An the end of the events of "The Sandman: The Dream Hunters", Morpheus is satisfied that events played out as they should have, and that everyone involved learned an important lesson.

Here is the text:

The raven confronts the lord of the Dreaming about this, as the story comes to a close. “What good did it do?” the raven asked.

“‘Lessons were learned,’ said the pale king. ‘Events occurred as it was proper for them to do. I do not perceive that my attention was wasted.’”

Probing deeper after that unsatisfactory reply, and additional exchanges between Dream and his winged charge, the Raven asks, pointedly, “And you also learn a lesson?”

But the pale king chose not to answer and remained wrapped in silence,...and after some time the raven flapped heavily away into the sky of dreams, and left the king entirely alone.”

What lesson did the Dream King learn here?

A sub-question:

The raven, was he Matthew or some other raven?

1 Answer 1


From the unresolved conversation between the raven and Dream, we can see that if Dream did learn a lesson, it was an uncomfortable one. With the presence of the Furies/Fates/Kindly Ones playing a role in this book, we can figure that the themes of the story are a part of Dream's arc.

A major theme presented is that, though fate may not be fixed, escaping it has a cost that may be too high. The fox tries to save her monk from the death intended for him by sacrificing herself to it, and even succeeds. But the monk, seeing the fox's valor and love, could not accept her dying in his place, but instead, by willingly taking the death made for him, died with grace, both protecting her and freeing her to find her own peace (after, of course, she exacted revenge).

The lesson that Dream learned, therefore, could well be that escaping one's destiny comes at an unacceptable cost to others. Dream's eventual fate in the Sandman series is deeply entwined with this understanding.

As to the sub-question, Matthew became Dream's raven during 'modern times', and since Dream Hunters is set in mythological-ancient China, the raven who serves Dream is likely to be one of the many named or unnamed others who have occupied the role. Given the time period and the setting, it is possible that the raven is Ming-Ti, who has been listed as one of Matthew's predecessors.

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