For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Adventures of Jack Burton ] Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] The Fly ] Galaxy Quest ] Indiana Jones ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Matrix ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Sapphire & Steel ] Snake Plissken Chronicles ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] Waterworld ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Prisoner: I Am Not a Number! The Prisoner
I Am Not a Number!
Written by Thomas M. Disch

(Page numbers come from the 2009 trade paperback edition published by Penguin Books)


Number 6 finds himself in a new Village with no memory of his life in the previous one.


Notes from the Prisoner chronology


It seems possible that the events of this novel take place after the final episode of the TV series, "Fall Out". As the book opens, our unnamed hero is free in London, but with his past memories altered, living a slightly different life than his original one and with the Butler as his own butler, and with no memory of his time in the Village. He soon wakes up in the Village, but we readers know it is a slightly different (or possibly modified) Village. Assigned the designation Number 6, he gradually learns he has been in a similar Village before and seeks to regain his memories and escape. The comic book mini-series Shattered Visage that takes place 20 years after the events of "Fall Out" seems to ignore the events of this novel and the two published after it, Number Two, and A Day in the Life. In order to maintain these novels in the chronology, one may want to consider them to be hallucinations experienced by Number 6 after/during his ordeal in "Fall Out", as it is implied (both here and in Shattered Visage) that Number 6 was at least partially "broken" by the use of drugs and psychological techniques in the final two TV episodes, "Once Upon a Time" and "Fall Out".


Didja Know?


This book was originally published in 1967 to coincide with the premier of the TV series in the UK and was titled simply The Prisoner. Some later editions give it the title The Prisoner: I Am Not a Number!. I've chosen to use this title for the study to differentiate it from the title of the series itself.


Didja Notice?


The novel is divided into four titled parts. Part I is "Arrival". This is also the title of the first episode of the TV series, though this book does not deal directly with that episode.


Chapter 1 is titled "The Connaught". This is presumably the restaurant in which the eventual Number 6 (referred to as "the man" until his designation as Number 6 upon awakening in the Village) and his date, Liora, are dining in this chapter. The Connaught is a five-star hotel with a gourmet restaurant in the Mayfair area of central London.


Page 151 later reveals that the date of the man's date at the Connaught was June 6. This may be an intentional play on the Biblical Number of the Beast, 666; Number 6 on the date of 6/6.


Through the course of the conversation between the man and his date, it seems that they are both spies who have worked together in the past.


On page 3, the man states that they were last together in Trier. Trier is a city in Germany (and a contender with a few others for the oldest city in Germany, founded around 16 BC).


The couple's waiter is said to have a Hapsburg lip. Hapsburg lip is a genetic condition causing the lower jaw to outgrow the upper, resulting in a pronounced underbite and protrusion of the chin. The condition gained the "Hapsburg" name due to the prevalence of the condition in the Hapsburg royal line of Europe due to excessive inbreeding.


Several wines are sampled by the couple in the restaurant: Solera is actually a process of aging certain liquids; "Coindreu Chateau Grillet" is a misspelling of Condrieu Chateau Grillet; Richebourg is a red wine produced in the Côte de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France.


On page 4, Liora asks the man if he takes exception by her coloratura passages. "Coloratura" is a type of elaborate vocal melody, especially in opera.


When Liora remarks on the serious looks on his face, the man says "it's the supraorbital ridge that does that." The supraorbital ridge is more commonly known as the brow ridge, the bony ridge above the eye sockets. Actor Patrick McGoohan had a fairly pronounced brow ridge.


On page 5, the man states that he is 38 years old to Liora. This matches with my speculation of Number 6's age in "Arrival" from his stated birth date there of March 19, 1928 and the episode's shooting date of 1966. However, on page 51, he tells Number 2 he's 40, still giving the same birth date; if his age of 40 is true, the current year of the story is 1968, which would probably correspond to when the book was written, having been originally published in 1969. Perhaps he was fudging his age downward a bit when he said 38, to seem closer to that of Liora, who does imply she is younger than he.


On page 5, when the man corrects Liora's guess of his age from 40 to 38, she says c'est la même. This is French for "it's the same".


Liora says they should go off somewhere by themselves, suggesting the Seychelles Islands, Meshed, or the Philippines. The Seychelles are an island chain nation off the east coast of Africa. Meshed is the second largest city in Iran. The Philippines is an island nation in the western Pacific.


The man tells Liora he's leased a cottage to retire to in Wales on the Pembroke coast through Chandler & Carr. This location would be roughly a hundred miles south of Portmeirion, where the Village exteriors were shot for the TV series. As far as I can tell Chandler & Carr is a fictitious real estate agency.


Liora jokes that the type of village he's retiring to has all the cottages made out of marzipan. Marzipan is a sweet confection. Some viewers of the TV series have said that the buildings of Portmeirion look as if they're made of candy and cake.


On page 6, the man tells Liora he's been up and down Bond Street all day to furnish is new place. Bond Street, in London, is a fashionable, high-end shopping district, in the same Mayfair area of London as the Connaught; it was also mentioned in "The Girl Who Was Death".


Liora mentions the nearness of Grosvenor Square and the man responds, "I thought that might make it handier for you." Grosvenor Square is also in the Mayfair district and is a garden square most commonly known as the home of the U.S. Embassy in England. His remark may imply that Liora works for the U.S. (page 151 seems to confirm this).


Liora remarks that their waiter wore what looked like a Masonic ring. This is a reference to the Freemasons, a fraternal organization known largely in the Western world, whose members often wear a ring with the Masonic symbol of square and compass on it. Since the Freemasons have often been condemned in conspiracy circles as a secret society that manipulates world events towards some larger goal (such as a New World Order), the implication of the waiter wearing such a ring may be that he is watching the man for the powers-that-be as he is about to be absconded to the Village (in this case, a different Village from the one seen in the TV series). In "Free for All", another Masonic symbol, the all-seeing eye of God, was seen in the Village council chamber.


On page 7, Liora mentions an encounter she and the man had in Bergamo. This is a city in Italy.


The man jokingly tells Liora that he bought a bunch of expensive furniture for his new cottage, listing off, “Four Chinese Chippendale chairs, at Mallett’s (a world-renowned antique store). A mahogany table from J. Cornelius, that copies one at the South Kensington Museum (now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum). A Sirhaz carpet in the pear design. A Riesener secretaire that’s very much restored." Then he admits that he only bought some bare essentials from Liberty's. "Chinese Chippendale" is an a Chinese-influenced design element of furniture made by Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779). "Sirhaz" is a misspelling of "Shiraz"; a Shiraz carpet is a Persian rug made in the Iranian city of Shiraz. "Riesener" is a reference to furniture designed by Jean Henri Riesener (1734-1806); a secretaire is a writing desk that has a small storage area for pens and paper. Mallet's is an antique store in London and the South Kensington is a museum officially known as the Victoria and Albert Museum. J. Cornelius is a fictitious (or possibly defunct) business as far as I can tell. Liberty is a luxury department store in the shopping district of central London.


The man tells Liora he leaves that night at 11:30 by train from Paddington. Paddington is a reference to Paddington railway station in London.


Liora asks the man if he can postpone his trip for just one night, but he says, "There isn't a pullman every night." A pullman is a sleeping car on a train, originally made by the Pullman Company.


After the couple has left the restaurant, the waiter clears cups and Tokaj glasses from the table. Tokaj is a wine from the Tokaj region in northern Hungary.


The table at which the couple had sat was table 6, an obvious reference to the man's prisoner designation of Number 6.


That night, the man takes the train to Cheltenham. During the trip, he is intercepted while sleeping and taken to the Village instead. Cheltenham is a town in Gloucestershire, England.


The man carries two Hartmann Knocabouts (sic) as luggage. The Hartmann Knockabout was a large, leather suitcase handcrafted by the Hartmann company.


On page 10, the Butler, working for the soon-to-be Number 6, is described as a mute dwarf, slightly Oriental looking. Presuming this is meant to be the same Butler from the TV series, the Oriental description does not fit at all! Not only did he not look Oriental (Asian), the actor (Angelo Muscat) was a native of Malta, the Mediterranean island.


As the man is about to leave on his trip, he tells the Butler to pick up the Locust at the garage and drive it to Carmarthen, then wire him from there. "Locust" is a misspelling of Locus, in reference to Number 6's Locus Seven car. Carmarthen is a town in Wales, not far from Pembroke.


On page 11, the Butler opens a locked bookcase to get a book for the man to read on his trip. The man says, "Not Dickens." The Butler removes a "sextodecimo volume of frayed morocco". "Dickens" is presumably a reference to English author Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Sextodecimo refers to the size of the book, in this case about 4 × 6¾ inches in width and height. "Morocco" is a type of soft, pliant leather, sometimes used for book bindings. The book is later revealed to be Measure for Measure, a play by William Shakespeare.


Leaving his London home, the man takes a taxi "...along the Brompton Road, through Knightsbridge and past the flood-lit Corinthian columns of Apsley House, turning left and turning left again along the perimeter of Hyde Park, then right into Gloucester Terrace." This is an accurate description of the route through London to Paddington station (although it does not seem to be the best route from Number 6's home at 1 Buckingham Place as seen in the TV series; it's possible his "home" is elsewhere in this scenario structured by the powers-that-be).


On page 12, the man goes to Gate 6 to board his train. Again, a reference to his designation as prisoner Number 6.


Page 12 mentions that Liora had gone on through the bombes about cathedrals and the cities of Salisbury, Winchester, and Wells. These are all actual cities in England. "Bombe" is a spherically-shaped ice cream dessert, resembling a bomb, popular in Europe.


Also on page 12, the man sees a young woman seated on a knapsack, propped against the Sherwood green tin of W.H. Smith's. "Sherwood green" is a paint color manufactured by Bruning Paint Co. WHSmith is a British company that operates small stores and kiosks in transportation hubs and hospitals; I presume that when the book was written, the company had Sherwood green signage or coloration, though the modern color appears to be blue and white.


The train conductor tells the man the train changes engines in Bristol and Swansea before arriving at the destination. These are actual cities in England and Wales, respectively.


On page 13, the man is described as going to bed naked in his compartment on the sleeping car. In the TV series, he is always seen to wear pajamas.


The conductor is reading a copy of News of the World on page 13. News of the World was a British tabloid newspaper published 1843-2011.


On page 14, the Italian musical term accelerando means "gradually accelerating". On page 101, the related term diminuendo means "gradually getting softer".


On page 15, the man awakens to Muzak in a strange, empty train station. Muzak is a brand of background music, with the brand name having acquired a generic acceptance for any type of background music, as heard in elevators, retail shops, etc.


The Muzak begins to play Oklahoma. Oklahoma! is a 1943 Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Presumably, it is the song "Oklahoma!" from the musical that is playing.


When the man wakes up in the train station, his watch reads 3 minutes after 9. 9 minus 3 is 6.


On page 16, the Village the man finds himself in is described as Italianate in architecture. This is much like the original Village seen in the TV series.


Also on page 16, the man walks past a stationers with books in the window by B. S. Johnson, Georgette Heyer, and Bertrand Russell. These were all British writers.


On page 17, the waitress at the cafe asks the man if he wants neggs. I assume this has something to do with eggs since it is breakfast time, but I have not been able to find a 1967-ish definition of neggs (I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with neopets neggs). Is it a British term for bacon and eggs or something? Anyone know?


On page 18, the Village taxi driver informs the man that it's just local service. The same thing occurred to him with a taxi driver in "Arrival".


Page 18 makes a point of stating that the Village taxi is driving on the right side of the road. In England, roads are driven in the left lane. This may indicate the Village is in another country or, at least, the powers-that-be want to give that impression. In the original Village, it's hard to say, because the "roads" were basically all single lane.


Page 19 has the man thinking of the Village design as the conception of some sinister Disney. Walt Disney is the worldwide cultural icon known for Walt Disney Studios, the animated characters created there, and the Disneyland and Disney World theme parks.


Also on page 19, the Village atmosphere as the man observes it during his taxi ride has him waiting to see old women in wimples and bombazeen skirts. These are both pre-20th Century fashions that were once worn by European women.


Page 20 reveals that this version of the Village has a church, a concept that seemed antithetical to the Village in the TV series. However, later in the book, it becomes clear that God is never discussed in this church, just messages of obeying a higher power.


Trying to guess what town he is in on page 20, the man at one point considers Cremona. Cremona is an Italian city. On page 33, the man and another Village resident remark on Cremona being a place where violins are built; the city is the home of the world-renowned violin manufacturers, Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari.


On page 22, the man peers in through the window of what appears to be the waiting room of a closed dentist office, with copies of Vogue and Bazaar on the end tables. Vogue and Bazaar are women's fashion magazines.


The phrase "mild as Mantovani" is used on page 22. Mantovani (1905-1980) was a popular Italian light orchestra conductor.


In Chapter Four, Number 6 tries to reach Loria at the phone number COVentry-6121. This refers to a number in the English city of Coventry. When he later reaches the number, it turns out (allegedly) to be the number of Better Books in Covent Garden instead. Covent Garden is a district of London; Better Books was an actual independent book store at the time, near the Covent Garden district.


On page 27, Number 6 smokes a small cigar. In "The Schizoid Man", Number 6 was also seen to smoke a cigar.


On page 28, the Village orchestra plays Ziehrer's Faschingskinder Waltz. This is an actual waltz by Austrian composer Karl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922).


On page 29, Number 6 muses that the people in charge of the Village could not be expecting him to respond with Pavlovian simplicity to stimulus. This is a reference to the conditioning experiments performed on dogs by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936).


On page 30, the woman Number 6 speaks to at the Village restaurant is said to wear a Tyrolian hat. This is a type of hat, usually with a small feather in it, from the Tyrol region of the Alps of Austria and Italy.


On page 31, an elderly violinist in the restaurant finishes playing Humoresque. A clarinet then begins to play Swedish Rhapsody. Humoresques is an 1894 piece originally written for piano by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904). Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 is the subtitle of Midsommarvaka (Midsummer Vigil), by Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960).


The woman in the restaurant claims the sketch she drew on the napkin is a map of the layout of the Prater. The Prater is a large public park in Vienna, Austria.


On page 33, the woman in the restaurant claims she was born in the Village and has never left it, musing on the fantasy of visiting the Italian cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome. The young maid, Number 66, who serves Number 6 in "Arrival", claims she has been in the Village for as long as she can remember, since she was a child.


The woman says she regularly reads National Geographic and is a member of the Society. National Geographic is a magazine published by the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization


On page 35, the woman takes her leave of the restaurant and Number 6, says, "Wiederseh'n." This is German for "Goodbye."


On page 36, the woman on the phone from Better Books asks Number 6 if he's Lee Harwood. Harwood is a British poet who has been associated with the British Poetry Revival, as has Better Books.


Page 38 describes the clerk at the stationers as suitably dressed for a dinner party in Surbiton. Surbiton is a suburban area of southwest London.


The Village stationers sells several real world magazines, none of which interest Number 6: Country Life, Car and Driver, Analog, Muscular Development, and Hair-Do (Hair-Do was also a real magazine in the '60s, but is no longer published as far as I can tell). Number 6 asks for news and politics magazines, none of which are carried in the Village: New Statesman, The Spectator, Newsweek.


On page 48, Number 2 explains to Number 6 the reasoning for using number designations for the residents of the Village instead of names, saying it's more convenient and reasonable seeing as how there is only one of a number, but could be multiple individuals of the same first or last name. He remarks that, in Number 6's case, there might be any number of people with the same first or last name as him. This implies that Number 6 has a fairly common first and last name, possibly a hint that he is John Drake (both well-known names in England), actor Patrick McGoohan's character in Danger Man, as many fans (and even some of the show's contributors!) believe.


Number 6 is preparing Eggs Beaugency for supper on page 48. This is a French poached eggs dish made with the same ingredients described here.


On page 49, Number 2 and Number 6 quote Horace to each other: "Who then is free? The wise man who can govern himself," and "Hic murus aeneus esto, nilconscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.” The second quote is Latin for, "Be this our wall of brass, to be conscious of no ill, to turn pale with no guilt." Horace (65-8 BC) was a Roman lyric poet.


On page 50, Number 2 accuses Number 6 of a lack of mutuality. This harkens back to "A Change of Mind", in which some Village residents, including Number 6, were declared "unmutual".


Also on page 50, Number 2 quotes from a poem by James Newton Matthews. Matthews (1852-1910) was an American doctor, philosopher and poet. The poem is "If All Who Hate Would Love Us".


Number 84 is a woman who was responsible for stocking the kitchen in Number 6's new cottage.


On page 51, Number 2 states that most of the Village residents work, but Number 6 will not be required to. In the original Village, Number 6 also was never seen to work, though he was apparently provided work units with which to make purchases.


On page 52, Number 2 states there are three acknowledged chess masters in the Village. This harkens back to at least one chess master in "Checkmate".


Number 2 goes on to say they have a number of sportsmen in the Village, no less than four elevens. I have no idea what "four elevens" represents. Anyone?


Number 6's dossier says he likes boating. Perhaps this is why he's so good at building rafts, as seen in "The Chimes of Big Ben" and "Many Happy Returns".


Number 83 is among the security personnel of the Village.


Number 189 is a sweeper.


When Number 6 earlier strayed too far from the Village limits, he was stopped by one of the balloon-like Guardian spheres. Later, Number 2 warns Number 6 that if he oversteps the boundaries of the Village as he did before, he will be brought back, and Number 6 retorts, "By your big white balls?"


Number 2 refers to the balloon-like spheres as Guardians. This term was used in most of the TV scripts featuring Rover. In this version of the Village, the Guardians actually come in several colors beyond white: pink, baby-blue, mint-green, and one in fawn that is the only deadly one, the only one called Rover.


On page 53, Number 2 and Number 6 discuss Wordsworth and Lovelace; they were both English poets. The poem quoted by Number 2 is "To Althea, From Prison" by Lovelace, not Wordsworth, as Number 6 correctly states. The second quote Number 2 makes, again incorrectly attributing it to Wordsworth, is from Richard II by Shakespeare.


On page 54, Number 6 thinks of Number 2 as a bit of a Polonius. Polonius is the father of Hamlet in Shakespeare's Hamlet, and is shown to be wrong about virtually every judgment he makes.


Pages 54 and 55 reveal that Number 6 has been in the Village previously and escaped. But someone has wiped his memory of his previous visit and possibly implanted false memories of his "real" life as well. Number 2 claims it was not he or the powers-that-be of the Village who did it, and that seems to be the case, judging from Number 2's discussion with others later. But it's never revealed in the book who did wipe his memory, nor is it revealed how he escaped the first time.


On page 57, Number 2 remarks that he thinks a Spanish philosopher once said, "Life is but a dream." But he is probably referring to Lewis Carroll's acrostic poem "Life is But a Dream".


On page 58, Number 2 attributes the phrase "know thyself" to Socrates. Socrates (469-399 BC) was a Greek philosopher who has been attributed with originating the saying, but there are many other contenders as well.


Also on page 58, Number 6 quotes from Hamlet, "To thine own self be true." This is one of Polonius' lines from Act I, Scene 3. Number 2 then goes on to deliberately misquote Polonius, "And it must follow as the night the day, thou canst then be false to any man," the correct line being, "And it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."


Number 14 here seems to be the same Number 14, a blond, female doctor who manipulates dreams and memory, from the episode "A, B, and C". Here though, she is described as having one blue and one brown eye, which was not evident in "A, B, and C".


Again on page 58, Number 2 suggests it was Bismarck who said, "You can’t make an omelette without poaching eggs," and Number 6 corrects him that it was Jean Valjean. Number 2 is probably referring to Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire 1871-1890. Jean Valjean is a character in Victor Hugo's 1862 novel Les Misérables, though he did not say this either, as far as I can tell. But the two Numbers seem to jesting with each other at this point. (The usual saying is "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs," and is an old English idiom.)


On page 59, Numbers 2 and 6 mention Robert Lowell and Jean-Paul Sartre. Lowell was an American poet, Sartre a French philosopher and writer.


Also on page 59, Number 2 remarks that Number 6 finding out, after what has already been a hard day, that someone has diddled with his head, is the unkindest cut of all. The phrase "unkindest cut of all" is from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.


On pages 59-60, Number 2 quotes from the poem "Begin Again" by Susan Coolidge. Coolidge (1835-1905) was an American children's author.


Part II of the book opens with a quote from the 1926 Franz Kafka novel The Castle, which shares many similar themes to The Prisoner. Stronger elements of The Castle also appear in the unofficial computer game spin-off of the series, also called The Prisoner in 1980.


On page 63, Number 6 has scoped out the Village for all of the cameras placed by his "Argus-eyed jailers". Argus is a 100-eyed giant in Greek mythology.


Page 64 refers to the Minoan complexity of the corridors of the Village administration building. Minos was the king of Crete in Greek mythology and he would make King Aegeus of Athens send children into Daedalus' labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur.


At the administrative building, Number 6 encounters the beige sphere acting as Cerberus, the Guardian called Rover. Cerberus is the three-headed dog of Greek mythology said to guard the gates of the underworld.


On page 65, the Village church is referred to as being Lombardic. This refers to Lombardy, an historic region of Italy.


The church is said to have an altarpiece by Cosimo Tura, possibly an original stolen from the Colleoni chapel in the last days of the war. Cosimo Tura (1430–1495) was an Italian Renaissance painter. The Colleoni chapel is a church and mausoleum in Italy; it did suffer a degree of destruction and theft during WWII.


On page 65, Number 6 is already planning on finding ways to distinguish between the jailers and the jailed in the Village, just as mentioned in the episodes "Free for All" and "Checkmate".


    Page 69 describes the church as resplendent with Old Masters. An Old Master is a work of art such as a painting, drawing, or print from a recognized European artist of great skill before 1800. Number 6 suspects many of them in the church to be originals stolen from their places of display over the last quarter-century, including Bellini’s Massacre of the Innocents from the Hermitage; a graphic Ribera martyrdom of a flaying; the missing panel from the Isenheim Altarpiece, representing the temptations of St Anthony; and the Rouault “Judge” from New York.

   Giovanni Bellini (1430–1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter. As far as I can find, he did not directly do a Massacre of the Innocents painting, though an assistant of his, Girolamo Meceto, did, and the work of a Master's assistant is often considered as a work of the Master in the art world. This work is in the National Gallery in Washington D.C. however, not the Hermitage. The Massacre of the Innocents is the Biblical story of the infanticide ordered by King Herod, to kill all young male children in Bethlehem to prevent the prophesied new King of the Jews (Jesus) from living to replace him.

   Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652) was a Spanish painter known for his works on the Biblical martyrs. The work suggested here may be his print of The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, which depicts Bartholomew being flayed alive. It's on display at the National Museum, Warsaw.

   The Isenheim Altarpiece is by Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald from the 16th Century. It is in the Unterlinden Museum in France, but there is no missing panel.

   Georges Rouault (1871-1958) was a French painter who did several paintings of judges, expressing a less than approving attitude towards human justice.


The Rubens painting described on page 70 must be Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, based on the description.


Page 70 mentions an ormolu frame on an altar, copied from Boulle. This is probably a reference to André Charles Boulle (1642-1732), a French cabinet and furniture maker.


After entering the secret passage in the church, on page 72 Number 6 finds a number of locked doors, the sixth door finally opening. He should maybe have taken the fact that it was the sixth door as an indication that he was meant to find the contents of this room.


Behind the sixth door, Number 6 finds quite a number of film canisters as well as a Martina ashtray (an ashtray from a Marcos Martina sports car) and a crumpled Senior Service package (Senior Service is an expensive brand of filterless cigarettes in the UK).


In the sixth room, Number 6 finds seventeen of the film canisters marked with a red 6 followed by letter abbreviations. The canisters mentioned are 6-SCHIZ, 6-MHR, and 6-FIN. It seems clear, from a Prisoner fan's perspective, that the seventeen canisters labeled 6 are representative of the seventeen episodes of the TV series! 6-SCHIZ stands for "The Schizoid Man" (which is clear when he watches the footage of himself and his double, Number 12), 6-MHR is "Many Happy Returns", and 6-FIN probably represents the "finale" episode, "Fall Out".


Through another door, Number 6 sees someone watching a film of Number 48 (the wife of the goitered man from earlier in the novel) being put through Pre-Terminal Aphasic Therapy. (A young male Number 48 is seen in "Fall Out".) Aphasic therapy is usually applied to individuals who have suffered brain damage resulting in a loss of ability to use language effectively. Here, it seems she is just being brainwashed to be an obedient little citizen.


Page 75 mentions Châlons-sur-Marne. This is a city in France, now called Châlons-en-Champagne since 1998.


The description of Number 6's face on page 76 is a pretty accurate one of actor Patrick McGoohan.


Throughout the 6-SCHIZ film-viewing sequence, author Disch seems to take a few jabs at the writing, acting, and design aesthetic of the show!


As he watches himself in the film called 6-SCHIZ, Number 6 notices that the Village depicted therein is slightly different in look. He speculates there may be a number of facsimile Villages scattered around. This would imply that the film depicts the Village as seen in the TV series and that the current Village he finds himself in is a different one, as suggested by any number of differences presented in the novel, such as a train station, a shingle beach, different colored Guardians, etc.


The dialog between Number 6 and Number 12 in the 6-SCHIZ film (pages 77-80) is very close to that seen in the episode, but slightly different. It's possible the author was working from the original script, not accounting for the shooting script or any changes/ad-libs that occurred on set. Page 78 also describes Numbers 6 and 12 wearing identical jackets, which was the original intent in the script, but was changed to one of them wearing a white jacket to make it easier for the viewing audience to tell the two apart. 6 and 12 also engage in a foot race here, not seen in the episode.


Page 78 mentions Xerox.


Page 80 mentions the Ziegfeld Follies and IBM. The Ziegfeld Follies were elaborate Broadway revues presented from 1907-1931. IBM is a multinational technology company.


Page 80 describes the Number 2 of "The Schizoid Man" as having an "Oxonian accent that only a few Fulbright scholars ever master". "Oxonian" refers to an alumni of the University of Oxford. "Fulbright" is a reference to the Fulbright Program, an educational grant for international study sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He is also described as a young man wearing hornrim glasses; in the episode, he does not wear glasses.


On page 82, Number 6 observes Rhine cards, part of ESP lore, in the film. These cards are actually called Zener cards, designed by perceptual psychologist Karl Zener (1903–1964), who worked with parapsychologist J. B. Rhine (1895–1980) testing subjects for extrasensory perception in the 1930s. In "The Schizoid Man", Number 6 used these to test Number 24's ESP ability.


Page 83 describes the Rover in the film as beige, though it was always white in the televised episodes.


Page 84 implies that Number 12 (the Prisoner's double) was digested by Rover in "The Schizoid Man". In the televised episode, it is only implied he was killed by Rover, not how. Page 84 here states that only some metal objects on his person, some dental fillings, and a small head plate from his skull were left over. If this is the case, it would debunk the fan theory that Number 1 (revealed as someone looking just like Number 6) in "Fall Out" was Number 12, possibly resuscitated after his death just as Number 2 was.


Two other film canisters are mentioned among the 6-specific ones, 2-POLIT and 14-LESB. Since the 6-films obviously document the life of Number 6 in the (prior) Village, it would seem to follow that these two films document portions of Number 2's and Number 14's existence there. "POLIT" may refer to "politico" to describe Number 2. What then is LESB for Number 14, our female doctor? Lesbian? In her previous appearance in "A, B, and C" we get no indication of her sexuality one way or the other. And it would seem that she is heterosexual here since she repeatedly claims to have fallen in love with Number 6 and demonstrates it more than once in the course of the novel. But we have seen that another doctor, Number 23, in "Checkmate" was able to brainwash Number 8 into falling in love with Number 6. Could the same thing have happened here, with Number 14 brainwashed to fall in love with him, despite her (speculated) lesbian leanings? It is interesting to note that the book's author, Disch, was homosexual himself.


Page 85 has Number 6 reminiscing on his past missions in Ostrava, Krakow, Skawina, and Wadowice. Ostrava is a city in Czechoslovakia, the others in Poland.


Page 86 mentions black-and-white Reuters photographs. Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London.


Page 87 shows that Number 6 is respectful of the artwork he's disturbed in the church and does his best to minimize the damage he's forced to do to it.


As he is about to make his escape on page 92, Number 6 builds a portable cage for himself, using "Euclid's geometry" in a bid to counteract the Guardians. Euclid was an ancient Greek mathematician and considered the father of geometry.


As Number 6 taunts the Guardian, he runs back and forth, never far from the cage he will use as protection and weapon, "El Cordobes, clowning close beside the barreras." El Cordobes was a famous matador in Spain in the 1960s. Barreras is Spanish for "barriers".


On page 93, Number 6 tricks the Guardian into plummeting off a cliff and it lands with a small explosion, destroying it. On page 97, Number 2 says the engineers are already making modifications to insure against the Guardians making such a mistake again.


Number 2 is able to speak through Rover and even remote control its actions to a degree. He even at one point switches the Guardian's audio to play Muzak from the Village P.A. system, a rendition of Sigmund Romberg’s Desert Song. This is a 1926 Broadway operatta by Romberg, an Austro-Hungarian composer.


The poem quoted by Number 2 on page 95 is “The Value of a Smile” by Wilbur D. Nesbit.


The waitress at the Village cafe who has an attraction to Number 6 is Number 127.


As a Village helicopter hovers above him, the escaping Number 6 is referred to as a struggling Damocles below. "Damocles" refers to a Greek legend that tells of a man named Damocles who exclaimed that the emperor Dionysius was truly fortunate for all his power and fortune. Dionysius offered to let Damocles exchange lives with him for a day so he may feel what it's like and the man eagerly agrees. Damocles is then treated like a king and enjoys a sumptuous meal in the court. Only after he finishes eating does he notice a sword dangling precariously above him, held by a thread, whereupon Damocles asks the emperor's leave, saying he no longer wants to be so fortunate.


On page 101, Number 2 tells Number 6, "Molto bravo!" This is Italian for "Very good!"


On page 101, Number 6 stands on a hill, looking down to potential freedom, and compares himself to Moses at the bank of the Jordan. In the Old Testament, Moses assembled the Jewish tribes on the eastern bank of the Jordan River to declare they would live here, in the land of Israel.


The helicopter pilot on page 101 is Number 19.


Page 103 implies that Number 2 would like to bring the Lake Poets to the Village for rehabilitation. The Lake Poets were a group of poets from the Lake District of England at the turn of the nineteenth century.


On page 104, Number 6 tells Number 2, regarding the illusion of escaping, “If I can sustain the illusion long enough, it would be as good as a reality," and attributes the idea to Bishop Berkley. George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, was an 18th Century Irish philosopher who conceived of the concept of immaterialism or subjective idealism, that only the mind and its mental contents exist. Number 6 goes on to say that the jailer experiences a larger degree of futility than the jailed, as, if all of the prisoners escaped, the jailer would still be left, "a jailer in a jail, the prisoner of a tautology." "Tautology" is a "self-reinforcing pretense of significant truth".


On page 107, Number 2 quotes the poem "Pluck Wins". This is an unattributed poem that appeared in the 1905 compilation Heart Throbs in Prose and Verse Dear to the American People and by Them by Joe Mitchell Chapple. Number 2 mentions the book in his note on page 199.


Also on page 107, as Number 6 escapes, Number 2 tells him to give his regards to his friend Mr. Thorpe in London. Page 113 gives Thorpe's first name as Dobbin. In "Many Happy Returns", Thorpe was the name of one of the men in London who question Number 6's sudden return to society and his story of having been held prisoner in a place called the Village; the same actor then went on to play Number 2 in "Hammer Into Anvil", though it is not clear whether he is intended to be Thorpe again or not. The name Dobbin Thorpe was also used by this book's author, Thomas M. Disch, as a pseudonym on a few short stories.


On page 109, the receptionist at the agency building in London looks at a fashion magazine and photos of boots by Herbert Levine (a luxury shoe manufacturer) and "Nomad Look" cosmetics from Ultima II.


At his club, on page 111, Number 6 is seen to prefer to drink Scotch. That was not one of the drinks he ordered in "The Girl Who Was Death", nor even at the alcohol-free Cat and Mouse in "Free for All".


On page 113, the Colonel (seemingly the same Colonel from "Many Happy Returns") is called Colonel Schjeldahl. In "Many Happy Returns", Number 6 once refers to him as James, so, if it is the same colonel, he is Colonel James Schjeldahl.


On page 114, Thorpe accuses Number 6 of having a story (about the Village) that Hans Christian Andersen would reject as a fairy tale. Andersen (1805-1875)  was a Danish writer, particularly known for his fairy tales.


On page 116, Number 6 and Thorpe briefly discuss meeting Taggert, who would seem to be a person in a position of authority at the agency 6 used to work for. 6 is trying to get Thorpe to arrange a meeting and Thorpe ironically remarks that before 6's "retirement", it was 6 who stood between Taggert and himself.


On pages 115-117, Number 6 watches the 6-MHR film he smuggled out of the Village (in the 14-LESB canister) on a Bell & Howell projector. He sees a scene from "Many Happy Returns", but it takes place on a golf course instead of in an office room as in the episode.


Page 116 suggests "Mood Indigo" being played on a piano in a cocktail bar. "Mood Indigo" is a jazz song originally performed by Duke Ellington.


On page 117, Number 6 is knocked out by gas again in his hotel room. He wakes up back in the Village, just as occurred initially in "Arrival" and later in "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling".


The technical nurse on page 119 is Number 96.


Number 14's main assistant is Number 28.


The laser used by Number 14 to code images onto Number 6's retina is called the Behemoth.


In Number 6's manipulated dream on page 121, a preacher reads "The Crime of the Ancient Mariner" from a book. This is a reference to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", a 1798 poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The mariner in the poem does, in a sense, commit a crime, by killing an albatross on the ship which had led the ship out of the Antarctic, where a storm had blown them off course. The killing of the bird seems to bring bad luck to the ship and its crew.


On page 122, Number 2 makes mention of several Village residents, 3-13, but saying nothing of 5. Is there something special about Number 5? (Number 7 is later revealed to be Number 14's brother and, after that, is revealed to have been Number 2 himself.)


Also on page 122, Number 14 describes Number 2's suspicions about her as "baroque" and he corrects her with, "Rococo, if you like." Baroque and Rococo are differing, detailed artistic movements in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Much of the architectural design of the Village would be considered rococo.


On page 125, Number 6 is dreaming of pushing Rover up a hill and Number 2 remarks that it's an allusion to Sisyphus. Sisyphus was an ancient king in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods for deceit and made to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down the other side where he had to roll it up again, over-and-over forever. Number 6 goes on to dream that Hell is filled with The Sound of Music; this is a 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical. He also thinks of The Mousetrap; this was a 1952 murder mystery play written by Agatha Christie.


The poem fragment on page 125 is from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner".


Liora is brought into the Village as Number 41, brainwashed to have forgotten ever having known the man called Number 6 and believing her name to be Lorna instead.


On page 134, Number 34, the husband of the Mayoress of the Village, is referred to as a pigeon, even bobbing his head up and down excitedly. Pigeons are known for such head-bobbing behavior. The Mayoress is Number 33; note that the Mayoress and her spouse have been assigned consecutive numbers, similar to the daughter and father Numbers 50 and 51 in "It's Your Funeral".


Page 135 mentions hand-sewn cordovans from Maxwell's, Dover Street. Cordovan is a type of leather and Maxwell's a London boot and shoe maker since 1750 (now located on Jermyn Street).


Since his beating at the hands of Number 6, Number 83 is now wearing his arm in a bright Madras sling. "Madras" is a term for cloth printed with colorful cross-hatching lines.


Nobody seems to know what Granny's number is, other residents guessing 18, 42, and 60. She is later revealed to be Number 1...and a robot! (Or at least partially robotic.) Could she be the same old woman who greeted Number 6 when he woke up in the hospital after his encounter with Rover in "Arrival" (they both share an interest in embroidering!).


Page 136 states that Number 6 has been released from the hospital still reeling from sodium pentathol. Sodium pentathol is an anesthetic and is also popularly known in fiction as a truth serum (though the real world efficacy of it as truth serum is questionable).


On page 137, one of the committee members holds his Homburg in his lap. A Homburg is a type of felt hat.


Page 137 reveals the clerk at the stationer to be Number 98.


On page 140, Number 7 mentions The Tales of Hoffman. This was a French opera of the fantastic, first performed in 1881.


On page 141, Number 7 refers to the bathroom as the W.C. This stands for "water closet", an early term for a room containing a flush toilet.


On page 145, Number 6 makes mention of the seven deadly sins. According to early Christianity, the seven deadly sins are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.


Also on page 145, Number 7 remarks that there is such a thing as a sixth column. A fifth column is a group of people who work to undermine another from within. A sixth column is a group that works secretly for change without turning traitor to the larger group.


Again on page 145, Number 7 uses the idiom "around the twist" about Number 8. This is a British idiom similar to "around the bend", i.e. to go crazy.


Page 148 describes Liora/Lorna as having a Sassoon haircut. This is a reference to Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012), a British hairdresser who become internationally known for the hairstyles he designed.


On page 149, Number 6 uncaps a Schweppes as he fixes a drink for Liora/Lorna. Schweppes is an international beverage brand, best known for its carbonated waters and ginger ales. Apparently, the current Village stocks the brand!


On page 150, Liora/Lorna reveals that she was kidnapped on July 7 from her flat in Bayswater. Bayswater is an area in Westminster, Central London.


Liora/Lorna tells Number 6 that after she learned that no one was allowed to leave the Village, she went to the local restaurant and enjoyed the view from the Tarpeian Rock before being given a note to see Number 6 at his cottage. The Tarpeian Rock is traditionally the steep cliff of Capitoline Hill, overlooking the Roman Forum in Ancient Rome, where executions took place by flinging the condemned party to their death off the face. She may be symbolically telling him that she was contemplating suicide off the cliffs near the Village.


Liora/Lorna mentions the Savoy hotel in London on page 151.


On page 152, Liora/Lorna refers to Number 6 as Mr. Pirandello. I'm unsure of the reference. Possibly she is referring to Italian writer Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936), but why she would, I don't know.


Also on page 152, Liora/Lorna makes reference to Occam's razor. Occam's razor is a principle which suggests that the simplest possible answer that fits the facts of a puzzle is probably the correct one. It was devised by William of Ockham (1287–1347), an English Franciscan friar and philosopher.


On page 154, Number 6 remarks on he and Liora/Lorna having a Verdalho (sic) Madeira at the Connaught. Verdelho is a type of white wine grape, best known for being grown in Madeira, Portugal.


On page 156, Number 6 tells Liora/Lorna there are more bugs in his cottage than in an embassy in Washington. Washington is certainly a reference to Washington D.C.


Also on page 156, Liora/Lorna makes a reference to Helen, doubting her charms could rival that of the legend's. This would be a reference to Helen of Troy, a figure in Greek mythology who was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.


On page 157, Liora/Lorna remarks that if she knew she would spend the rest of her life in a place like the Village after her "life of sin", she'd have stayed at the university and taught courses in Pound and Eliot. This is a reference to poets Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.


Number 6 tells Lorna that the Liora he knew had a flat on Chandos Place. Chandos Place is a street in London, just off the Strand.


Page 157 makes mention of New Hall porcelain. This is porcelain that was made at the New Hall factory at Shelton in England.


On page 157, Lorna tells Number 6 she has no particular affinity for cathedrals, despite his memories of her, remarking she wouldn't drive 10 miles out of her way for St. Peter's. She is referring to St. Peter's Cathedral in Exeter, England.


Page 157 also reveals that Lorna had read much of the work of Henry James, while Liora refused to read him, saying he was antiquated. Henry James (1843-1916) was an American-British writer, a key figure in the literary realism style.


On page 159, Lorna mentions Judas and the moment of the kiss. In the Bible, Judas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, gives Jesus a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane as a means of identifying him to the Roman temple guards so they can arrest him.


On page 160, Number 6 mentions Portobello Road. This is a street in west London.


On page 161, Lorna mentions Charing Cross. Charing Cross is a junction of streets just south of Trafalgar Square in London.


On page 165, Number 14 tells Number 6 that the Village hospital has never had a single case of staph infection as far as she knows. "Staph" is a shorthand term for diseases caused by various species of Staphylococcus bacteria.


On page 167, Number 6 tells Number 14 that he's decided to stage a performance of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, and she asks if that's the one set in the Forest of Arden and he tells her no, it's in Vienna. The play she is thinking of is Shakespeare's As You Like It.


The characters, settings, lines of dialog, etc. of Measure for Measure mentioned through the last quarter of the novel are all actual elements of the play.


On page 175, Number 7 tells his sister that Number 6 is staging his play and accompanying escape attempt for the benefit of Mata Hari. Mata Hari was an exotic dancer in France who was convicted and executed as a spy for Germany in WWI. Number 7 is comparing her to Liora/Lorna.


On page 176, Number 7 mentions Phaeton, Icarus, and Medea. These are all figures from Greek mythology.


Also on page 176, Number 7 promises his sister they'll be together again soon after her escape, “You can stake your blue eyes on it." But as mentioned as recently as the previous page, she has just one blue eye (and one brown)!


Number 7 suggests to his sister that they meet at the Tower of London to be reunited, but she balks at meeting at what amounts to another prison and they agree on Westminster Bridge, on the side by Big Ben. Shortly after, Number 6 and Liora/Lorna make the same arrangement for Westminster Bridge. The Tower of London is a castle on the bank of the River Thames in London that served as a prison from 1100-1952. The site of Westminster Bridge, on the side by Big Ben is the same location where Number 6, Number 2, and the Butler left their Scammell truck after their escape from the Village in "Fall Out".


On page 178, Number 7 licks nervously at the fringe of the horsehair mustache on his upper lip. Horsehair is often used in the making of wigs and false mustaches and beards.


On page 182, Liora/Lorna remarks to Number 6 that she's learned, after she'd been chained to the dragon's rock, that there's a Perseus too. She is referring to the Greek mythological hero Perseus, who freed the princess Andromeda from the rock on which she'd been chained as a sacrifice to the giant sea serpent Cetus. In her current circumstances, she is comparing herself to Andromeda and Number 6 to Perseus, freeing her from the Village.


On page 184, Number 6 resumes his role in the play as the Duke, devising Machiavellian schemes. "Machiavellian" refers to cunning and duplicitous schemes to gain or wield power, named after Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), writer of The Prince, a guide on how an individual may gain and maintain power.


On page 187, Number 7 tells his sister to get out on stage and "break your leg". The actual phrase is "break a leg", a theater idiom for wishing a performer good luck in an ironic, reverse way, in the belief that's it's bad luck to wish a performer good luck.


On page 194, Number 6 is given an award for his presentation of the play, a plaque "with his number etched on the gilt plate beneath two masks, one that smiled and one that frowned." The two masks are the comedy-and-tragedy masks, long-associated symbol of the theater. A combination comedy/tragedy mask was worn by the assembly members and Number 1 in "Fall Out".


On page 196, Number 14 refers to the letters left for her and Number 6 from Number 7 after his betrayal of them as his Parthian shot. The Parthian shot was a military tactic used by the Parthians of ancient Iran to have archers fire back at their enemies while retreating at full gallop on horseback.


On page 197, Number 2's note to Number 6 mentions de L’Isle-Adam’s "The Torture of Hope". This is a short story by French writer Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1838-1889).


The poem in Number 2's note on page 200 is an abbreviated version of "Should You Feel Inclined to Censure", an anonymous poem from ~1863 which appears in Heart Throbs in Prose and Verse Dear to the American People and by Them.


On pages 208-209, Number 14 mentions four unnamed dictators, "those four paragons of the Golden Age of Authority, the ’30’s and ’40’s." The four unnamed dictators she refers to are probably Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Hirohito.


As she explains Number 1's desire to have Number 6 as the permanent Number 2, worshipping One, she remarks on Number 6's current worship only of Platonic ideals such as Truth, Freedom, and Justice. She is referring to the ideals written of by the Greek philosopher Plato, particularly in The Republic (~380 BC).


On pages 209-210, Number 14 uses the term "orbit" to describe how Number 1 would like to be worshipped, "a worshipful orbit about the sun of that exalted idea: One, Oneness, Number 1." Possibly this ties in to the tubes holding Number 48 and Number 2 labeled Orbit 48 and Orbit 2 in Number 1's rocket in "Fall Out"; the orbit number, which corresponds to the individual's Village designation, may be an indicator of how "worthy" the individual is in Number 1's estimation of their actual or potential piety to him.


As Number 6 floats in a sensory deprivation tank, Number 14's voice tells him he has surrendered all of his senses until only her voice ties him to reality, like Ishtar disrobing on her progress through the seven gates. Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. Part of her mythology states that she descended to the Underworld, being required to shed an article of clothing for each of the seven gates she passed through, until she was naked after passing the seventh gate.


On page 215, Granny shows Number 6 two types of stitches in her embroidery, a scroll stitch and a dorando stitch. A scroll stitch is a type of looped stitch used in embroidery. "Dorando stitch" does not seem to be a real world term.


The medical aide who assists the new Number 2 (former Number 6) with Number 127 is Number 263. An old man with a penny-farthing was Number 263 in "Arrival".


On page 222, Number 2/6 remarks that a suicide is a graver threat to the Village than an escape, as an escapee can be brought back and a corpse can not. Of course, the seemingly dead Number 2 of "Once Upon a Time" was brought back in "Fall Out".


In Chapter 19, Granny is revealed to be Number 1. And a robot, or at least partially robotic.


When Number 2/6 asks Number 1 if she came to this Village or made it, she tells him she made it.


On page 233, Number 6 recalls a time from his childhood when he was riding a school bus with the other boys singing an endless refrain of “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because...” The song “We’re here because we’re here” is a sort of nonsense song containing only those same lyrics over and over, sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne".


On page 239, the robotic Number 1 is damaged and close to ceasing functions. It warns that if it should meet its demise, "measures been taken to assure the certain annihilation of this Village."


On page 240, Number 14 has somehow arranged to have the Butler waiting with Number 6's car, to take him back to London. This may be an indication that even now Number 6 is still a prisoner.


On page 242, Number 6 laments to Number 14 that even though he seems to have gained his freedom now, he'll never really know if it's real and how much she fiddled with his mind in the tank. She remarks, "Dr. Johnson had the best solution: go kick a stone, and let the stone prove to your foot that they’re both real.” Dr. Johnson was Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), a British writer who refuted Bishop Berkeley's concept of immaterialism by kicking a stone and proclaiming, "I refute it thus!"

Unanswered Questions

Who wiped Number 6's memory? Number 2 claims it was not he and his cohorts in the Village. Was it Number 1 in her bid to make him the new Number 2? Was it the agency he used to work for? Some other unseen party?

Does Number 6 ever regain his full memory? Some passages in the following novel, Number Two, suggest he may not have.

At the end of the novel, has Number 6 finally escaped for good? It seems not, if the events of Number Two are to be accepted as a continuation of the story. Even if he has, it seems that his memories of his past life are still altered.

Did Number 14 manage to save Number 1 and prevent the annihilation of the Village? On the last page of the book, it does seem that Number 1's mental acuity is improving.

Back to Prisoner Episode Studies