Study Guide

Watchmen Locks and Knots

By Alan Moore

Locks and Knots

After Rorschach breaks into Dreiberg’s apartment, Dan hires the Gordian Knot Lock Company to install an upgrade (III.8.1). That minor scene turns into one of the book’s running jokes, as Rorschach stops by later to tell him, “by the way, you need a stronger lock. That new one broke after one shove” (III.24.7). In a mystery like Watchmen (see the “Genre” section), the plot is all gnarled up, and it’s the detective’s job to pick it or slice it open.

That means it’s the villain’s job to set traps, to tie things up so the hero[es] can’t escape. But in Watchmen, the big baddy, Adrian Veidt, wants to have it both ways. His numero uno quest as a youngster? To one-up Alexander the Great. He tells an old story about the original Gordian Knot, which no one could ever untie until Emperor Alex rolled by and sliced it with his sword. In that same way, Veidt seeks to cut through the Cold War stalemate by changing the rules of the game.