The Hanging Man: a response to Fortune Telling by Kyra Krasowski

Link to Fortune Telling:

Within each of us, there is another whom we do not know

The above quote by psychologist Carl Jung seems appropriate while on the discussion of Tarot cards. The blog by Kyra on the subject was outstanding and I encourage you all to read it before continuing on to my post. Her take on how the cards Death, the Fool, and the High Priestess apply to characters in Zone One inspired me to look into the meanings of other tarot cards to see if and how they might fit into the novel’s dramatic conclusion.

Concerning the man known only to readers as Mark Spitz, two cards in particular stood out. Unsurprising to readers familiar with him, Mark represents strength, both the tarot card and the characteristic as most people know it. Strength is traditionally interpreted in tarots to “[represent] nature, which, however wild in its primal form, is tamed by our subtler, finer self.” ( Mark is a survivor, through and through. Where most of the world perished at the hands of the dead or to the cruel machinations of the living, Mark was able to find his way. More impressively, he did so without resorting to savagery. As far as we readers can tell, he neither resorted to the loathsome behavior of Gary and his “old bandit cronies” (Whitehead, 281) nor the nihilistic behavior of “college-sophomore socialists” who sought to hasten the end of the world at the expense of those still struggling to survive. (Whitehead, 153) For a brief time, he was even able to form a relationship with another survivor, Miriam Cohen Levy. Where other, less scrupulous individuals may have stolen her supplies, killed her, or worse, he was able of forming a genuine bond in a world made numb by systemic horror and cruelty. (Whitehead, 150)

Mark’s second card struck me as a rather grim irony, for it is the card of The Hanged Man. However, this card does not focus on wrongful death or injustice, like the victims of lynching. Instead it is symbolizes by a man stuck in the air, dangling by his foot; he is unable to free himself and is unable to proceed until the situation has resolved itself or another can come along and free him. In a way, Mark faces suck a situation at the end of the novel: he is alone, trapped inside with no avenue of egress except through the horde of the dead. Traditionally, the card also symbolizes a time of self-reflection, “to study and meditate upon the position you find yourself in, and to form resolutions for the moment you become free again.” ( his final moments before the novel’s conclusion, Mark finds himself meditating on his circumstances. Even in the face of almost certain death he is preparing to survive, tightening his helmet, planning what to do next, and readying himself for the horde. (Whitehead, 322)

As always I would love to hear from others what they think. I would like to thank Kyra for her wonderful post and for inspiring me to write mine. Good luck on the rest of your posts everyone!

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