Study Guide

Blood Red Road Power

By Moira Young


Chapter 4

Fer the first time, I notice his hands an wrists is covered all over with ugly purple burn scars. (4.494)

Saba and Emmi aren't the only victims of Miz Pinch—her own husband seems to be imprisoned, abused, and tortured by her. Talk about not taking your vows seriously.

Every time you disobey me, she says, every time you try to git away, I'm gonna hit yer little sister. Hit her or...burn her. (4.411)

Miz Pinch is one rough character. While Mr. Pinch is little more than a bumbling fool, Miz Pinch is a bona fide sadist who's willing to do anything if it gets her what she wants. Which is usually cash. No wonder she had such a jerk of a son.

There are some people—very few, mind you—who still have the knowledge of words and books. (4.313)

Although we don't know that Rooster Pinch is the King's father at this point, this passage raises an interesting question. Do you think Rooster's ability to read helped his son reach such insane heights of power?

Chapter 5

There's partly et food spread out all over the table in a big mess—flatbread an platters of roast meat an boiled pigeon eggs an jugs of grog. (5.51)

This is quite the image of decadence, especially when you contrast it with the meager homestead where Saba and Emmi grew up. Hopetown is a place where the powerful have a lot and the weak have nothing, except for some chaal cravings and a hankering for cage combat.

Chapter 6

The Tonton round people up, take 'em to Freedom Fields as slaves an force 'em to work in the fields.

And they control 'em with chaal, I says. (6.128-129)

As it happens, chaal is the most important part of this world's power structure. In fact, the King only has his status because he controls the chaal trade. It's that simple. He uses the drug to control the masses, bending them to his will and keeping them always coming back for more.

I don't believe it. It's the man from Rooster Pinch's book. He stand in the doorway with his walkin stick. Just like the picture in the book. (6.327)

Here, Saba is referring to the image of King Louis XIV she saw in Rooster Pinch's book, which Vicar Pinch has immaculately recreated for his own regal garb. It's pretty much just cosplay. Still, it's a powerfully symbolic way of connecting him to a powerful king from ancient times; it's all about the propaganda.

Chapter 8

An over the last couple of years, he started exapandin his empire. Everywhere I bin lately, I'm havin to dodge Tonton or I'm hearin about 'em. (8.809)

Apparently, the King has only been expanding his power in recent years, as the chaal trade has spread throughout the land. Unfortunately, now that this process has begun, it's going to be hard to stop it again—even if they manage to take the King out.

Sometimes the Tonton hang you, other times they'll cut her head off an put it on a spike. (8.749)

We wouldn't call that a warm welcome, would you? As Saba and company get closer to the Freedom Fields—the King's home base—they see increasingly disturbing evidence of Tonton power.

Chapter 9

I train the looker on Pinch. He's ridin a big white stallion. An he's dressed like he was last night. [...] But it hangs down in burnt an tattered shreds. (9.613)

That's some symbolism if we've ever seen it. With his chaal fields destroyed, the King still holds on to the vestiges of his status, but he no longer has power over the masses. In the same way, we see his fancy regal robes torn to unrecognizable shreds. We'd almost feel bad—if the dude weren't, you know, a monster.

DeMalo stands in front of me. He drops my bow and quiver at my feet.

What...what are you doing? asks Pinch. (9.762-763)

DeMalo is a tough dude to pin down. Saba feels simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by him, but even she is shocked when he abandons the King in his moment of need, allowing the good guys to get a much needed win. Hmm. Bet we're going to learn more about this dude in the sequel.