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 Post subject: Flashlight stops working, and other things...

After I viewed the tape in the hotel, and left the room, I found it a bit strange that the flashlight doesn't work, why is this? Did the battery die out again or does this symbolize something, any thoughts?

I also found it strange that James' version of the otherworld is often wet and involves dripping substances(I hope it's water), but I can't figure out what this symbolizes, if anything, it contrasts with Angela's otherworld view which is interesting but I still can't figure out what exactly this means. Anyone willing to shed some light on this topic??


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RESPECT
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Missing since: 19 Jul 2003
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Where did you find the flashlight? and what (or who) was holding it?

Now, what (or who) was James' "guiding light" during the story?

Now, what happened to James after watching the videotape, and why would the flashlight stop working?

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Historical Society Historian
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I'd say it symbolizes how James' only hope (finding Mary) has basically been snuffed out.

I would also say that all the water symbolizes feelings of 'drowning in despair' and being overwhelmed by his grief and guilt, though others might choose to say it's a not so subtle way of saying that In Water is the true ending. I just think it's a nice effect.

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Woodside Apartments Janitor
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TheRedOne wrote:
Did the battery die out again

Yeah, it died out again. But this time, there aren't any more back-up batteries. And...

Quote:
or does this symbolize something, any thoughts?

it does symbolize something. Answer Mockingbird's questions. You'll have a good idea of the symbolism behind it then.

Krist. wrote:
I would also say that all the water symbolizes feelings of 'drowning in despair' and being overwhelmed by his grief and guilt

I'm behind this explanation, too.


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RESPECT
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Water: Think of what it means in literature. It is a cleansing. In the Japanese creation myth, after Izanami died and shut herself in the cave, Izanagi--having seen his dead wife/sister's body--went to a stream and bathed himself, in a spiritual cleansing, because contact w/ the dead is considered a "ritual fault."

You can read about it in detail here, in my totally awesome thread about water.

Water--being submerged in water, or in rain, &c.--implies a character's "cleansing," or baptism. James, on the other hand, never experiences an actual submergence until the end of his story, when he absolves himself of his sins. The fact that there's an exorbitant amount of water in Silent Hill 2, yet James is never doused in it, suggests that he cannot be "purified" until he takes his final plunge, that he cannot be absolved of his sins until he understands why he needs to be.

And so, when he learns the truth in Lakeview Hotel, it is flooded, and dripping, and allowing him to finally be cleansed.

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Historical Society Historian
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^ That reminded me of something... Travel over water is actually also a very symbolic bit in literature - it's generally a passage akin to a 'trial/tribulation' or a 'quest.'

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Woodside Apartments Janitor
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^^Wow, Thomas, that was hella interesting. While I'm still behind the dripping water symbolizing despair and grief, this is definitely an explanation I'm considering. I definitely want to look more into East Asian mythology (and mythology in general, I guess).

Krist. wrote:
That reminded me of something... Travel over water is actually also a very symbolic bit in literature - it's generally a passage akin to a 'trial/tribulation' or a 'quest.'

That reminds me of something, too. I think I remember someone posting (or even making an entire thread?) about James' whole ordeal of crossing Toluca lake. They were casting the light as a symbol of guidance (or hope) in an otherwise befuddling situation.

Much like James' whole trial or quest throughout the game. Except switch "light" out for "flashlight".


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Historical Society Historian
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Also, in the end he walks away from the water. You have two choice, be submerged in the dark (unclean guilt) water or rise up the stairs and confront Mary/Maria.

As stated before, water has many meanings, most noteably its connection with creation myths, as pointed out by Mockingbird. I am more familiar with the Egyptian creation myth of Nun, the River of Chaos in which all was born. But also, water destroys hope, for it smufs out fire. Fire is a symbol of life because of the light and warmth. And light is symbolic of hope. So the waterms presence, in itself, is trying to smuff out James hope of finding Mary alive and well.

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 Post subject:

Mockingbird wrote:
Where did you find the flashlight? and what (or who) was holding it?

Now, what (or who) was James' "guiding light" during the story?

Now, what happened to James after watching the videotape, and why would the flashlight stop working?


This does seem to make the most sense, and I also would like to say that your theories on water and its meaning are all interesting and thought-provoking as well. But yes, your theory on Mary being his guiding light(even though she was dead) makes the most sense, I guess I just never thought of it in that way, even after beating the game 4 times. :)


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Rosewater Park Attendant
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Wow... just when you think you've found all of the symbolism buried in this game, something else surfaces (no pun intended).


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Just Passing Through
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Mockingbird wrote:
Water: Think of what it means in literature. It is a cleansing. In the Japanese creation myth, after Izanami died and shut herself in the cave, Izanagi--having seen his dead wife/sister's body--went to a stream and bathed himself, in a spiritual cleansing, because contact w/ the dead is considered a "ritual fault."

You can read about it in detail here, in my totally awesome thread about water.

Water--being submerged in water, or in rain, &c.--implies a character's "cleansing," or baptism. James, on the other hand, never experiences an actual submergence until the end of his story, when he absolves himself of his sins. The fact that there's an exorbitant amount of water in Silent Hill 2, yet James is never doused in it, suggests that he cannot be "purified" until he takes his final plunge, that he cannot be absolved of his sins until he understands why he needs to be.

And so, when he learns the truth in Lakeview Hotel, it is flooded, and dripping, and allowing him to finally be cleansed.


So what about all the water in the maze and similar places during the prison stage of the game?


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Just Passing Through
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Mockingbird wrote:
Water--being submerged in water, or in rain, &c.--implies a character's "cleansing," or baptism. James, on the other hand, never experiences an actual submergence until the end of his story, when he absolves himself of his sins. The fact that there's an exorbitant amount of water in Silent Hill 2, yet James is never doused in it, suggests that he cannot be "purified" until he takes his final plunge, that he cannot be absolved of his sins until he understands why he needs to be.

And so, when he learns the truth in Lakeview Hotel, it is flooded, and dripping, and allowing him to finally be cleansed.


Also note that in the first fight with Pyramid Head, when Pyramid Head decides(?) to leave, he does so by climbing down the flooded staircase. James on the other hand won't follow until it drains out. Obviously fear of scary monsters and general wetness would prevent him from marching right into the pool with Pyramid Head, but I think it's relevant that that scene takes place long before he begins to accept his guilt.

Nabriales wrote:
So what about all the water in the maze and similar places during the prison stage of the game?


He's only ever half submerged, at most, until the "In Water" ending. In the Abyss, the point when things get truly strange, it goes up to his knees. In the hotel, after he's remembered what he's done, it's to his chest (if i recall correctly). I like where this is going.



Regarding the flashlight: perhaps the fact that it dies out momentarily in the Abyss represents James' fading hope. The whole "'Tis doubt that leadeth thee to Purgatory" key thing probably relates to this, but I'm not sure if that's been discussed before. Maybe there's some symbolism in the "battery" (i kinda doubt it's really a battery) and the place you find it, too, but beats me.


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Historical Society Historian
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It's not up to his chest in the hotel. In the prison it's only around his ankles - in the hotel it's around his knees.

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Cafe5to2 Waitress
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Wow, Thomas. Excellent analysis.

I like the parallel between the light being found on Mary's clothes and Mary being James' proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Used in that sense, one could go further to state that it indicates a kind of damnation of James' soul; we are often told that, upon death, the righteous are guided by a light to paradise. If there is no light for James at the end of his journey, the indication would be, then, that he is damned for his sins-- a possible indicator of Maria, In the Water, or Rebirth being the canonical endings, as each presents a varying degree of damnation and/or torment.


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Woodside Apartments Janitor
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abrasive wrote:
The whole "'Tis doubt that leadeth thee to Purgatory" key thing probably relates to this, but I'm not sure if that's been discussed before. Maybe there's some symbolism in the "battery" (i kinda doubt it's really a battery) and the place you find it, too, but beats me.

I don't have any doubts that the battery carries heavy symbolic meaning. Think of where the dry-cell battery was found. There were hands painted on the wall reaching for something, namely the hole containing the battery. James also comments on the hands, attributing them to a symbol of pain. I put the two explanations together, actually.

I also don't doubt that it's a real battery, either. If it wasn't real, it wouldn't be able to work on the flashlight, which was also real.

That said, I think of the backup battery symbolizing a renewal of hope. You quoted the spiral-key lettering "'Tis doubt which leadeth thee to purgatory." When James' flashlight went out, it's almost as if he was doubting himself. He uses the dry-cell battery to renew the power and turn the flashlight back on, and on a metaphorical level, to renew his "light of hope."


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Brookhaven Receptionist
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Perhaps with his comments on pain being connected to the battery, we can observe a connection that goes something like "through pain and suffering we achieve illumination." After all, he also says he needed the Red Pyramid Things to punish him for his sins, which in turn eventually leads him to his acceptance and enlightenment.

Edit: come to think of it, this applies to 3 as well. In the "lead us to Paradise with bloodstained hands" business. Enlightenment, illumination, etcetera following pain and suffering. Also sounds like an extension of the Christian reasoning, with the suffering of one making way for everyone else to achieve grace.


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 Post subject:

Adrasteia wrote:
Perhaps with his comments on pain being connected to the battery, we can observe a connection that goes something like "through pain and suffering we achieve illumination." After all, he also says he needed the Red Pyramid Things to punish him for his sins, which in turn eventually leads him to his acceptance and enlightenment.

Edit: come to think of it, this applies to 3 as well. In the "lead us to Paradise with bloodstained hands" business. Enlightenment, illumination, etcetera following pain and suffering. Also sounds like an extension of the Christian reasoning, with the suffering of one making way for everyone else to achieve grace.


Hmmm, very thought provoking, this really makes me feel like playing the game again. In fact, I think I will!


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Rosewater Park Attendant
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QUOTE: If there is no light for James at the end of his journey, the indication would be, then, that he is damned for his sins-- a possible indicator of Maria, In the Water, or Rebirth being the canonical endings, as each presents a varying degree of damnation and/or torment.

I think that that's taking it a bit far. I prefer the idea that the light represents James' hope for finding Mary, and it goes out forever when that hope is erased. In any case, if those three endings are all canonical, then leave must be canonical as well: Death (W), Madness (M), and Damnation (R) are then counterbalanced by Hope (L).


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