Who is who in City of Glass?

Hello everyone!

Last book, last essay last blog post- we’re coming to a bittersweet end.

Anyways, I have some thoughts. Not a lot, but some. On Wednesday, Zach and I were kind of talking about why Auster put himself in his book as a character. I (somewhat jokingly) asked “is he really that narcissistic?”, and Zach said something along the lines of (sorry bud, I don’t remember exactly) Auster’s in there to make you think. So I did think. A lot. Aaand the best that I could come up with is that Auster is in the book so that he can detach the narrator from himself. By interacting with the narrator, it confirms that the narrator must be someone else.

Like I said in seminar today, I think that the narrator is Quinn himself. I know that Christina already thinks this/ has a blog post about it, and I did talk about it in seminar today, so I don’t have anything new to contribute. But here are some things that I’ll try to convince you with

  • The narrator knows stuff that came before Quinn bought the notebook
  • Maybe he ‘later forgot’ the dreams because he is no longer Quinn- (this is a bit of a stretch, but) because Quinn doesn’t exist anymore he can’t remember his dreams, but the new Quinn, being the narrator, knows about them because he does remember them, but because he’s not Quinn he doesn’t realize why he knows about them??????? (I’ve just confused myself, really)
  • It would explain why he cares so much at the end, and is super mad at Auster for not doing anything to help him
  • Quinn’s body is never found, so it’s not like he died- he just became someone else

We also mentioned the Stillman Sr. dopplegängers today, and how in lecture it was suggested that both of them could have been Stillman. I don’t have any textual evidence to back this up, so it’s more of a personal fantasy. While I was reading the book for the first time last weekend, I also thought that both could be Stillman. There’s a part in the novel (I’ll put the actual quote and page number in when I get home, as I am currently writing this without the book on me), where the narrator says something about Daniel imagining Mrs. Stillman naked is not the only mistake he made? I thought that maybe he picked the wrong Stillman, so he went down the wrong timeline. If he had picked the other one, because he’s all shiny and clean, maybe he would have lived a proper detective story.

1 thought on “Who is who in City of Glass?

  1. Christina Hendricks

    Interesting point about why Auster put himself in the book, as (at least in part?) a way to detach the narrator from himself. Of course, I already think it makes sense to consider the narrator as Quinn in another identity, so I don’t need to be convinced!

    There is also the fact that in the graphic novel the last sentence, which is spoken by the narrator in Auster’s novel, is put into the notebook. Whereas the narrator had been given a typeface font, the narrator’s last sentence goes back into the style of Quinn’s notebook, suggesting the narrator is connected to Quinn.

    I also like your reading of Quinn making other mistakes, and maybe it was picking the wrong Stillman. That’s certainly a plausible reading. I remember being puzzled by what other “mistakes” could be referred to there. I suppose one might come up with some other options like maybe pretending to be Stillman Sr’s son could have led to the former disappearing and eventually killing himself (he says he can now die happy after talking to his son), or perhaps thinking of the busy phone signal as a sign that he shouldn’t give up the case. But following the wrong Stillman Sr. could certainly be one too, and it’s more interesting!


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