Rob of the Fog

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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:03 am

To summarise what I'd like to discuss with a question, do you think that the 'real' letter that James receives from Mary is actually real (ie. written by Mary before her death) and, regardless of whether you do or not, how do you come to your conclusion?

Whether you do or not, I feel raises several questions that are difficult to answer. The beautiful (and frustrating) thing about the franchise’s second instalment is that everything is so intricately linked that to change one part of your interpretation of the events in the town is to alter your fundamental understanding of the very nature of the town’s power.

I believe the crucial part of the second letter, which makes its existence so important is that it starts exactly the same way as James' first manifested letter. Both begin, In my restless dreams, - Waiting for you...”. Identical word-for-word, and then Mary’s real letter continues, “Waiting for you to come and see me.”
One could simply shrug this off as poetic symmetry, but considering the time the team spent on building the layers of the story, I doubt this was done for aesthetics alone.

I shall try to keep what I feel the letter being real or a manifestation might signify to concise bullet-points. (A pros draft was nearly 1000 words!)

To assume that Mary’s second letter is real, one may have to posit that:

-James’ final interaction with Mary was an exchange between two consciousnesses (either real Mary’s spirit or what the town may interpret as her spirit), not an elaborate representation of James’ thoughts.
-This spirit is likely able to interact with the town or manipulate the towns power - Perhaps making Laura lose the letter and then acquiring it themselves.
-Laura is likely a real living person and was perhaps called to the town through Mary (possibly the town’s interpretation of Mary’s will but then it should have no memory of Laura through Mary, unless Mary was at Brookhaven for a short stay.)
-Either the town, ‘knowing’ Mary’s will/emotions or Mary’s actual spirit had a hand in writing James’ first letter, as the wording seems too similar to be coincidence.
-Ghosts are able to interact with the town and vice versa (town making ghosts from mental imprint of those with an affinity for the power), would explain Walter’s post-mortem existence as well as Ernest & Mary, if 'Born From A Wish' is to be considered canon.

To assume that Mary’s second letter is a manifestation, one may have to posit that:

-Laura is also a manifestation. Why would a real girl think she is in possession of a letter that doesn't exist. Would also be curious as to why she appears to both Eddie and James if this is the case, also seems strange for Maria, a manifestation of James’ memories of and desires for Mary, to be so flustered about protecting her.
-If Laura is real, and the letter (and Mary’s ability to interact with the town’s current denizens) is NOT, then it seems strange that Laura would be willing to leave the town with James in the ‘Leave’ ending, considering only a few moments before this, she discovers that James has murdered the closest thing to a mother she knew.
-If the letter and ‘sick-bed’ Mary are manifestations of James’ psyche, then I feel this calls into question the nature of every other ‘ghost’ we see in the Silent Hill universe, including Walter (his being a ghost in possession of will seems integral to SH4’s story).


In summary, I feel if the ‘Leave’ ending is to be taken seriously (which I'd like to do as it is my favourite) with Mary's letter being real, then it may be implied that Laura is real and an exchange between her and Mary may have taken place in which Mary convinces Laura to forgive James as she had, making her accept leaving town with a man who killed the closest person she had to a mother, and that Mary or at least a projection of what the town 'remembers' of her combined with information from James' memories was likely able to interact with some or all of the realities of the town (acquiring the letter), similar perhaps to Lisa Garland dragging Kaufmann to his seemingly grim fate at the end of the first game.

Sorry for the length of my rambling, but I’d love to discuss this with other overly-obsessed people as musing on the story by myself is driving me crazy!! If you made it through it all, thanks for reading! Bet I’ve left something out after all that too! Doh!
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by what on Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:16 am

I'm sure that both the letter and Laura are real.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Rob of the Fog

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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:55 am

what wrote:I'm sure that both the letter and Laura are real.


This is what I'm inclined to believe as well. But, how then, do you explain that both letters begin in an identical manner when one is supposedly a construct of James' mind and the other is an actual letter written by his wife before she died, which he likely had no prior knowledge of?

Going by this assumption makes me suspect that the power of the town, when not being actively manipulated by living people, is inclined to draw those it has had contact with into its area of effect and provide them with an opportunity for catharsis and 'personal redemption'. If so, I don't think it has a will beyond that, it seemed to 'give up' on Eddie and Angela without much 'complaint'.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by what on Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:04 am

The letter James starts with is certainly a construct, but not of his mind. Mary, or her memory or spirit or what have you, has some subtle but significant influence over some of the things James sees in his experience, things James could not possibly know such as Maria's borrowed memories or the entirety of Mary's anguish after we hear her angrily evicting James out of her hospital room in that vocal flashback near the end of the game, and how some of the monsters reflect her experiences rather than his. The excerpt of the letter James has is like that. James thinks he got this letter and followed its instructions to come to town, but its disappearance near the end of the game shows that this is not true, that it did not ever actually exist except as part of his delusion.

Laura tells exactly how she got this letter: She stole it (and the one addressed to her) from the nurse's locker. No supernatural explanation for this is necessary.

James came to town to kill himself in a place of memories. Whether this indicates a coincidence or the very sublime long-distance draw of the town's powers is up for grabs.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:59 am

That all makes a lot of sense and I agree with nearly all of it (though I think Mary's speech in the 'Long Corridor' possibly reflects how James acted during Mary's illness based on the player's actions, if only a little. Like, if one chooses to listen to the monologue in its entirety, I think perhaps James did actually pause before leaving Mary's hospital room and heard that all himself. Although, that could just be me finding excuses for getting too emotionally invested in a character who doesn't deserve complete sympathy! xD

Your interpretation of Mary's influence (or what the town interprets of her likely desires) is very similar to mine which I'm glad to see. I get the feeling that those strongly affected by the town (and its power, whether they not it or not) also affect the town as well. Like, in some kind of 'spiritual' exchange or maybe even binding. And because of this, I think we are able to explain why Walter (or the town's 'memory' of him) was able to exist after death and continue to affect the world outside Silent Hill's immediate surroundings, why the frightened founders of Sheperd's Glen were able to bring the powers they feared so much into their new community after breaking off with the Order and why it is likely that 'Mary' had a hand in showing James the multiple paths that were open to him through the 'exorcising' powers of Silent Hill.

I like to think that it was actually a ghost Mary, as I think it makes the possibility of Maria's overt sexuality and sensual choice of attire a little more interesting if this perhaps reflects what Mary thought James wanted from her while she saw herself as disgusting and decaying and not necessarily what James himself wanted.
Plus, it would make the Leave ending so much more touching if James and Mary actually had a chance to communicate before being separated again. James could really apologise to his wife and Mary could really forgive him.
(I've gotten to the point in my life where seeing as how much shit one can get in the real world, if I can find a happy ending in fiction then that's my canon, dammit! xD)

Slightly OT:
One thing about the 'Leave' ending still troubles me though. If Laura and James left together in James' car, what happened to Mary's body...? Ito and others have hinted at the body likely being in the car, at least for the 'In Water' ending, so wouldn't Laura completely flip out if Mary was still 'lounging' on the back seat...?! o.O
Although, In Water perhaps implies that Mary was incarnated into her physical body and, when she dies again, James carries her back out to the car. Perhaps with 'Leave' he buries her off-screen and then find Laura. *shrug*
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by CrazyCatLady on Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:55 pm

No, they hinted that Mary was in the trunk. The Book of Lost Memories hints at trunk, not just car. Therefore Laura wouldn't have a clue, and he could get rid of it when she's not around, asleep, or something.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by gothlolilunatic on Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:15 pm

From what I remember, towards the end of the game Mary's letter goes blank. Whether this means that the letter was always a blank piece of paper or if that was symbolic, I'm not sure. Personally I think the letter was the call, therefore it was created by Silent Hill. So, towards the end when James realized the truth about Mary, the letter was no longer needed, so the text disappeared.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:18 pm

True, Lost Memories does go with trunk, but Masahiro Ito said on his twitter that he thought she was in the back seat: https://twitter.com/adsk4/status/196960739410460672 (Warning: His twitter background is surprisingly NSFW! I guess when someone's an artist that good, you don't tell them what pictures they can show. xD)

Her being in the trunk would make things a bit cleaner and also their drive out of town a little more creepy, but it works.

gothlolilunatic wrote:From what I remember, towards the end of the game Mary's letter goes blank. Whether this means that the letter was always a blank piece of paper or if that was symbolic, I'm not sure. Personally I think the letter was the call, therefore it was created by Silent Hill. So, towards the end when James realized the truth about Mary, the letter was no longer needed, so the text disappeared.


I'm inclined to think that the first letter was the "call" as well. Though, I think it may have only appeared to him once he was within range of Silent Hill's domain. A lot of people think James went to Silent Hill with the intent of killing himself, so I suspect he only "noticed" or "remembered" the letter close to reaching the town.

The thing I find interesting about the letter being the work of Silent Hill's power or Mary's desire is that, if James did not go completely off the deep end (bad In Water pun intended) before reaching the town, thinking that he received the letter at his home, does that mean that his mental wipe was solely the work of his overwhelmed mind or did 'the power' have a hand in this, giving him a clean slate to build on before making the second most important decision of his life.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Vestige on Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:02 pm

Well i always understood that it wasn't just a coincidence that James and Laura are shown to be walking on the graveyard, i had the idea that maybe this could mean that now that it's decided that James will go on living and raise Laura, they will most surely give Mary a proper burial (well... clandestine xD, but still proper... compared to be just thrown into the lake xD). That's just my interpretation of it.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:59 pm

That's true, their exit through the graveyard could very well imply that they chose to bury Mary properly before the leaving the town. This would be a lot for Laura to handle so soon after finding out about Mary though, even if Mary 'visited' her too. Though I suppose she has already proven to be a very strong little girl to make it as far as she has already on her own, regardless of whether she sees the Otherworld or not. It might also be another display of character on James' part, continuing the honesty he has displayed to Laura so far and finally to himself.

(What a story!! Once you start thinking about it, it's hard to stop!)
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by CrazyCatLady on Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:13 pm

Well, that, and it's probably their only way out of town too :lol: All other roads were blocked for them, and that's the only way back to his car! Though, I do like the thought of them burying her there in Silent Hill. It was obvious how much she loved that town, calling it their "special place". She had plenty happy loving memories in that which in a way helped her keep going through her illness. It would only be perfect and right.

And Ah! I guess I missed Ito saying that, though, I don't think she'd be in the back. If she was in the back then I don't see how James would easily forget when she's there in plain sight. It'd be much easier for James to forget if she was in the trunk. He can't look in the back window seeing her dead body and then say "Are you really here in this town, Mary?" :lol: "Well, DUH, James! She's right there in your car!"
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:28 pm

Good point. Also, before Blue brought up that possible reason for their exiting town via that route, walking away through the graveyard, I had interpreted it as a kind of metaphor for their marching on with life even after facing the painful reality of loss and death. Could very well be both.

Someone else brought that point up to him and I think his response was saying that failing to see his wife's body right in front of him, even as he leans back into the car to retrieve the map, showed the extent of how damaged his psyche was and the potency of the delusion he had fabricated as a coping mechanism. That is of course if, as I was questioning earlier, his delusion was entirely self-constructed...
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by CrazyCatLady on Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:38 pm

Yeah, even as I was posing that point in my post, I was thinking that as well! Even if she was in front of his face, he was so mentally and emotionally compromised and damaged, that he wouldn't even notice, nor would it have an effect.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:45 pm

Almost makes you want to hug him, until you remember his love of pillow fights...
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by CrazyCatLady on Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:22 pm

If only he'd play that with PH 38 He just wanted a friend.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:44 pm

Something tells me the shape of his helmet/head would give him a distinctly unfair advantage in a play-fight!
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Naroon on Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:47 pm

I think the body was indeed in the backseat. Ito said that the reason James didn't notice was because he became overly-deluded after he got into the town.
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by CrazyCatLady on Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:48 pm

Well, I guess it's either between the Book of Lost Memories, or Ito. :lol:
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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by what on Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:22 pm

WhiteClaudia wrote:Well, I guess it's either between the Book of Lost Memories, or Ito. :lol:


Being forced to choose between the two in this instance, the tie goes to the book for one big reason: Putting the body in the backseat is careless, and James, even in his self-destructive state of mind, has a plan in mind and therefore has no reason to risk being caught by police.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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James' Second Letter & What It May Signify (Spoilers!)

Post by Rob of the Fog on Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:06 am

I think its worth taking into account just how frazzled the guy's brain is at this point though. 3 years of depression, (probably) heavy drinking and then being witness to a highly traumatic event (even if he was the one doing it) would likely have a very strong effect on his judgement. He might have had a very clear objective in mind with travelling to Silent Hill, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was able to think completely rationally. Mentally unstable people often become very obsessive and fixated on particular things, but it is quite possible that they are, at the same time, discussing these things at length with imaginary friends! xD
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