Study Guide

Watchmen Rules and Order

By Alan Moore

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Rules and Order

“I dunno. I think you take this vigilante stuff too seriously. Since the Keene Act was passed in ‘77, only the Government-sponsored weirdos are active” (I.4.5).

Vigilantes are bad, but vigilance is good. Try and explain that one.

“What are you doing here, Rorschach? This is a Government base and I hear you’re wanted by the police?” (I.20.2).

Does Rorschach have to break the law in order to uphold justice?

Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this (I.24.6).

Even his mask is black and white. Unfortunately, Rorschach lives in a gray world.

“Until then, we’re society’s only protection. We keep it up as long as we have to” (II.17.5).

What would happen if the police department in your town/city went on strike?

The newspapers call me a crimefighter, so the Pentagon says I must fight crime (IV.14.2).

Why does Dr. Manhattan ever take orders from anybody? Look, over there, a gaping plot hole… or is it? He used to be a regular old human, after all. Is his willingness to follow orders despite the fact that he most definitely could be bossing folks around a commentary on human nature and our desire for order and rules?

“Once a man has seen, he can never turn his back on it. Never pretend it doesn’t exist. No matter who orders him to look the other way" (VI.15.5).

When you find out what “it” is, please let us know. Maybe the illustrations hold a clue.

Yet what are laws made for, if not to serve mankind? And if those laws through unforeseen circumstances become no longer applicable, is it not more noble to follow the course of right and justice; to serve the spirit of the law rather than its every dot and comma? (Chapter H.2).

Martin Luther King Jr. once said something similar. Otherwise, he and Mr. Godfrey might not get along so well.

“Some of us have always lived on edge, Daniel. It is possible to survive there if you observe the rules. Just hang on by fingernails and never look down" (X.5.6).

Rorschach could spend more time learning the rules, the rules of grammar. Why does he speak in such a clipped way?

“Give me smallest finger on man’s hand. I’ll produce information. Computer unnecessary” (X.9.3).

Walter Kovacs would never TiVo CSI: New York, let’s put it that way. For him, scientific evidence is overrated.

“Merely suggesting that by finding mask killer, can have revenge for Mason’s death. Meant to comfort you” (X.16.7).

Rorschach clearly hasn’t studied up on Gandhi: an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

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