Tuesday, December 3, 2002

What's up with Enoch Root?

That’s it, I’ve got to read Cryptonomicon again –

From CafeauLait.org:

How did Enoch Root come back from the dead? He dies in Sweden in 1944 on on p. 541 when “the only other people in the room are Rudolf von Hackelheber, Bobby Shaftoe, and the Swedish doctor.” Then, 55 years later, Enoch Root shows up again on p. 784 in a Philippine jail. Now this could be a different person using the same name, but on p. 850 back in 1945, Rudolf von Hackelheber (who saw Root die) is informed that Root is alive and well in the Philippines and doesn’t seem to be at all surprised. Others such as as Otto and Bischoff, who didn’t see Root die but who were informed of his death, are equally unsurprised. Then on p. 860 Root shows up again, alive and well in 1945 at Shaftoe’s funeral. On p. 878 et seq., we find out that Rudolf von Hackelheber is at that funeral too, and has been in communication with Root. If this is an imposter Root, this makes no impression on Hackelheber.

Does anyone want to take a stab at explaining this? How did Root come back from the dead? Was someone else killed in his place? Does he have a twin brother? Has he magically risen from the dead? Is there any clue what’s going on here? Or did Stephenson just screw up and forget he’d killed Root off back on p. 541? None of the explanations I’ve come up with make any sense at all.

Thanks to Evan Williams for the pointer.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry if this has been previously answered.

    Root's death is faked. I forget the details because it's been months since I read the book, but on the following page "[Rudy] and another man walk out of the offive... the other man is wrapped in a blanket that covers even his head." (542)

    The details of why his death was faked escape me, but Stephenson's dramatic "When Enoch Root dies, the only other people in the room are..." is really saying that these are the only people who can attest to his apparent death. Imagine quotation marks around "dies."