Stephen King frequently places his human characters in danger against a supernatural antagonist. These characters, being realists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, must first overcome their disbelief at what is happening to them, and then decide what to do about it. Both their explanations for the strange happenings and their attempts to deal with them can be divided into four main categories: cultural appropriation; Christianity, especially Catholic rites; attempts at utter destruction; and a resignation to simply live—or die—with the supernatural intact.
This book examines over 30 of King’s works, revealing that the overall success of the characters in removing the supernatural threat from their towns, or perhaps defeating it entirely, does not depend fully on which of these four paths of action they choose. It is possible for any attempt to destroy the supernatural threat to fail, and what works in one of King’s books will not have the same outcome in another. For King, the most likely success comes when his characters can choose a course of action that allows them to stand and be true to themselves.