the society that created this "walk" as well as it was too vague for me and I am a bit more of a "literal" reader. That said, I know there was a lot more to this than just survival and comparing it to Rage....a lot of psychological writing about getting in somebody's head when they are faced with an impossible situation.

I think he saw the major as the jim jones of the government.

There are a lot of good ways to interpret it, but my thought is that he is hallucinating and has lost his mind. I don’t see how he would ever mentally come back from that, with the PTSD, survivor’s guilt, whatever likely permanent damage he’s done to his body. I can see how others think he is dying, I just don’t like to think of him dying right away after all that. It’s a bleak ending for him no matter what. It’s implied in the book none of the winners go on to have a good life.

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