Study Guide

Seven The Metronome

The Metronome

Tik Tok on the Clock

But the party don't … start. Ever. Detective Somerset's life is bleak.

Detective Somerset has trouble sleeping. Perhaps he's seen so much in his years as a police detective that he's too haunted to stay awake, or maybe he's just shopping for ShamWows and Snuggies on late-night infomercials. Whatever the reason, Somerset keeps a metronome beside his bed, and he falls asleep to its steady tick-tocking. (Does he wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy? Our guess is no.)

The metronome is regular, rhythmic, and predictable, everything the city is not. The ticking barely drowns out the noises of the city—dogs barking, people shouting, horns honking, car alarms blaring.

After the chat with Mills at the bar about halfway through the movie, when Somerset tells Mills his depressingly cynical view of the world and Mills disagrees, Mills returns home to his apartment and tells his wife that he loves her. Somerset returns home to his … metronome. He doesn't have anyone to say "I love you" to, and the metronome doesn't talk back.

So, Somerset chucks the metronome across the room and breaks it. Mills' wife is a living, breathing comfort (at least until Doe gets to her). Somerset's metronome is an artificial comfort. He breaks it when he realizes that he needs something real in his life, but he doesn't know exactly what that is.