Identity of the Sketchy Face


So, as Jenna had pointed out in our Monday lecture, there are pictures of a strange, sketchy, screaming face dispersed throughout the City of Glass graphic novel. It is actually on the cover page too, though broken right down the middle just like Quinn’s face on the other side of the cover (I have no idea what this means or if it means anything at all but after hearing Mr. Karasik explain his planning process I really doubt anything is unintentional).

The first time you see this face is on page 7, when Quinn talks about what attracts him to mysteries. He mentions that it is because everything is significant and purposeful, and therefore, “the center of the book… is everywhere”. Just like a center, this face really is everywhere in the book, leading readers to think that perhaps, it is a clue to figuring out this mystery of a novel.
The next time you see it, it is on page 33, just under the quote: “it did not help that his son’s name had also been Peter”. With the assumption that the face is a lighthouse for clues, it highlights Peter’s connection to his son (though I suppose even without the face it’s pretty obvious) and after the first time through the novel, you think, “oh, a loss of identity as Quinn the family man the first time his son is gone, then the loss of identity as detective Work the next time Jr. is gone.” Okay, private I and i removed, now only the eye of a writer remains, which even then is passed onto our mysterious narrator by the finale.

But the faces on 50 and 52 are absolute mysteries of their own. They are not even the same faces as the other ones. They are completely different, where the one on page 50 has a nose and eyebrows and 52 has an expression. What could it mean? What is it trying to highlight? Perhaps the more human-like p.50, where it stands alongside actual characters, is to show how the sound of the train changes to the “language of God” only Stillman Jr. understands. Maybe the language of God being made by something inhumane yet still filled and surrounded by humans mean something to the novel. But what about 52? An expression to show Quinn’s quiet and detached resentment for Stillman Sr.?

The next, 104, is under the quote: “wherever I am not is the place where I am myself.” It sums up Quinn, the man who’s identity is built on layers and layers of fake, fictional characters.

The but not least is page 119, where the face is shown to be flipped when Auster announces Stillman Sr.’s death. It is a literal shift of the center of the book as it was mentioned at the start. Quinn can no longer play the part of the detective and the book is no longer about protecting Stillman Jr. With that, the question is asked again: what is the face? If not a clue to the solving the novel as its own mystery, is it actually a part of said mystery? Perhaps a part of its identity?

Who knows. Maybe all of this is to point back at its introduction: that everything is significant, and even when it isn’t, it has potential–therefore, it has purpose.

This post itself is pretty all over the place. Let me know if you can figure this mystery out, or make something out of it.

One thought on “Identity of the Sketchy Face

  1. Oh, good point about connecting the face to the idea of the centre being everywhere. Not sure why I didn’t catch that, given that it’s said right above the first instance of the face! I do think that it seems to be crying out to be the centre, the key to something. That’s why it’s drawing so many of us in.

    Our discussion today in class pulled me more towards the face representing something about Quinn’s emotions, perhaps those he can’t even admit/recognize. If we go there then the one on p. 52 makes sense as his own anger at Stillman Sr. (I interpret that one as an angry face). And the one on p. 119 could be an emotional reaction to hearing that the case is over and he has accomplished nothing. I hadn’t paid attention to how its orientation is flipped, but it does make sense that it would be pointing backwards to earlier in the book if he is upset or somehow is connecting himself back to when he was working on the case.

    The one on p. 50 still puzzles me though. That whole image puzzles me. I was thinking perhaps it’s like what Quinn might see if he were looking at himself in the reflections of train windows going by…he would see multiple images of himself in sequence as the windows passed, maybe some clearer than others due to the nature of the windows. If that’s the case then the face on the far right could be connected to him and maybe he could recognize it if he paid enough attention. But honestly, I’m still puzzled.

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