The game begins with a car wreck, which makes sense, since this is the reason
Cheryl doesn’t have her father with her anymore. since the opening car wreck
may or may not be exactly as it was in reality, I’m not sure if Cheryl was
really there or not. It’s easy to assume she was, based on SH1 and on Harry
believing she was there, but I still can’t be certain.Later, Harry and young
Dahlia are in the SUV and they crash, which I think it Cheryl projecting
herself into the situation and making herself seem more guilty, since it
was Dahlia in the driver’s seat this time. It still wasn’t really Dahlia’s
fault,they crashed due to the snow; but it is interesting that she’s driving
and not Harry. Lisa has a car wreck, too; she fell asleep at the wheel.There
is yet another apparent car wreck in an echo message,not the message itself,
but when you take a photo of the car outside the school, it appears to be
crashing. There is an echo photo you can take on the street near the park,
and the accompanying message says that they’ve hit a dog. Also of possible
interest is the note about toy calls being recalled due to being a choking
hazard. This further drives home the idea of cars hurting people, and it
manages to refer back to choking as well.
Later, in the scene where Harry is swimming, you can look underwater and see
a statue of the original car wreck with Harry lying dead on the ground.
So we can tally this up: Harry is present in 3 car wrecks in the game, the
original one, the one with Dahlia, and the statue of the wreck. Lisa wrecks,
and the dog is hit by a car. What is real? Obviously the statue is not, but
it’s clear that Harry originally died in a real car wreck. The pet dog was
hit by a car as well. Cars and death are linked all over the place here.
There is also a train wreck, if you count the toy train.
If you use the flashlight in the nightmare sequences, you can see many
cars frozen in big blocks of ice. One of the first buildings you enter
has a car jacked up so it can be worked on. There is an auto repair shop you
pass before getting to Clear Picture. At the mall, there’s a singing contest
where you can win a car. Clear Picture’s back room has a poster for a film
called “Night Drive.” The Bryant Overlook echo is located in a car, and there
is a memento in the trunk. Near the school, there’s another echo when you
get to the blue car. Then there’s the echo on the car near the park, and
the dead dog echo in front of car. And of course, the game starts with a
car crash, and there’s the underwater car crash. Lisa has a wreck.
I’m not sure about this, but they need to be mentioned because there are
a lot of references to dogs here. There is the “dead dog posse” graffiti,
probably just a reference to SH1. Then one of the password reminder
questions refers to a dog as the principle’s one true friend. All the
humans mentioned in the password questions are cast in an unfavorable
light: the bitch ex-wife, the useless son. The dog is cast as the one
likeable and trustworthy being. There are some phone messages about dogs
as well, and the photo of Cheryl with a dog. There is a dog toy in an
office also. The dog was apparently later killed by a car, and then
secretly replaced. [Note: I really doubt that this deception could work.]
It is likely that Cheryl had a very beloved pet dog at some time, which
was killed, probably by getting hit by a car. The dog themes are important,
I think, or they wouldn’t show up so much.
There’s also that cat poster in the alley at the beginning of the game.
Some kid lost his cat and made posters. Cheryl lost her dog, due to it
being hit by Harry’s car.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
Drugs are a recurring theme in a few of the games. In SH1, there is
White Claudia. You can see some baggies of drugs in Indian Runner, and
there are some police station memos about drugs as well. Lisa is
addicted to drugs in SH1.
In SHSM, there are a lot of drugs references. There is a poster in the
school telling drugs facts, with a photo of marijuana leaves on it. There
is a pot leaf graffiti in a tunnel. There are also the messages about
the party in the woods, which involve drugging “the new girl,” who
freaks out and various things might happen to her, depending on which
version of the messages you get. I don’t think it’s so much a
cautionary tale against drugs, the party messages, as illustrating that
mind-altering substances may have had a negative impact upon Cheryl in
her life. It probably doesn’t matter much if the “new girl” represents
Cheryl or not; the point is, drugs and partying have had a negative
impact either in her own life, or it could refer to Harry being drunk
and mean. Certainly, in the Drunk Dad ending, he’s hardly the ideal father,
and this would seem to be the result of overindulging in alcohol.
Alcohol is a major theme in SHSM. Some of the psychiatrist’s questions are
about alcohol, and whether or not you use it to relax. One area you can
visit is the bar. Dahlia makes numerous references to “being wasted,” she
says she’s always drunk and Harry is always drunk when he’s around her.
Michelle may fix Harry a drink in the club. One of the ending videos
suggest Harry was a drunk.
A lot of those TV-addiction counselors like to say how alcoholism and drug
abuse tends to run in families, and I think that’s what’s happening here.
RealHarry was probably a bit of a drunk. Cheryl probably drinks and parties
a bit, if you consider some of the echo messages. Or it could just
be a way of showing the way that alcohol/drugs have affected Cheryl
One thing you will notice when examining photos is that a lot of faces are
obscured. Sometimes it seems nonsensical, like in the photos of young Cheryl
playing with her dog. We know who it is, why obscure the face? I think it’s
to draw attention to the fact that faces are often obscured. The most blatant
example are the photos that Dahlia sends you with text messages. In each of
the three photos, the camera flash obscures her face. Why? Because she’s a
projection. She’s anybody. She’s you. She’s faceless this draws attention to
the strange characterisations. You may not yet have seen the endings, but it’s
weird that you can’t see her face. Once you have played more than one time,
you probably notice that people’s clothing, hair, and personality changes.
The characters start off as sort of blank slates, they then mold themselves
to a personality type based on what you do. And what’s more, this Dahlia
doesn’t really exist. There is no good reason that young Cheryl’s face is
obscured except to link it with young Dahlia in your mind, I think. You start
forming these connections in your mind even before you realize it’s all the
same person. See also the paparazzi photos. In two of them, Cheryl is
covering her face. Sure. it’s also because of the fact that some nosy person
is spying on her, but it’s also more face-obscuring. In the other photo,
she’s naked (the shower photo), which also reinforces that something is
missing or a bit off here. These aren’t the only photos, either. The
pigtails echo message girl has her head down. So does the girl in the car,
though that girl is obviously dressed like Cheryl. Cheryl outside the
cinema has her head down.
Of course, the mugshots contrast with this. Of course the face must be in
full view in a mugshot, but think about when you receive this photo. It’s
at the moment before everything is revealed. The Dahlia cellphone photos
have a level of fantasy/unreality about them. She’s not real, and the photos
serve to keep Harry locked in this denial/delusion. The mugshots of Cheryl
show the harsh reality of the situation. Harry’s dead. Cheryl has had a
rough time over the years. It’s part of the reality that she’s trying to
avoid for most of the game. Dahlia calls him when he leaves the boat, telling
him to turn back (that is, to stay in the delusion). Cybil points him in the
opposite direction, she keeps him going. She sends him a photo and text
bringing him closer to the truth. He keeps on going to the lighthouse, and
Cybil pulls him out. At this point, she is steering him further toward the
truth. I don’t want to argue how “real” anyone is at this point, but as a
cop, Cybil represents reality, facts, truth.
A lot of memos and imagery relating to Lakeside Amusement Park is related
to fantasy. “…you and your family are drawn into our make believe world.”
The game’s opening video shows Harry and Cheryl poking their heads through
the board with the knight and princess on them, thus becoming fantasy
characters. The tape suggests that this is probably one of Cheryl’s last
memories of Harry, and probably one of the most vivid, since it’s on
videotape and she can replay it over and over again. Unlike some of the
endings, it’s also a seemingly good memory of Harry; they both appear
Film & Video
This ties in closely with memory, but I think it also needs
to be mentioned on its own. It is clear that, at a young age, Cheryl
had a video recorder and used it a lot. Just like in A Clockwork Orange,
I think Cheryl feels that things only really seem real when you view
them on a screen. Memories in your head are one thing, but
Cheryl is obsessed with memories that are recorded on video,
as well. It is clear that many events in the game are not real in
any objective sense. The tapes, and possibly photos, represent some
of the only insights into Cheryl’s reality that we have.
The opening video seems rather quaint and pointless before you’ve
played the game. I remember wondering what the hell this had to
do with a Silent Hill game. what do we learn from it? Well, we
learn that Cheryl loves her daddy. And just in case we forget, it’s
rewound and repeated a few times. And Harry loves his daughter.
They seem happy enough. It’s a fairly normal-looking scene: a man
and his young daughter enjoying a day at the amusement park. It
is more than that to Cheryl, though. I am reminded of reading
about OCD and hoarding behaviors, and some people will hold
on to complete junk because it reminds them of a deceased loved
one. Throwing away the dead person’s junk seems like they are
throwing away part of the person; the memories and feelings are tied
with meaningless junk rather than just having the
memories in one’s head. This also goes back to the box of mementos;
the game even tells you they are pointless, but they once meant
something to somebody. Cheryl collects the mementos and obsessively
watches home videos.
What is a lighthouse’s purpose? To guide ships to shore, especially
if they are lost, or when the weather is bad. The lighthouse points
the way. In SHSM, lighthouses are everywhere.
“A winter Beacon,” and “A Beacon, A Key” are mementos that take
the form of lighthouses (a lighthouse in a snowglobe, and a
keychain, respectively). In the cafe or the bar, whichever
you enter, there will be a stand with a donation box to “save
our lighthouse.” There is a framed painting of a lighthouse in
Lakefront Souvenirs, and lighthouses on various signs.
And of course, it’s significant that the game ends at The Lighthouse.
The Lighthouse is the destination, it shows us the way. In the
nightmare scenes, a light, like the light from a lighthouse, can
be seen in the distance, showing us which way to run. In the
beginning, we are lost and in a fog (metaphorically, there’s not so
much real fog in this game) and once we find the lighthouse, we
find the truth.
There are a lot of themes of marriage and divorce as well. Kaufman asks you
to put together three couples,then jokes about which ones are still together.
The principle’s password reminder talks about his “bitch ex wife.” Michelle
and John have problems in their relationship. Kaufman tells the story of
Wilhelm, who wanted to marry the princess, but she wasn’t in love with him.
The king grants permission, she runs away, and is trampled by a bull. We are
then asked who is most guilty, the king, Wilhelm, the princess, or the bull.
I think the important thing about the story is that it emphasizes guilt, and
Cheryl feels guilt about her parents’ marriage. In one of the end videos, we
see Harry saying that he and his wife don’t love each other anymore,but they
both still love Cheryl. Cheryl feels guilty. Her father then dies, probably
before they get a divorce, since he’s still wearing his ring, but maybe not.
After that, Cheryl villifies her mother and idolizes her father, and also
feels guilty about his death.
Dr. K. says Cheryl has conflicted feelings about marriage.Her own parents’
marriage was on the rocks before Harry died. Dr. K says she blamed herself,
“as all children do.” The Love Lost ending illustrates the marriage breaking
up; Harry explains that he and Dahlia don’t love each other anymore,but they
both still love Cheryl. Then Harry prepares to drive away. He tries to keep
cheryl from videotaping this; it’s not something he wants to preserve.The
Adam and Eve mementos show the way Cheryl might view her parents, as sort of
the Ur-Man and the Ur-Woman, rather than just any man and woman.And yet,like
Adam and Eve, they are not infallible. Not everything works out for the best,
in Cheryl’s eyes. Their marriage breaks up. Their love does not last forever.
Regardless of her seeming feelings about her mother, she still seems to view
her as a larger than life figure. She’s conflicted about marriage because
her parents’ marriage was not working out. This is reflected in her own life,
in situations like the “Frigid” messages. She apparently has trouble showing
affection properly, and boyfriends find this off-putting. She’s looking for
a father figure, and seeks out older men, not seeing right away that this is
not appropriate and also won’t end well; the older men don’t want a long-
lasting relationship with her; they are sexually attracted to her because she
is young and cute and willing to sleep with them. Even if she has gotten over
her sexual inhibitions at this point, she still makes bad choices about what
men she is with. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, almost. She doesn’t
expect relationships to ever work, and then she puts herself in situations
with men that are guaranteed not to result in a healthy relationship.
Dr. K mentions “abnormal sexuality,” but what is this really referring
to? Is it Cheryl’s seeking out older men? That’s probably part of it,
but I think it’s also her was of looking at sexuality and relationships.
Otherwise, I don’t see the point of including the Choking Game stuff
or the pigtails wig messages. Relationships in the game are
problematic. Feelings aren’t mutual between the parties involved.
There is role-playing and abuse, even death in some situations.
In her real life, Cheryl witnessed her parents not getting along any
more. In her own life, she doesn’t seem to have had fulfilling
relationships. The Frigid messages suggest she is, well, frigid. She
is shy and not affectionate in the relationship and the guy wants to
break up for this reason. She seems to have trouble expressing her
emotions, especially affection. There is also the sexual encounters
with the teacher, but this, too, is not a healthy relationship. He’s
in a position of power because of his authority figure status and
age; her power over him is because she is young and sexually
available to him, but it isn’t really much power because she is
insecure and looking for a paternal figure.
Lisa is used to express some of Cheryl’s sentiments, especially the
idea that she looks for men who remind her of her father, and then
regrets it the next day. Obviously, her feelings on the matter of
sleeping with older men are mixed. She feels guilty about it, but
that doesn’t keep her from repeating the mistake.
Michelle likes men who look like her father, too (though John does
not). She talks fondly of John and their relationship, so that, in
the beginning, we think everything is hunky-dory with them. When we
finally meet John, we learn that it’s not. Michele has been
romanticising their relationship, it is not really working out all
that well. They break up. The “absence makes the heart grow fonder”
line is also important; it’s what is happening in the game. Harry’s
absence makes Cheryl romanticise his memory, just as Michele
romanticises about her relationship with John. The reality is not so
great; both cling to the fantasy person instead.
Though we never learn anything about Cybil’s romantic relationships
with men, we do know she was fond of her father, to the extent of
wanting to be like him. Also, she doesn’t mention him actually dying,
but she mentions a head injury, and that he was never the same after
that. She tells him to take care of himself, for his daughter’s sake.
This is important because it refers very much to Harry’s car crash
and actual death.
The principal’s family is also pretty dysfunctional. He has divorced
his wife, and refers to his son as useless, despite the cute drawing
Otto made of himself and his father (it seems an unequal relationship;
the kid seems to like his dad). It seems that the principal has been
trying to contact his ex-wife, but she refuses to talk to him, and
seems very hostile toward him. It underlines the themes of divorce,
separation, love fading over the years, etc.
“Everything one invents is true” is printed on the Poetry as Precise as
Geometry pen memento. Certainly, Cheryl is very obsessed with the idea
of this idealized father she created because she missed her real father.
Just the idea of collecting pointless mementos (they don’t affect your
game results in any way) shows how valued memories are to Cheryl. The
Adam memento says “never forget.” The Memories untaken memento, a camera
or a roll of film, says “Capture the Fun! Memories to keep forever!”
There is also a Memories Undeveloped memento, a roll of film not yet
developed. The photo store is called “Photographic Memory,” a phrase
Harry also uses when Lisa asks why he doesn’t keep a notepad with him
at all times. This is interesting because, obviously, Harry’s memory
in the game is terrible; he can never remember who people are or how
he got to certain places.
Another significant piece of dialogue occurs when you are walking with
Michelle, and she’s talking about how she and John don’t live together.
Harry: “They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Harry then says
he believes that. It goes back to how Cheryl has idealized Harry. The
longer he’s been dead, the more perfect he appears in her mind.
Cheryl is overly obsessed with her memories of Harry. Because she no
longer has the real Harry, the memories are all she has, and as time
passes, she idealizes these more and more.
SEX/DEATH vs MEMORY
Playing through the game, there are a few main branches you can take by
choice (not counting Diner/Bar, because one will be locked):
in the beginning you can go through the TV/electronics shop or the
dress shop. In the mall, you can go through the camera shop or the
hair salon. The types of shops here are interesting. TVs/VCRs that
are in the first shop represent memory; cheryl is obviously always
watching old home movies of Harry. Likewise, the camera shop
is also a way to preserve memories. What of the other two? They are
“girlier” choices, a dress shop and a hair salon. They could
represent sexuality in the sense of making oneself look good,
like the dress echo message in the dress shop. But according to
Dr. K, sex=death. Cheryl’s delusions/fantasies are
related to the preservation of real and imaginary memories,
and point more toward denial of death.
Another thing is the choice of the planetarium vs. art studio.
The planetarium may not be a camera shop, but it does represent
science more than art.
I’m not entirely sure which choices affect the appearance of things
in the game.The sex- and alcohol-related questions are apparent enough,
but I don’t know about the rest. I think it’s likely that the choice
of shops you go into makes some sort of impact, though.
There is the hanging boy in the school and all the references to “The
Choking Game.” In the forest, there is a echo about a boy who apparently
freezes to death and will soon be with his (apparently dead) brother. There
is a poster for a suicide hotline in the school.One of the momentos is a ring
that says “Ophelia” on it,and she died in “Hamlet” by drowning,then the other
characters aren’t sure what kind of burial to give her in case it was suicide.
The knife memento says “all stories end in death.”
Perhaps Cheryl was suicidal? Or it could just be another reference
to Harry’s death. The Choking Game could be some attempt to alter one’s
consciousness, or it could be autoerotic asphyxiation. The latter seems to
make more sense to me just because of the sexual themes.
SEXUALITY & ELEKTRA COMPLEX
Sex is a large theme in SHSM. Kaufman refers to sometimes to “strange
sexuality,” or saying that to deny sex is to deny death itself. He says
it’s not shrinks who are obsessed with sex, it’s really the patients.
Insofar as “strange sexuality” goes, there are some fetishistic things
referred to in the game. The bit about the “choking game” and the photo
associated with it seems to refer to autoeroticasphiyxiation; the photos
in the Cat House seem somewhat bondage-y with the leather outfits. I
doubt these things mean much, especially the Cat House stuff, I think
it’s more to just underline sexual themes in the game.
The biggest sexual “weirdness” is the Elektra-complex theme. Every woman
in the game seems to like men like their father. Michelle tells Harry he
dresses like her father. He’s offended, but then she says she likes men
who look like her father. (John doesn’t look like her father.) Lisa says
pretty much the same thing. Young Dahlia, who pretty much looks exactly
like the old Cheryl mugshot photo, has a sexual relationship with Harry.
When he forgets who she is, she asks him if he finds her attractive.
“You’re young,” he says. The videotape that is contstantly replayed
also reinforces this theme. “I love my daddy! I love my daddy! I love
my daddy!” It’s even repeated ad nauseam, so you can’t possibly ignore it.
Just like how John tells Michelle she’s not really in love with him, she’s
in love with the John in her mind, Cheryl is not really in love with Harry,
she’s obsessed with an idealized version of him in her mind. The mementos
may give some insight into this as well.
Frigidity is also a recurring theme. There are voice mails about a woman
who is frigid. Kaufman talks about denying sex, and says people who are
getting enough don’t need therapy. The whole idea of the ice worlds as
well as the snow could refer to frigidity.
Harry and Young Dahlia are presented more as archetypes than real people,
and this is further underlined by the Adam and Eve mementos, which have
pictures of Harry and Dahlia on them, respectively. Harry is being thought
of as Man, not just a Man, and Dahlia as Woman. This also helps to explain
why the women morph into one another and have similar attitudes on things
throughout the game. Harry goes to the club with Michelle, who then
turns into Dahlia, but they are both talking about the same SUV. Michelle
and Lisa are both attracted to men who look like their fathers. (The same
might be said about Young Dahlia, who has a sexual relationship with
Harry.) Harry as an archetype could also be seen in the opening video,
where he and Cheryl put their heads through the painted scene with the
princess and the knight; Harry as her knight in shining armor. “I love
my daddy.” To progress in the game, you have to request a song called
“Daddy’s Girl” on the hospital radio program. Harry says something about
Cheryl being daddy’s little girl when talking to the bartender as well.
The pigtails voicemail about “daddy’s little princess” is more of the
same. I don’t think Cybil ever overtly says anything about men like her
father; however, she does reminisce on the times she spent driving around
with him in his patrol car (apparently he was a cop, too). Sure, that’s
not the same thing, but it does make her a bit of a “daddy’s girl” as
well, if she preferred to spend her time as a kid hanging around her
dad while he was working, and then she went on to have the same profession
as him. She wanted to be like him, so she probably idolized him in a way.
One of the “paparazzi” photos appears to be Dahlia in a car with a
teacher, and it says he’s “old enough to be her father.”
What can we extrapolate about the real life version of Cheryl from all
this? I think it’s clear that she is attracted to older men and is looking
for “father figure” types. The “paparazzi” photos also allude to this, as
well as the “pigtails” messages. Young Dahlia/Cheryl is seen in a car with
a teacher, and the message says she can’t wait to get to the motel. It
also suggests she’s sleeping with the teacher and he gives her good grades.
The one “pigtails” message says the girl looks just like his daughter when
she’s wearing her wig. The game relationship of Dahlia/Harry parellels
real-Cheryl’s relationships with older men.
Addendum: After reading the interview with producer Tomm Hulett on
silenthillheaven.com, I am amazed he almost denies the Elektra complex
theme, saying she “loves her daddy,” but not in a “creepy” way. As I
said above, I don’t think she literally wants to marry her father,
either, but I just can’t fathom denying a vaguely Elektra-ish
theme given the facts of all the woman being attracted to men
who remind them of their fathers, etc.
III. OTHER CHARACTERS, GHOSTS & ICE STATUES
Since the main parts of this game take place in Cheryl’s head, it would be
easy to just say they don’t matter much because they aren’t real. I don’t
think it’s that simple, though. During the course of the game, Harry
interacts with Cybil, Lisa, Michelle, Dahlia, and the bartender. So in this
section I am going to attempt to discuss the NPCs, whether they are real or
not, and their role in the game.
Later in the FAQ I discuss the purpose of the Raw Shocks, and I think some
of the characters serve pretty much the same purpose: to slow Harry down.
Rather than attacking him physically, they distract him and keep him away
from the lighthouse. Young Dahlia, Lisa, and Michelle, especially, mainly
serve as distractions.They are pretty young women, and Harry is attracted to
them. Not necessarily to the point of forgetting his real goal, but he does
end up getting with Dahlia, he may or may not check out Lisa in her underwear
while she’s changing, and he seems to like Michelle a bit, also. Compare with
one of the ending bits when Dr K says, “You’re obsessed with not having sex.”
Sex is a distraction in the game.
Paying too much attention to the women around
could keep Harry from getting to the lighthouse and discovering the truth
right away. There is also Dr. K’s “to deny sex is to deny death” statement,
suggesting Cheryl’s “abnormal sexuality” stems from denying her father’s
Apparently, Cheryl’s projection of herself into this whole delusion/fantasy
using a younger version of her mother. Young Dahlia is the one that Harry
interacts with, mostly. Old Dahlia is the older version, Harry’s apparently
estranged wife. Then there is Real Dahlia. She’s the one in the locket, and
in the video endings. She’s blonde but doesn’t look much like the other two.
Dahlia v.1 – Young Dahlia
Young Dahlia’s hair color and clothing varies depending on your gameplay.She
has blonde or dark hair, and she may be dressed more or less provocatively.
Dahlia is young. She emphasizes how she and Harry only are around each
other whenthey’re drunk, and wonders if they’d even like each other sober.
She’s flirtywith Harry and is having a sexual relationship with him.
Does this mean Cheryl actually wants to have sex with her father?
I don’t believe so. Certainly, if the game is all fantasy, she
could just fantasize about herself and her father,
but she doesn’t. She makes the relationship happen between her
father and an imaginary mother/self figure. I don’t think the
YD/Harry sexual relationship is necessarily Cheryl wanting to
literally have sex with Harry; I think it’s
the product of sexual confusion, idolizing her father, and
wanting to make him happy. Maybe Harry was a bit of a lecher
in real life, and maybe Cheryl thinks one way to please him
is for YD to have a sexual relationship with him.
This Dahlia seems to serve as a distraction. Otherwise, why would she end up
having sex with him?
He’s got amnesia and he’s worried about his missing daughter.
Not exactly a sexy situation. I think she’s another character
to distract him and keep him from learning the truth.
Dahlia v.2 – Old Dahlia
Though not actually “old,” I say “Old Dahlia” just to contrast her with YD,
upon whom she is clearly based.She is an older version of her, who is similar
in age to Harry, and they are/were married.Her appearance varies as well, but
in general,she’s much less glamorous than YD. It’s important to note that OD
is based on YD, and not Real Dahlia, because OD is aged more. OD is the
villified version of Dahlia, which, if you go by what Dr K says,
is also not real. He says her mother is not the monster she thinks she is.
This Dahlia also seems to be trying to get Harry closer to the truth, most
of the time. When Harry meets her at the Levin St house, she reminds him
that they are married, but before she can say much more, the world freezes.
Dahlia v.3 – Real Dahlia
Cheryl’s real mother, the one in the endings and photos.We don’t know a whole
lot about her, except that Cheryl’s relationship with her is not all that
great.Cheryl might blame her mother somewhat for Harry’s death,or just resent
her because she’s alive and Harry isn’t.
Some things about Lisa change based on your actions, but I need to think it
over more as to whether or not it’s extremely important. I think it’s likely
that Lisa is at least based on a real nurse. Sometimes she mentions being
attracted to older men and then regretting it the next day, which is more
of the theme of Cheryl going after older men who reming her of her father,
and then feeling conflicted about it. It’s also interesting that Lisa is
disapproving of Cheryl’s “bug collection.” She “sees the creepy” in
everything. What is also interesting is that she says how she “doesn’t
need a man” in her life, as opposed to some of the other characters
Michelle is clingy toward John, for example). While Michelle talks about
liking men who look/dress like her father, she doesn’t put a value
judgement on it, and seems okay with this fact. Lisa, on the other hand,
is more negative about this and everything else, really. She’s pessimistic
and disapproving. She likes older men, but she has regrets about it. When
she sees a butterfly, it’s a “dirty, creepy bug” to her, not a “pretty
Lisa seems to distract Harry because she leads him to her apartment,
then calls him back after he’s gone. She really doesn’t help in
the search for Cheryl; she slows Harry down.
She dresses rather differently depending on your actions, but the general
sense is that she is an attractive, idealistic, romantic woman. Like Lisa,
she claims to like men who remind her of her father.Harry apparently dresses
like her father. She says, “You’re younger than you look” or something to
that effect, further emphasizing the old/young, mature/immature themes. He
dresses like her father, but isn’t really that old. (Related: Also bear in
mind that since Harry died 18 years ago, he obviously hasn’t aged since
he’s not alive. He’s frozen in time at the age he was 18 years ago. I don’t
know how old he was supposed to be, but while the age difference between
Cheryl and her mother remained constant over the years, the difference
between Cheryl and Harry got smaller. He’s only alive in her memories, but
always at the same age. As time goes by, the gap between their ages closes
in. She might not only be attracted to men like her father unconsciously,
but as time goes by, her father seems more like an agemate of hers. He
remains youthful in her memory, while her mother grows older and Cheryl
grows into a young woman).
Michelle is helpful at times, though. She wants to help Harry get to his
house, she suggests he call the phone number, she and John start to drive
him but don’t make it due to their argument. They lead him to a place that
is very important in Cheryl’s memory, though: the amusement park.
Her looks and personality change drastically based on your actions, but
in general, she’s the tougher female character here. She doesn’t outright
say anything about being attracted to men who resemble her father, but she
seemed to idolize her father as a child, even growing up to work as a police
officer like him. The affection for her father is there, it’s just not
What is interesting about Cybil is she’s often leading Harry closer to the
truth. When she says she looked up the file on Harry Mason, and is about to
ask him about it, the world freezes up to keep her from telling Harry more.
The delusions often have to sort of attack Cybil, or Harry would progress
too quickly. Cybil could somewhat represent the conflict inside of Cheryl.
A lot of her wants to keep this delusion, to hold on to this image of her
father alive and well; but then another part knows it’s not the truth and
that she must eventually let it go and move on. Cybil pushes her toward
this eventual acceptance of the truth.
The relationship between Cybil and Cybil’s dad closely parellels the real
relationship between Cheryl and Harry. Cybil’s dad didn’t die in that way,
he was attacked and “not the same” after, perhaps brain damaged in some
way. However, the relationship changed then. In a way, it was like he died.
The relationship was one of admiration, not in any way sexual. Likewise,
I think Cheryl loved and admired Harry while he was alive, but didn’t
actually want to have sex with him or anything like that. It was a normal
relationship. In contrast, the relationships between other characters in
the delusion are abnormal in some way.
Okay, not really an “other character,” but there may be more to
say about her as well. What do we know about Cheryl? Dr. K says
she’s been deluding herself since her father died, 18 years ago.
She was 7. That would make her about 25.
She doesn’t get along with her mother.
She has an “abnormal sexuality,” which
could refer to the Frigid messages, the Paparazzi messages,
being attracted to older men. She has been in trouble
with the law, according
to the Problem Child messages.
He’s very much the opposite of Michelle. She’s a singer; he’s a lawyer.
She’s more of a romantic/dreamer, and John is more realistic. He
came back to Silent Hill to break up with Michelle, saying their
relationship is “running off of fumes” and really isn’t a relationship.
Michelle still clings to the idea of moving in with him and maybe
having a family. I think the John/Michele scenes
mainly serve to show us that Cheryl has conflicted feelings about
CHERYL ON SWINGS IN PLAYGROUND
Certainly, this partly exists so you can figure out how to use the cellphone
camera function. However, our first ghostly image is of a young Cheryl on a
swingset, followed immediately by an echo message asking for help from Harry.
The young girl on the swings makes her seem young; the call shows she’s in
trouble. It is like the opening movie; she’s the damsel in distress. She
wants Harry to save her. Another interesting thing is that two of the ghost
photos are of young Cheryl, while all the others are older or seemingly
unrelated. There is also the photo of Cheryl and Harry with their heads
through the board thingy in the park later in the game.
NIGHTMARE #2: FOREST
When you reach the last lodge and go in, you notice a shadowy figure
kneeling on a sheet or blanket with a pool of blood in the middle.
This could mean a lot of things. Blood is used more in the forest
than anywhere; there’s the “Joel” messages, where the boy’s father
is berating him for being a sissy while taking him hunting. The bear
is all bloody in some playthroughs. There is the ghost image of the
dead deer over the sink in the lodge. Blood represents death, the
deer is dead, Joel shot him in the “cycle of death” messages.
Depending on the message, it might also say how proud grandpa
will be, and that he’s now a man. I find this particularly
interesting, because blood may not only mean death. Recall that
Cheryl isn’t really 7 years old, and that sexuality and womanhood
is also a prevalent theme. The figure is kneeling over a sheet
covered in blood. Could this be a metaphor for womanhood as well?
Traditionally, a sheet with blood on it would be hung out after a
woman’s wedding night, not only to “prove” she was a virgin beforehand,
but also to mark the transition from childhood to a new status as a
grown woman. Joel becoming a man = Cheryl becoming a woman, growing up.
Blood represents rebirth as well, death of childhood and rebirth as
an adult. Joel “becomes a man” by killing a deer as a rite of passage.
Cheryl becomes a woman, not necessarily by killing anything, and not
necessarily related just to menstruation, but I think the blood still
stands for both death and rebirth. The game shows that sexuality has
been a major problem of Cheryl’s. That’s why blood, not just a more
obvious metaphor for menstruation, but also for sexual maturity in a
more general sense (puberty -> sexual maturity) takes place at the
beginning of a nightmare sequence; becoming a woman and having
relationships and sexual experiences isn’t something Cheryl thinks
on fondly. Similar: the paintings in the bordello of scantily-clad
women with butterfly wings. Butterfly=grown version of caterpillar,
mature version. Cheryl starts out as a 7 year old, immature,
caterpillar-like and struggles with sexual maturity, represented
by things like the scantily clad women. Joel apparently doesn’t
like hunting much, he’s crying and his father is screaming at him
for being a sissy. It’s a traumatic experience for him. He’s been
pushed into it by his father, who apparently can’t be proud of him
for other things he’s done. He wants his son to go hunting and bring
home a deer. He’s the one who insists that it’s a rite of passage
and needs to be done to “become a man.” Cheryl certainly wasn’t
pushed into adulthood by Harry in precisely the same way; he died
long before she hit puberty. Still, it could be said she had to
grow up faster due to the stress of her parents fighting and then
Harry dying. And then, after puberty, she ended up mixing sexuality
into it by sleeping with older men/father figures. I thought maybe
it could be something like miscarriage/abortion, but I’m not too sure
Additionally, it could just be taken at face value: blood in a hunting
lodge probably means someone slaughtered an animal there. Certainly,
there are plenty of slaughtered animals nearby in the Orion hunting
lodge: the bear, the deer, a rabbit. There’s a ghost deer above the
sink and a dead deer under the back porch. When you enter the last
lodge in the area, you see the ghost figure kneeling over the blood
pool in the middle of the floor. This could mean that Joel slaughtered
the deer here, or just serve as a reminder of animal slaughter (which
is also a “loss of innocence” theme in Joel’s case).
The room with the music box puzzle has a message about the vacation
going badly. The child has cut herself. The father is busy getting
drunk and not looking after her.
The mother is busy talking on the phone and can’t be bothered,
either. I think this only shows that Cheryl felt neglected and traumatized
by the problems in her parents’ marriage.
BRYANT OVERLOOK ECHO
This sets a scene of a woman parking with a man;the photo is of a
crying girl in the passenger seat. He wants to have sex; she does not.
This ties in well with the Frigid messages. She threatens to tell her
dad. When you take the photo, it shows Cheryl crying. This probably
represents a scene of her and her boyfriend.
The general gist of these messages is that the father is spoiling her,
feeding her chocolates, taking her toys, and also trying to make the
mother feel bad (because she is not there). Like the song you have to
request from the radio, Cheryl is “daddy’s girl.” Harry is the one there
with her in the hospital.
LABYRINTH NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE
It is interesting that the nightmare sequences start out very complex
and similar to reality, then they begin to break down and become more
confusing, yet more simplistic and dreamlike. The first nightmare part
in the city streets looks a lot like the same city streets do normally.
The mall seems a lot like a mall, etc. Eventually, though, the sequences
start to become weirder and more repetitive. Repetition is a big theme
in the game though, even the opening video. Consider the labyrinth part.
You start out going down, and you are descending further and further
into Cheryl’s mind. This part has images of Cheryl and Harry, repeating
pictures and rooms across from where you are running/floating down.
Then you reach the area with the chair, lights, and broken glass. The
room is huge, yet black and it has very little in it. When you reach the
broken mirror, you teleport into the next area, which has a mirror, which
also teleports you. These next areas resemble a home. The labyrinth has
hallways with ice over them, and then a repeating area with a couch and
a television playing the opening video. Clearly, this is supposed to
remind us of Cheryl sitting around in front of the TV, watching home
videos over and over. Later, we come to the part with the invisible walls,
ending with a frozen statue scene of Dahlia sitting on the bed, just like
in the scene where Harry meets her.
LAKE NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE
This is the weirdest nightmare sequence, probably, because there is almost
nothing there, and you can’t survive it (!). Why include a place you can’t
survive? Well, SH1 and SH3 both did this in the opening, but I don’t think
this is referencing those. I think the reason Harry dies again here is
to drive home that Harry is dead. It’s also a fairly sparse area; just some
statues and water. It’s interesting that the Raw Shocks get frozen here.
Previously, people (Cybil, Lisa, etc) would get frozen after a scene that
revealed some information on what was really happening, in order to keep
Harry from his goal. Then a nightmare sequence would start, further
distracting Harry (and you, the player) from thinking too much about things.
Here, the Raw Shocks, the very same creatures that always chase you in the
nightmare sequences, are the things getting frozen. As Harry says to Dahlia
on the phone, it’s too late to turn back now. The Raw Shocks are useless now,
Harry has come too far and learned too much.
I think the sparseness of the sequence reflects how Cheryl’s delusions are
becoming less powerful and breaking down more and more. Harry can see statues
of Cheryl and himself at the bottom of the lake; more memories of better
times. However, these statues are at the bottom of a frozen lake.