Study Guide

The Man in the High Castle Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Philip K. Dick

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Yeah, it sounds weird to call this a comedy since we don't laugh too much at Nazis (okay, except for this, of course). But comedy here mostly means that we move from bad to good—from confusion and ignorance to knowledge.

The Shadow of Ignorance

Just about all of our five main characters starts out in some ignorance or bad situation. Childan starts out as a confused dude. He's prejudiced against the Japanese, but also very envious of them, and very subservient. Tagomi starts out a little uncomfortable because he doesn't know who Baynes is. Baynes starts out fearing for his life and not knowing where his contact from Japan is. Juliana Frink isn't so happy with her current life and she doesn't know who Joe Cinnadella really is. And Frank Frink starts a new business by blackmailing his old boss, without realizing how that decision will come around to get him.

The Shadow Deepens

People may start out the book being a little ignorant, but then they get really into some bad trouble. Childan almost ruins his relationship with the Kasouras and nearly allows the Edfrank jewelry to be exploited. Frank's business goes nowhere and he gets arrested. Juliana Frink realizes Joe is a dangerous assassin—which only kind of helps her. (Knowing may be half the battle, but it's still only half. There's the whole other half to fight.) Baynes is attacked by German agents because he got too anxious to wait. And Tagomi survives the German attack but ends up in a deep crisis over killing some people.

Light and Knowledge

But all comedies end with ignorance banished. So here, Childan achieves the closest thing to enlightenment he can: he recognizes the value of American artwork. (We think he even becomes less racist and less fawning towards the Japanese, but that's an argument for Childan's "Characters" page.) Frank gets freed and goes back to doing what he does best: jewelry. Baynes succeeds in his mission (though he's not sure if that will stop a war between Germany and Japan). Tagomi learns that this timeline is only one possibility and he takes a stand against Nazi Germany by freeing Frank Frink. And Juliana learns that there's another timeline out there that's even more true than what she's living through. Whew, that's a lot of enlightenment.

But let's be honest: there's still a lot of uncertainty here, and a lot of ignorance. Tagomi may have seen another world, which is nice, but then he also had a heart attack, which is less nice. Juliana may also have this moment of enlightenment, but we have no idea what she's going to do with it. And no one knows if Germany and Japan will get into World War III and destroy most of the world. This isn't the kind of comedy you laugh out loud about.

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