Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 610
The novel begins with what seems to be the end. The character of Tracker was hired to find a missing boy. Now Tracker is a prisoner, it seems, and he is telling the “inquisitor” that he failed. This seems straightforward. The opening line reads: "The child is dead. There is nothing left to know." Because the novel, which is the first part of an intended trilogy, continues for more than 600 pages, there will most certainly be more to know. Contradictions abound throughout the novel. Tracker questions every certainty about his own life and purpose, and the reader questions what the author’s intentions.
Tracker was hired to locate the missing boy, but year after year, he cannot manage to do this. Many different characters throw obstacles into his path, constantly forcing him to wonder why he is encountering so much opposition. The search itself may not be legitimate; perhaps he was set upon the wrong path specifically to deter him from following another. Each time he questions his purpose, however, he grows more resolute, even though a successful outcome seems very unlikely. Tracker often seems a Sisyphus-like existential struggler for whom the effort itself is justification enough. He grows weary of keeping his doubts to himself.
I told myself that I was just tired of believing there was a secret to protect from some unknown enemy, when the truth was I was tired of not having someone to tell it to. Here is truth: At this point I would have told anyone. Truth is truth, and I do not own it. It should make no difference to me who hears it, since him hearing the truth does not change it.
The inquisitor, who records what Tracker has told him, is suspicious that he is telling lies or partial truths. Some of these pertain to his companion, the Leopard. One detail Tracker mentioned previously was that the Leopard had originally commissioned the search for the child, but this may not be true. This theme of truth and lies pervades the entire novel. The inquisitor notes,
But a lie is a house carefully built on rotten stilts. A liar often forgets the beginning of his tale before he gets to the end, and in this way no one will catch him. A lie is a tale carefully told if allowed to be told...
(The entire section contains 610 words.)
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