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  • >The Summoner is a literary example of deus ex machina, which translates to "god from the machine." In literature, deus ex machina is a device that comes out of nowhere and solves a seemingly impossible problem.

    I guess I have a few problems with this. First, it's not really "deus ex machina." (Maybe it would be on TV Tropes.) Don't get me wrong, it's unbelievably convenient, but it's also set up early in the story. Merriam-Webster qualifies "deus ex machina" as something that "appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly" to save the hero.

    Second, literary analysis isn't usually allowed on articles, as it's opinionated.

    Lastly, and this is just a personal thing, I've never really seen the point of using much literary analysis on Stine's work. Maybe it's because I was exposed to the horrors of reading something on Wikipedia...


    It Came from Wikipedia!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Goosebumps&type=revision&diff=186607100&oldid=186572325

    Now that doesn't sound too bad. Obviously, it's not suited for Wikipedia. But his eventual response to having his "review" removed...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Goosebumps#%22Scholarly_Review%22

    Like, that'd be a fantastic copypasta. Also, the following comment has me dying:

    >I think at the end, [username redacted] might actually turn out to be a robot or an alien or maybe a dog having a daydream.

    🔥🔥🔥


    ...So... What was I talking about, again? Oh yeah, Between the Lions. What a good show.

    Hold on, I think I was talking about literary analyses on articles. (Honestly, I was probably just looking for an excuse to bring back that Wikipedia link.) Stay spooky. ;)

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    • I think it's hilarious he called his own article scholarly. I actually really enjoyed his scholarly article, haha. 

      When I first started these recaps, I had the same view as you about literary analysis of Stine's work. Then, I thought about it, and I feel like we are limiting the perceived quality of these books by not analyzing them. I think kids, especially reluctant readers, can gain a lot out of these books if they choose to look at them analytically. I want to be able to direct my students to my blog in the future and help them discover books to read, showing what they can take away from them. In the 12 books I've covered so far, I've found red herrings, foreshadowing, symbolism, and in this most recent book, deus ex machina.

      Now, about that deus ex machina. I think it's up for debate. Here's what I wrote on my blog for why I feel it is deus ex machina:


      Did anyone feel kind of cheated when Gabe held his mummy hand up in the air and saved his impossible problem? You should have. Deus ex machina, translated from Latin to English as “God from the machine,” is a literary device that is often frowned upon in literature. The idea is that something will come out of seemingly nowhere and save the day. These devices seem too random, and often, too convenient. The Summoner, the mummy hand Gabe keeps in his pocket as a good-luck charm is a classic case of deus ex machina.

      I like the idea of the purpose the hand served. There is something cool about Gabe having an ancient artifact in his pocket, but how he came about it is too random. We’re told Gabe bought it at a yard sale for $2. An unknown boy sold it to him and told him it had powers to summon evil spirits. Where did that boy get the hand? Where did he get that information? Why wasn’t this explored more?

      If we had more of a backstory on the hand, the ending of the book wouldn’t have felt as cheap. I get this this is a Goosebumps book, and these books are not generally deep, but Stine could have avoided the need for background altogether, and would have killed accusations of deus ex machina if he had made Gabe discover the hand in the pyramid. Gabe got lost twice in the pyramid. If he had stumbled upon the hand the first time he got lost, thought it looked cool, and decided to stick it in his pocket, the ending would not have felt cheap at all.

      What we got, however, was Khala’s hand just so happened to end up in a yard sale in the States that Gabe, a boy who would become trapped in her pyramid, would stumble upon and keep as a good-luck charm. Nah. I’m sorry. This is too convenient. For that reason, and because this particular item happened to save the day, The Summoner is deus ex machina. It’s a cool piece of deus ex machina, but it’s still deus ex machina.

      Early in the book when Gabe is waiting on Ben and Sari to arrive, he hears movement at the door and, without thinking, he holds his mummy hand up in the air for protection. He does it again at the end of the book when he, Sari, and Ben are in danger. What drove him to do that? Did the mummy hand persuade him or control him to a degree? Now that is interesting. We just get a cop out, “I don’t know why I did what I did,” answer and it’s not explored more. It’s a shame, because this one item had real potential to strengthen this book, but as deus ex machina, I think it harmed it.


      As for your argument, the magic in the hand appears out of nowhere. Given the randomness of Gabe having the hand in the first place, I think it could absolutely be deus ex machina.

      On a side note, I read some other reviews of this book after writing mine, and a few others have mentioned deus ex machina. I just noticed it on Blogger Beware today. That's not where I got it, but I think since more than one person sees it, there's a case for it.

      I support its removal off the article. I understand how it could be seen as opinionated. I was seeing it more in line with calling Alicia a red herring in The Horror of Camp Jellyjam. Since you think not everyone will see it as a clear case of deus ex machina, it's definitely opinionated and doesn't belong in the article. :)

      Thanks for the heads up instead of just removing it. I'm not offended at all.

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    • I have considered your disrespectful comments towards my comment and, now that the Christmas holidays are over, I am obliged to let my anger with your remarks be known. I shall start with you, Yeerk. Yeerk, you reffered to my comment as dubious. This is ironic, considering that you as a person are quite dubious. When I read your opinions of my comment, I scoff at you. Your argument is so ill founded that I cannot even take you seriously. It is quite obvious to me, and all the memembers of the SGAS, that your dissatisfaction with the page citations is not an indication of the article's "dubiousness", but rather an indication of your ignorance of Goosebumps and literature in general. If you think people need a citation as to where the camera in Say Cheese and Die came from,, then you need to understand what is common knowledge and not. For instance, If i were to write that the sky is blue, or that the earth is round, or that [insert name of politician here] has no idea what he is talking about, most reasonably intelligent humans would agree with such widely known facts. Such is the same for Goosebumps and R.L. Stine. When I say that the plots "are masterfully formulated" or imply that R.L. Stine is brilliant, the majority of people recognize that the two statements are widely known facts.
      Sincerely,
      The Swain Goosebumps Appreciation Society

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    • I think it's more of a Chekov's gun, as it is clearly set up at the start and the from the name of it, you can assume it summons something, which it indeed sort of does. It's a bit more than what we usually get at least.

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    • I agree with that. While it's impossibly convenient, the first few chapters establish that the hand can summon "evil spirits, or something." Then, when Gabe is out of options, he uses the hand to summon spirits. The book even throws in this line to plug up what might appear to be a gap in logic: "maybe I was unconsciously remembering the legend behind the hand that the kid at the garage sale had told me."

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    • Huh, that's really interesting! I might add that in. I've heard of Chekov's gun but haven't really explored it. Look at you guys analyzing Goosebumps like it's good literature. lol

      I agree with GbA. My major issue with The Summoner is its convenience. It feels cheap and cheapens the ending. If he had gone just a little deeper with it, given it a little more substance... but ugh, I guess you guys are right. It's not as random as I felt it was. I'll amend my review.

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    • I guess I'm too used to these books not paying/setting things off at at all that I noticed when something is indeed set up, even if is this thing that he got at a garage sale happening to really work is super contrived, he should have found it in the pyramid or something.

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    • >Look at you guys analyzing Goosebumps

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

      You fiend. You've tricked me into thinking!!!

      You exploited my one weakness: being an annoying pedant.

      >he should have found it in the pyramid or something.

      I'm consistently confused by Stine's writing choices. There will always be these little details that — with minor adjusting — could actually make sense. While the TV show is corny, the writers almost always improve on the story.

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    • Come to think, I think that wouldn't quite work either because if it was just a random thing he found, the climax would be even more out of nowhere cuz we don't know what it does and it happens to save the day. Now that would have been a Deus Ex Machina. So I don't know.

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    • Just add in the lamp seller from Aladdin, but — this time — he's dealin' out magic hands.

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    • I agree. That's actually what I asserted -- that the hand should have been found in the pyramid the first time Gabe got lost. He went to a museum with mummies before his second pyramid visit, so he could have taken it out, and a mummy could have *possibly*  moved, responding to it.

      Gabe: Did you see that?

      Sari: See what?

      Gabe: Its hand moved!

      Sari: You're imagining things, Gabe.

      Something like that would have been awesome and would have set the ending up to not be random. We should have just written this book ourselves. lol

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    • The mummy moving would have to be a chapter cliffhanger. 

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    • Okay, that's a good way to combine both approaches, that works.

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    • A FANDOM user
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