Study Guide

Watchmen Chapter VI

By Alan Moore

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Chapter VI

The Abyss Gazes Also

  • Here we go. Now that Rorschach (a.k.a. Walter J. Kovacs) has been captured, we need a different journal to give us insight into his mind.
  • Cue the “Notes of Dr. Malcolm Long,” which begin just as the good doctor psychoanalyzes Rorschach for the first time (VI.1).
  • Over the years, Kovacs has ticked off the entire NYPD, and stuck boatloads of criminals behind bars. How is he supposed to survive a jail stint?
  • Perhaps more importantly, how did he end up this way? Flashback time.
  • Tell us Rorschach, what do you see in those inkblots?
  • Young Walt wakes up to the sounds of a man hurting his mom. Lo and behold, he discovers his mother’s a prostitute who wishes he’d never been born.
  • We return to the present, as Kovacs makes the long walk to his cell. The other inmates make grisly promises.
  • Back to young Walt, who is bullied by two older boys for being a “whoreson” (VI.6.8). In what will become typical Rorschach brutality, Walt puts out the first bully’s cigarette in his eye and bites the other boy’s cheek off.
  • He is 10 years old; the year is 1951.
  • Now it’s evening again on Oct. 25th, 1985, as Dr. Long works the Kovacs case from home. He has learned that young Walt was an exceptionally bright boy who showed no emotion at his mother’s murder in 1956.
  • Not only that, but Kovacs no longer exists; there is only Rorschach.
  • The next day, the jailed hero tells Dr. Long more of his story. We see young Walt working in a garment factory, where he discovers the fabric for his mask.
  • When the young woman who ordered that fabric is raped and killed outside her own apartment in 1964, Walt dons the mask for the first time.
  • Cut to the present. Rorschach calls out Dr. Long for spending so much time with him, just because he’s famous, when there are other patients who need more help.
  • In his entry from October 26th, Long closes the book on Rorschach, saying he’s just trying to compensate for his mother’s murder.
  • In line for breakfast at the mess hall, Rorschach fends off a shank attack from another inmate by throwing a vat of hot oil on his face.
  • Dr. Long is once again hooked on the case, which strains his relationship with his wife.
  • The following day, Rorschach recalls bringing down the Big Figure with Nite Owl (Dreiberg edition) in 1965. But the man has gone soft, unlike Rorschach, and unlike the Comedian, who he meets in 1966 at the inaugural Crimebusters meeting (see Chapters II and IV).
  • Meanwhile, Dr. Long’s marriage is on the rocks, and after stopping by the newsstand, he learns that the Soviets have marched into Pakistan.
  • On October 27th, Dr. Long reaches a breakthrough. Rorschach shares the story that turned Kovacs-in-a-costume into a living, breathing vengeance machine.
  • The year is 1975, and he’s tracking down Blair Roche, a kidnapped six-year-old girl. He winds up at an abandoned dressmaker’s in Brooklyn.
  • In the yard, two German shepherds fight over a bone. Rorschach realizes the bones are Blair’s. He picks up a meat cleaver, kills the dogs, and waits for the perpetrator, a man by the name of Gerald Grice.
  • Rorschach offers the man a Saw-style choice and burns down the building with Grice inside.
  • According to Rorschach, all there is in life is randomness, hellfire, and damnation.
  • Haha, fun, light reading, this Watchmen stuff
  • Walking home on October 28th, Dr. Long observes tempers flaring in the streets and on the front pages. The U.S. and the Soviets are on a collision course.
  • In the wake of all this, Dr. Long and his wife Gloria host a dinner party. It goes poorly, all because Rorschach has gotten inside Dr. Long’s head. Gloria walks out on him, and the reader is left with nothing but an empty panel.
  • Things aren’t looking up, let’s leave it at that.
  • Chapter Postscript: Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. –Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

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