There is more than one Stalker - Porcupine, who used to be called the Master, is mentioned almost straightaway. Porcupine who in some way watches over their passage through the Zone, Stalker and his two clients, known only as the Writer and the Scientist. Yes, he took his life - he hung himself after becoming immensely wealthy.
The Room in the Zone had granted him his wish - but it was not a wish he wanted to recognise. He thought he had wanted his brother brought back to life, but he received money. The Zone knows; the Zone knows what you do not want to want. And so Porcupine, who taught Stalker, hung himself.
What of the other Stalkers, who can read the signs Porcupine left - who know this nut, hanging from this threshold, is a terrible warning? We hear nothing of them. Stalker (this Stalker) stands in for all stalkers. This Stalker - but he is wretched. A poor man, a broken man. Hadn't he sworn never to return to the Zone? And yet he is returning to the Zone. This is his weakness, his susceptibility.
But this weakness is the call of the Zone; he has no choice. True, he has been there before, he knows the secret entrance, and knows of some of the traps which remake themselves around those who visit the Zone. But what does he know? Not a path - a way to reach the Room - so much as an immense caution. We must be careful - that's what he tells them, those whom he guides.
And he has an immense love for the Zone; he belongs to it and speaks for it. The Zone, he says to Writer, when he draws his gun, will not tolerate weapons. Look what happened to the tanks! And we remember their rusting bulk in the still greenery. But he is also hesitant, immensely so: he knows the Zone cannot be interpreted, that caution is their only protection, and even this may not be enough.
Caution - and a kind of sincerity. For those that attempt to make their way to the Room must be broken men. They must have come to the limit of their strength. Their weakness is their fellowship; it is what will allow Stalker, after, to call Writer and Scientist his friends. Weakness: but isn't it by this that you are called to the Zone? Isn't this the way it claims you?
Then to be a Stalker is to be unqualified to be what you are. To be a Stalker, or one who follows a Stalker, is to be unequal to one's own strength. You must have failed, and failed yourself. Sometimes Stalker is grotesquely weak. When he fights with Scientist, he is weakness itself, ineffectually thrashing about. How grotesque! But when he sinks down, and weeps, his weakness becomes a kind of strength, a command.
He speaks of the Room, and of the desperation that brings those he guides to the Zone. Now Scientist dismantles his bomb. Writer puts his arm around Stalker. They sit in the dark, at the Room's threshold. In weakness. In a kind of friendship, and by way of their weakness.
You will always be too weak to reach the Room. You will not reach it, and because of your weakness. Even as you drawn to it precisely by your weakness. How is it the Room opens only when you sink down, motionless, before its threshold? How is it that it is closed even as it opens, that you must have always failed the Room and failed yourself?
Then Stalker guides you only to the threshold of the Room. Guides you to where you cannot enter. He told you it was not for him, a Stalker, to enter. That would be impossible. Told you that he could only bring those in absolute need to this place, and that the Zone would know, as it always knows, what is in the hearts of those who come.
Then the Zone brings to itself only those who would fail. Or it destroys those who would make a success of failure, and thereby would have failed the test. What do you want? The Room is the test. You must want nothing, and not even yourself. To suffer yourself: this is what the Zone wants. To suffer and no longer to bear your suffering. For who is there? Who suffers?