Study Guide

Watchmen Transformation

By Alan Moore

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“Oh, I put him away a dozen times in the Forties, but he reformed and turned to Jesus since then. Married, got two kids, we traded addresses. Nice guy” (I.9.2).

If the Screaming Skull can become a born-again Christian, well, all bets are off. Why does Moore include this snippet in the very first chapter?

“I’m just scared because everything feels weird. It’s as if everything’s changed. Not just you: everything!” (IV.11.6).

Without change, it’s hard to create conflict. And without that, you end up with this. (Yup, we wave our nerd flags high around here.)

“It would have been like joining the Knights of the Round Table; being part of a fellowship of legendary beings” (VII.8.4).

Enter Sigmund Freud, stage left. “Dreams are all about transformation and wish fulfillment,” he says, before lighting up a cigar.

“I’d hoped tonight might wake something inside you, but it sounds like it’s awoken with an appetite” (VII.28.6).

Each character in Watchmen undergoes a transformation, maybe even Rorschach.

“My mother, she eroded my adolescence, chipping me into the shape she’d have been if she hadn’t had me” (IX.14.3).

Tell us about it. Name a more relatable character than Laurie Jupiter… or Laurie Juspeczyk, as she’d prefer to be called, thankyouverymuch.

“In each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds […] until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union [...] it was you, only you, that emerged” (IX.26.5).

Evolution becomes even more beautiful and complicated when you add human nature to the mix.

"We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take our breath away” (IX.27.3).

Maybe that’s why the bearded one offers up so many first-person narrators: Rorschach’s journal, Dr. Long’s notes, and all the mini-chapters.

So, in conclusion, welcome to the Veidt Method for physical fitness and self-improvement […] I hope you’ll be intrigued by what you find within, and I know that if you persevere you’ll walk away from this book a different person (Chapter J.4).

The best advertising goes right for the jugular, like you’re not good enough, so here’s X to turn you into Y.

Gradually, I understood what innocent intent had brought me to, and, understanding, waded out beyond my depth […] The world I’d tried to save was lost beyond recall. I was a horror: amongst horrors must I dwell (XI.13.4, XI.23.1).

Not all transformation is good. Just ask the marooned sailor in Tales from the Black Freighter.

“Nobody’s allowed to say bad things about our good ol’ buddies the Russians anymore” (XII.32.3).

Moore imagines the end of the Cold War four years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Can there be transformation (in people at least) without imagination?

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