It’s been a week since I finished Watchers by Dean Koontz, and have since had a few discussions about it. On a quick Google I pulled up a critical analysis of the piece by Joan G. Kotker, an English Faculty member at Bellevue College, and found it to be a thought-provoking study. I’ve always enjoyed geeking out on exceptional art, taking things deeper into the world of academia. Music, fiction, painting, chess, etc. It’s a healthy way to burn of steam.
Along with a solid analysis of plot, structure, character, and point of view, Kotker offers some spot-on observations with regards to thematic elements found in Watchers. In particular, she identifies the Mickey Mouse device Koontz utilizes as a motif to punctuate the underlying theme of the story, which Kotker describes to be: “Happy childhoods are only a fantasy; they exist only in the world of Mickey Mouse. In the world of reality, no one can make us happy. Instead, we must achieve our own happiness, and we can do this only by caring for one another, by watching over one another.”
Kotker on the Mickey motif as used by Koontz in Watchers:
One specific issue raised by Watchers is the repeated use of Mickey Mouse as a motif. Einstein loves watching Mickey Mouse videos, and requests them for a Christmas present. When Nora and Travis are searching for names for the child they will have, Einstein suggests that it be named Mickey or Minnie.
These scenes with reference to Mickey are at first funny and touching, and then, at the end, very sad. They carry a weight within the work that seems to suggest they are intended as more than a charming detail — that Mickey Mouse represents something fundamental to the novel’s world view — and it is striking that, in fact, Mickey Mouse has something in common with Einstein and The Outsider: all three are creatures created by human beings to serve the needs of human beings.
Perhaps the underlying message here is that human beings are not really meant to manipulate other creatures, that only in the world of fantasy can we be creators of successful alternative lives. Or perhaps, more ominously, the message is that unlike Einstein and The Outsider, human beings are not capable of differentiating between fantasy and reality. As a consequence, we bring great pain and sorrow into the world by continually trying to make our fantasies into realities. In this reading, the irony of Mickey Mouse is that the dog and The Outsider, who love this icon of childhood, are in fact more adult than the humans who have developed them, since they have the maturity to understand fantasy for what it is; by virtue of this understanding, they know that human beings can successfully create other creatures only in the world of fantasy, not in the world of reality.
Yes, yes, YES. Nicely done.