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House on the Rock

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"Forty years ago, Alex Jordan — his face is on the token you have palmed in your right hand, Shadow — began to build a house on a high jut of rock in a field he did not own, and even he could not have told you why. And people came to see him build it - the curious, and the puzzled, and those who were neither and who could not honestly have told you why they came. So he did what any sensible American male of his generation would do: he began to charge them money - nothing much. A nickel each, perhaps. Or a quarter. And he continued building, and the people kept coming.

"So he took those quarters and nickels and made something even bigger and stranger. He built these warehouses on the land beneath the house, and filled them with things for people to see, and then the people came to see them. Millions of people come here every year."

Wednesday to Shadow, Chapter Five

The House on the Rock[1] is a location in American Gods where Mr. Wednesday takes Shadow to first meet with the Old Gods in their war against the New Gods.

Significance in narrative Edit

Chapter Five Edit

Shadow and Wednesday drive through Madison, WI and continue on another hour down country roads before arriving at the House on the Rock. Wednesday explains to Shadow that people feel pulled to places of power and in other countries, they build temples and monuments while in America, they build roadside attractions, which gives this particular location its power.

They buy tickets and enter the attraction, which takes at least two hours to go through according to the clerk. Wednesday leads them through the attraction, pausing in the Infinity Room to discuss the powers of Disneyland versus Disney World, before taking Shadow along the "Streets of Yesterday." Wednesday tells Shadow about Alex Jordan,[2] the man who built the place. At the end of the Streets of Yesterday, they arrive at a fortune-telling mannequin, whom Wednesday dubs their Urd. They both insert tokens to receive their fortunes before proceeding on to The Mikado room, where they encounter Czernobog seated on a bench.

They proceed with Czernobog down several corridors and through various rooms and attractions before arriving at a pizzaria-cafeteria where Mr. Nancy is seated. Wednesday leaves for the restroom while Shadow is introduced to Mr. Nancy. Once Wednesday returns, they set off again through the House on the Rock, finally reaching the Carousel Room.

The carousel goes round and round without stopping because it is meant to be admired, not ridden. Wednesday then asks Shadow to help them onto the platform where he, Czernobog, and Mr. Nancy jump on board the carousel. Shadow joins them, feeling more uneasy breaking the rules at the carousel than he did robbing the bank that morning.

Once on the carousel, each of the men select a mount with Wednesday picking a golden wolf, Czernobog choosing an armored centaur, and Nancy climbing on a roaring lion. Shadow eventually selects a tiger with an eagle's head to ride. The four men laugh and enjoy their ride on the carousel as the Blue Danube waltz plays and the lights glisten. Then, the lights go out and Shadow sees the gods.

Chapter Six Edit

When the lights go out on the carousel at the House on the Rock, the only illumination is from starlight as the eagle-headed tiger beneath Shadow seemed to come to life. He is able to see multiple dimensions with Mr. Nancy appearing to him in all his various forms. The creatures they're now riding trot them to a wooden hall on a hill. Czernobog tells Shadow that none of it is really happening and it's all in his head. Shadow also sees Czernobog in his various forms as Wednesday steers his giant wolf over to Shadow's side and tells him his various names, leading Shadow to ask if Wednesday is Odin,[3] which Wednesday confirms.

They enter Valaskjalf,[4] Odin's old hall, as Mr. Nancy explains to Shadow they're in Wednesday's mind. Wednesday is upset that there aren't as many people waiting for them in the hall as he expected. Mr. Nancy steps up as the "warm-up" man and tells the crowd of Old Gods a story about how he stole Tiger's balls and blamed it on Old Monkey, which is why to this day, Tiger chases monkeys. Wednesday next stands before the people gathered. He gives them a speech about how the New Gods are growing in America and it is now time for the Old Gods to act. Mama-ji gets into an argument with Wednesday, saying they only have to wait for the New Gods to die out like the ones of the past. Wednesday tells them all they have already lost everything and he is offering them the chance to take something back.

The fire burns out and the meeting ends. Shadow asks Mr. Nancy what happens next and Nancy says Wednesday buys them all dinner and will work them one-by-one over to his side. They are suddenly back in the Carousel Room and Wednesday is talking to what looks to be a group of tourists. Wednesday leads them out of the House on the Rock as Shadow asks Nancy if it really happened. Nancy replies, "Heck, nobody's allowed to ride the carousel. Didn't you see the signs? Now hush."

Places Edit

  • 1960s Bachelor Pad, then up a winding staircase
  • Knick-knack room, then up and down more stairs
  • Infinity Room
  • A room with over 6000 Santa Clauses
  • The Streets of Yesterday, then down a red hallway
  • Musical instruments room
  • The Mikado
  • The Drunkard's Dream machine
  • A blood-colored room filled with organ pipes
  • A room with a whale devouring a ship
  • The Travel Room
  • A pizzeria-cafeteria
  • A room with suits of armor
  • The Carousel Room[5]
  • A room with life-sized models of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse[6]

The Norns Edit

Shadow and Mr. Wednesday "consult the Norns[7]" before the start of their enterprise via a mannequin fortune teller at the end of the Streets of Yesterday, dubbing her their Urd.

Shadow's fortune from the Norns at the House on the Rock reads: "Every ending is a new beginning. Your lucky number is none. Your lucky color is dead. Motto: Like father, like son."

Drunkard's Dream Edit

The Drunkard's Dream is an attraction at the House on the Rock that Czernobog drags Shadow over to view. Shadow inserts one of the tokens Wednesday gave him and a scene plays out before him of a drunk in a graveyard drinking from a bottle. The headstones flip up with ghosts and corpses appearing around the graveyard and church scene before the church door opens and a priest comes out, scaring them away and leaving the priest and drunkard alone. The priest looks disdainfully at the drunk before returning inside the church. It leaves Shadow feeling unsettled and Czernobog says that's the real world.

Music Edit

Musical references from the House on the Rock.

  • Bolero - Maurice Ravel (plays when they first enter)
  • Danse Macabre - Camille Saint-Saëns (plays in the broken instrument room)
  • Octopus's Garden - The Beatles (plays in the room with the ship and a whale)
  • The Blue Danube - Johann Strauss II (plays at the carousel)
  • Emperor Waltz - Johan Strauss II (plays at the carousel)

Quotes Edit

"Plan is as follows. On Saturday night, which, as I have already remarked, is tomorrow, we shall be meeting with a number of persons pertinent in their respective fields - do not let their demeanor intimidate you. We shall meet at one of the most important places in the entire country. Afterward we shall wine and dine them. There will be, at a guess, thirty or forty of them. Perhaps more. I need to enlist them in my current enterprise."
- Mr. Wednesday, Chapter Four
"This is a roadside attraction," said Wednesday. "One of the finest. Which means it is a place of power."
- Mr. Wednesday, Chapter Five
"The House on the Rock is a real place about an hour west of Madison Wi, that I write about in American Gods, and I had to tone down my description of it and leave things out in the book in order to make it believable."
- Neil Gaiman

Notes and trivia Edit

  • Wednesday gives Shadow a metal coin at the House on the Rock and Shadow sees a little boy watching him so he holds the token in his forefinger and thumb and then vanishes it.
  • The House on the Rock is a genuine tourist attraction that can be found near the town of Spring Green, WI. Alex Jordan reportedly built the house itself to spite the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who also lived in the area and refused to work with him. It also houses tens of thousands of items from Jordan's personal collections (consisting of both genuine and forged items) in a number of eclectically-themed rooms, and a carousel that's often billed as the "world's largest."

References Edit

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_on_the_Rock
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Jordan,_Jr.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odin
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valaskj%C3%A1lf
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_on_the_Rock_Carousel
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Apocalypse
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norns

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