Jake Chambers

Character history

Beginnings

Born in New York, Jake Chambers is the son of Elmer Chambers, a television advertising executive. At times, Jake didn’t feel close to his father, who always expected the best in grades – and all else – from him. Jake instead forms a close relationship with his housekeeper, Greta Shaw (who nicknamed him “‘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 second 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 Dark Tower II: 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 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. What is perhaps more impressive is his ability to think and calculate strategies like the other members of the Ka-Tet despite his age. In this regard, like the rest of Roland’s companions, Jake is considered a valued member of the group and equally deadly to any of his gunslinger peers.

Due to the shortage of firearms the gunslinger’s faced at times, Jake was one of the first to embrace the “Riza” throwing weapon in Calla Bryn Sturgis. The weapon resembled a dinner plate with a razor’s edge on all sides, save for two inches spared for gripping it. Having shown both a quick aptitude and deadly precision (he was easily able to cleave an apple in half sitting on a full-grown person’s head), Jake continued to carry them as a backup weapon even when the Ka-Tet eventually encountered more firearms. Roland later noted that Jake’s battle cry when throwing the Rizas was every bit as ferocious as a gunslinger in the heat of battle, distinguishing the young man’s professionalism regardless of weapon.

This ferocity is balanced by an inner kindness. Jake is the character that seems to bring out the best in others. While Eddie tends to take life too casually, Susannah too often focuses on introspection, and Roland hangs on to the guilt of his past, Jake is the one member of the group that seems to help them ease into their most positive qualities. Mentoring Jake helped Eddie grow into the role of bigger brother, listening to Susannah helped her focus on others, and returning from the dead helped Roland let go of some of his past guilt. Later, it is Jake who accompanies Father Callahan and witnesses his final act of redemption. During Jake’s impromptu funeral and eulogy, Roland admits that he feels the loss of Jake harder than the others (including his old gunslinger mates) because of what Jake meant to him.

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