LA X 1 and 2: Literary References


On the plane, before mysteriously disappearing, Desmond is reading Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This is a fantasy novel for children about a storyteller, Rashid, who loses his ability to create narratives because of his son’s lack of imagination. Haroun must venture into a magical Wonderland-like universe to restore his father’s gift. This work has been called a “meta-fable,” a particularly good choice for Lost, the ultimate televisual meta-narrative.


Hurley finds a copy of Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling in a backpack when he leads the group under the walls of the temple. In this philosophical work, Kierkegaard re-tells the story of Abraham’s test (Genesis), and explores the nature of faith and the ethical implications of a blind duty to God. Could these four re-tellings of the “binding of Isaac” be interpreted as Abraham’s alternate universes? In any case, the text certainly explores the various possible outcomes of different actions.

The title comes from the New Testament: “So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  The passage goes on to say, “do everything without grumbling or questioning”  (Philippians 2.12).*  These words reflect Ben’s rhetoric and his unquestioning faith in the island. Of course, we see what happens to Ben when his faith is shaken. Recall the conversation between Ben and “unLocke” in “The Incident.” Unlocke persuades Ben to question Jacob and the island. When Ben asks, “why do you want me to kill Jacob?” unLocke answers, “Because, despite your loyal service to this Island, you got cancer. You had to watch your own daughter gunned down right in front of you. And your reward for those sacrifices? You were banished. And you did all this in the name of a man you’d never even met. So the question is, Ben, why the hell wouldn’t you want to kill Jacob?”

*(New American Bible, Saint Joseph Edition, Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1992)


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