Dennis Lehane


confused by Shutter Island, did anyone GET it??

>>By Elizabeth   (Wednesday, 30 Apr 2003 15:35)

I read an interview where Lehane says that the ending is intentionally ambiguous, but the very last section made no sense to me. I've tried rereading it. I'm new at this--how do I get to the other postings? James

>>By James   (Tuesday, 6 May 2003 02:26)

I read shutter Island twice and still do not get it. Can anyone explain the ending?????

>>By Cheryl   (Friday, 16 May 2003 13:31)

Re: Shutter Island ending

It's really open for interpretation by the reader. I just finished the book and am trying to get some insight on it, also.

My belief is that Teddy/Andrew had a second breakthrough and then relapsed again and was unable to accept the truth about himself, his wife, and their children.

The last page states "Cawley said something to the warden and they crossed the lawn toward Teddy with four orderlies falling in step behind them, one of the orderlies holding a white bundle, some sort of fabric ----"

That made me think that, because of his history of violence at the hospital, he was going to be given a lobotomy so he would no longer endanger the staff and patients.

>>By Virginia   (Sunday, 15 Jun 2003 03:07)

I agree with Virginia: Teddy has relapsed, and for the last time. I was confused at first by his friendly banter with Chuck/ Dr. Sheehan), but figure that Sheehan just playing along with Teddy to make it easier for orderlies to get the straightjacket on.

>>By Nick   (Wednesday, 25 Jun 2003 21:19)

I am having the same issue with the ending. My first inclination was that he relapsed again and they were coming with a straight jacket to give him a lobotomy. The only thing that is confusing about this is in the prologue, where Dr. Sheehan is writing his "memoir" about the island he talks about Teddy, he doesn't say Andrew, but Teddy. Also at the end of that letter he says something about the two evils, one of which is Andrew. But maybe he is talking about his other "personality?"

>>By Galaxy Girl   (Monday, 14 Jul 2003 15:51)

One other point that confused me - add to my questions above:

The "real" Rachel Solondo/Doctor was in the cave hiding from them. She was never explained and Teddy saw her for certain. Trey Washington was telling him to escape and telling him how. If he had hurt all those people in his 2 years there- presumably friends/colleagues of Trey, why would he want a dangerous man to escape like that?

UGH - it's driving me nuts!

>>By Galaxy Girl   (Monday, 14 Jul 2003 16:05)

Man, I'm glad I'm not the only one confused. I've read the ending six times and I'm still not sure what it means.

How about this for an explanation: Teddy really is still a marshall. He is caught up in the process on the island, whose objective is really as explained by the Doctor in the cave. He realizes finally that the only way he can get out is to pretend that he is "programmed". The item with the metal is a life jacket (or something) -- he's going out on the ferry, programmed for his new role (or so they believe).

Having said all that, I think the straight jacket is more likely, but it doesn't explain the encounter in the cave.


>>By Mopar Man   (Friday, 5 Sep 2003 07:31)

OK, another try. The whole book is about Chuck/Dr. Sheehan clearing his conscience after so many years, and to put "truth to paper". I think what happened was that Teddy just wouldn't stay programmed, but the drugs wouldn't let him return to "total reality" either. The doctors tried until they gave up. Finally, they came down the hill with the straight jacket to take Teddy to the operation tower.

Teddy really was a marshall, and with his "covert" background was targeted for the brain alteration, for some purpose of the government. Didn't work out the way they'd hoped. At least this would explain the goings-on with the caves and with the other "undercover" patient.

>>By Mopar Man   (Friday, 5 Sep 2003 15:23)

I just discovered this sight after having done a Google search looking for an explanation of the ending of Shutter Island. Glad to know I'm not the only clueless one out there.

I tend to agree with the theory that it was yet another relapse and that the orderlies with Cawley and the warden were indeed carrying a straightjacket.

But then again, I'm confused by the various warnings from Trey which point in another direction altogether.

For my sake, I hope Lehane gets back to Kenzie and Gennaro soon. I don't think I can handle thinking this much. :-)

>>By JMS21921   (Wednesday, 8 Oct 2003 22:07)

Before Kenzie and Gennaro get too old and beaten up too much we need at least one more from them.

>>By thunderbolt   (Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 09:25)

From what I understand, Teddy had a second breakthrough, and to see if he was stable, they tested him the morning after (with Chuck). Sadly, he had relapsed again.
The ending suggests he'll get lobotomized...

I hate bad endings, Mystic River wasn't particulary happy either. :(

>>By mistarmoise   (Thursday, 13 Nov 2003 02:39)

Yeah, Teddy's Toast for sure...Very good book...Solid entertainment.

>>By thunderbolt   (Thursday, 13 Nov 2003 08:58)

The only thing that really didn't jive was the Trey Washington encouraging him to escape....however, when you think about it, Lehane actually explained that away, if you stretch your mind a bit. Everything that happend in the book was Cawley's plan, yes? Related to him by Teddy/Andrew on numerous occassions, as was explained to us. So all the elements had to be there to make it believable and real to Teddy/Andrew. INCLUDING the "real" doctor in the cave (notice how she wasn't there the second time around) and Trey.

The ending did bother me. As always with his books, I forgot how to breathe when I hit the "punchline", but the very last part grates on my nerves. I hated to end to Mystic River, and I'm not sure why Lehane wanted to make us go through all that for nothing. 'Tis saddening.

>>By Pied Piper   (Friday, 9 Jan 2004 22:06)

Glad I found this site, was totally clued out about the ending, after reading the book in one day yesterday, so happy not to be alone trying to figure it out. I was really shaken for an hour and puzzled all day today, I think the purpose of the book is just that, to shake you in your own beliefs of what is the truth and what could be just illusion and, judging by our common reaction, the author evidently succeeded...

>>By Plafleur10   (Tuesday, 27 Jan 2004 03:54)

I have read Mystic River, I enjoyed it. Are his others just as good?

>>By lalaloveyou   (Wednesday, 7 Apr 2004 23:38)

I think it was obviously leaving it to the reader to decide whether the protagonist was deluded or was being set up by the "mental health" establishment . The reason i think this is that it seemed to me that Lehane was trying to get you to think about the atrocities committed in the name of treating the mentally unstable (whoever they are) and when an ending is ambiguous, you think about it more. From reading Lehane's other work, I know he is capable of being very unambiguous when he wants to

>>By gigigi   (Tuesday, 13 Apr 2004 02:54)

I just finished Shutter Island and was confused, too. At first, I thought he had regressed; I agree with Virginia's view. But then I went back and read the prologue by Dr. Sheehan and thought it negated my interpretation. The other possibility is that Dr. Sheehan was remembering the alter ego--Teddy-- that Andrew had created to cope with what he had done.
It's been a mind-spinning week for me. I watched the movie "Donnie Darko" with a friend on Sunday night and we were totally confused by the ending- then I finished Shutter Island last night.
I need some light reading now to give my brain a break!

>>By Senji   (Wednesday, 21 Apr 2004 04:47)

I am reading "Sacred" now and enjoy the characters. This and "Shutter Island" are the only Lehane books I've read. "Mystic River" is always out at the library! I want to read it before I see the movie.
What, in everyone's opinion, is Lehane's best novel?

>>By Senji   (Thursday, 22 Apr 2004 19:07)

My 1st impression was that Teddy/Andrew had another (and for him, a final) relapse and they were coming to subdue him with a straight-jacket and perform the lobotomy on him.

I think Lehane purposely ended the book in this thought-provoking way. It would make for a terrific movie - as long as Bruce "The Sixth Sense" Willis doesn't play Teddy. That would give the ending away to the movie-goer!

>>By larrydi   (Thursday, 29 Apr 2004 17:49)

Maybe I'm just looking for the "easy" explanation, but my first impression was that all of Day 3 was a dream (more side effects from the migraine medication) and he woke up on Day 4 (really Day 3) and he and Chuck were really getting off the island as the US Marshalls they really are. I'm often the one interpretting things differently, wouldn't surprise me if I was totally wrong!

>>By bethcav   (Tuesday, 18 May 2004 19:53)

What about the warden that Teddy/Andrew encounters after returning from meeting "Rachel" in the cave? He is described as an almost Dracula-like figure; pale with long curved fingernails. Also, he is carrying a book that is referred to again in the end, but never explained. Teddy says, as he sees the warden across the yard, "We ever figure out what that book of the warden's is?" Chuck replies, "Nope. [...] Maybe there are some things we were put on this earth NOT to know. Look at it that way."
And the pills Cawley gives Teddy for his migraine? Why is there a part of his mind frantically telling him not to take them?
Finally, at the end of the prologue, Sheehan says that he had once seen one of Shutter Island's rats swim to a small sandbar island off Shutter Island exposed briefly at low tide and "I thought that if Teddy were sitting with me, he would have seen that rat too. He would have.
"And I'll tell you something else:
"He would have clapped."
There's something chilling about that but I can't figure it out? Any thoughts?

>>By Midnight Rambler   (Tuesday, 25 May 2004 09:23)

i think that part suggests that no one gets off the island.

>>By Jasmyn   (Friday, 6 Aug 2004 00:37)

So many questions- Indeed! The biggest left in my mind being that of the Woman cave doctor and Warden. I feel the Woman in the cave is a delusion of Teddy/Andrew. Perhaps (at his most 'sane' point in the book) an ominous hallucination, that tries to warn and remind him of the past experience he has suffered the last 2 yrs on the island. (When Teddy tells her 'I know the Rachel Solando I met was a fake' she replies 'How do you know'--she obviously knows what he's referring to. If she were a cave doctor who is supposedly dead, there’s a good chance she wouldn’t know any of the drama he tells her) Wuddya think...?
The Warden's character is really getting me mad, though. He is such an extreme character that doesn't mesh easily with the others "They really broke the mold with you, didn’t they, Warden?". What I got from it is that he (Warden) is this allusional evil spirit with his references to God using nature as a 'smiling killer', the many struggles of men, the negative things of the world: violence, RATS etc. No-name-Warden also quotes George Gordon, Lord Byron "My very chains and I grew friends" as if telling him to just accept this horrific fate he has coming his way. The Warden’s book -which is very clearly pointed out twice once here, and again at the end of the book- I can only think of as a Biblical thing, maybe Teddy/Andrew's own personal Life-Bible story in which Warden holds the past-present-and future to and can change with one cast of his evil spell (cue scary music)."Maybe there are some things we were put on this earth not to know"- is said right before he is taken away in the straitjacket. Many feel the same about the Bible. Not everything Is black and white.
I was up late Googling all this stuff-- this book makes me think too much...brilliant.

>>By indigo-go   (Wednesday, 1 Sep 2004 11:18)

I have a much different take on the ending.
I think that Teddy was really himself. In the 50's both Russians and the US governments were doing all kinds of experiments in mind control. I think that's what Shutter Island was- a covert government facility set up to experiment with different forms of mind control- using sleep deprivation, drugs, surgery, and psychological methods to convince someone of a different reality.
That's what they did with Teddy. Put him in a closed environment, deprived him of sleep, drugged him, and then manipulated his environment to confuse him and subsequently to make it seem as if he were another person. I think, in the end, it worked. I think Teddy *almost * made it out of there, but in the end he succumbed to the mind control methods they used on him , and he believed, or rather he *became* , 'a person known as Laeddis who harbored a delusion that he was a marshall named Teddy'.
In the prologue, Dr Sheehan ( aka Chuck) , sails past Shutter Island years later, after it's closed down. He remembers Teddy and Dolores, and wonders how the island must have appeard to Teddy as he approached it in the ferry that day.
"FRom the sea, it didn't look like much. You have to picture it the way Teddy Daniels saw it on that calm morning in September of 1954. ..What purpose could it have, he may have thought. What purpose.
.."But in that moment, ...I thought o f Teddy. I thought of Teddy and his poor dead wife, Dolores Chanal, and those twin terrors rachel solando and andrew laeddis, the havoc they wreaked on us all. "

>>By sixtiesgerl   (Sunday, 3 Oct 2004 15:44)

Here are two important clues on the interpretation of Shutter Island. First, in the final scene, the author has the two protagonists described from Teddy/Andrew's point of view as "Teddy" and "Chuck." So Teddy/Andrew sees himself as Teddy, not Andrew and Sheehan as Chuck. Seeing himself as Teddy and Sheehan as Sheehan would imply that he is not "insane" and that the institution is indeed nefarious. Conversely, seeing himself as Teddy and Sheehan as Chuck negates this interpretation. Therefore, Teddy/Andrew is a mental patient at a legitimate institution. Second, however, in the prologue, as another reader has pointed out, Sheehan describes Teddy/Andrew as arriving at the island in 1954. Assuming this is truthful -- and Sheehan indicates that his intent is to be truthful -- Teddy/Andrew could not have been on the island for two years, which would be true if he were a mental patient. Therefore, Teddy/Andrew is not a mental patient at a legitimate institution. My conclusion is that the author, intent on being clever, ended up creating a self-contradictory story.


>>By TommyToo   (Friday, 26 Nov 2004 16:52)

Hello folks, dumb question, but I'll post it.

So please help, I can not find it anywhere else.

Does ol Dennis have anything new coming out soon? His webpage is crapola so nothing new their.

Thanks much

>>By Reighnman   (Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 03:20)

Ok found this much:
At a book signing a few years back for Shutter Island he said that his new book will be about a event in 1919 Boston. I googled 1919 Boton and found two noteworthy events, a molases fire, and the 1919 Boton Police strike.

hmmmm what and when?

>>By Reighnman   (Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 15:30)

eeks, sorry...should be Boston not Boton..!!!

>>By Reighnman   (Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 15:32)

I don't mind the ending. I really was surprised - but the banter with Aule/Sheehan was too friendly, and too conspicuous, that the last three or so pages made it believable. In a way, I went, "Whew! A U.S. Marshall won't be trapped there" (while simultaneously saddened that Teddy/Andrew was to be surgically lobotomized).

What got me was the prologue. I felt it was sloppy. What "havoc" did Rachel and Andrew "wreak"? Why did Sheehan refer to them as "twin terrors"? There seemed to terrorizing going on during those four days, which is the time frame prologue implies. Also - there is no Rachel to "wreak havoc." Why did Sheehan mention her, since Rachel/Delores was dead by the time Andrew arrived on Shutter Island?

Therefore, I felt Sheehan, in the prologue, was an unreliable narrator - and that my interpretation of the ending could also be unreliable.

It is common for authors to thank their editors, and Lehane has always been profuse in his thanks to Ann Wachtel. This time, Wachtel let Lehane get away with sloppiness. Not only was the prologue unnecessary (not everything needs to be tied up - just look at "The Lovely Bones," and all that the murderer gets away with), Sheehan/Lehane makes a mistake bringing Rachel into it.

Too many mulligans! Did Andrew burn down the school? I think not - since he was already committed by that time.

Also, I stayed away from this book for the longest time, because its blurbs stressed the violence of the surgical ward. But - we didn't see that at all, did we? We were told, not shown - something about which Lehane, an MFA graduate, should have known better.

The doctor in the cave? Not Emily - she was fake-Rachel; where is she then, and why doesn't Lehane bring her back? Talk about sloppy! Why introduce a character if you will do nothing more with her?

Lehane and Wachtel needed a good copy editor; this book slipped through the cracks.

Reighnman - Yes, it is about the Boston police strike.

Also, Lehane has recently stated that he wanted to return to Patrick "Don't call me Pat" Kenzie and Angela "I'm the only granddaughter of some Mafia don" Gennaro.

>>By reindeergirl   (Monday, 18 Aug 2008 02:44)

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