This post contains spoilers about the narrator of Shutter Island. Join the main discussion here.
Shutter Island: A Novel by Dennis Lehane
Let me be right up front. I usually don’t like unreliable narrators. They aren’t so bad when you know right from the start the narrator isn’t reliable, for example like Rachel Watson in The Girl On The Train. But when the narrator seems reliable and is revealed to have been leading the reader astray only at the end of the book, I feel cheated. I want to shout at the author, “no fair!”
If that is the case, why didn’t I feel cheated by U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels? You have to admit that was a huge twist at the end and although there were hints, nothing was conclusive one way or another until the last part.
But who is the narrator?
I didn’t feel cheated by Teddy Daniels because he wasn’t the truly the narrator. Remember the prologue? Dr. Lester Sheehan aka Chuck Aule was the one writing the story. Lester fully admits his mind wasn’t what it once was. He is writing the story because “…its current storage facility…” (his mind) was beginning to “leak.”
What really happened at the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane? Was Teddy really an inmate who Lester tried to help with an unusual and risky treatment? Or was he really a Marshal who stumbled into a trap from which he couldn’t get away? Looking back on the prologue again, was Teddy the rat who had swum to the sand island from which there was no hope of escaping?
What do you think of the narrator in Shutter Island?
(Public domain photograph by PublicDomainPictures.net)