Respecting The Stand

A Critical Analysis of Stephen King’s Apocalyptic Novel


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About the Book

Many academics dismiss Stephen King as a mere genre writer, an over-glorified bestseller who appeals to the masses, but lacks literary merit. This critical analysis of King’s epic novel The Stand makes a case for the horror master as a literary writer. A careful consideration of The Stand’s abstract themes, characters, setting, and text reveals how King’s work brims with the literary techniques that critics expect of a serious writer and the haunting questions that mark enduring literature. A thoughtful deliberation on so-called “escapist” fiction in the world of literature as well as an informed examination of one of King’s most famous books, this work paves the way for future studies of other King novels.

About the Author(s)

Jenifer Paquette is a visiting instructor at the University of South Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Jenifer Paquette
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 191
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7001-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9100-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface      1
Introduction      5

Literature: What Is It Good For?      11
Horror: Red-Headed Stepchild of Fiction      23
King Criticism: Or Lack Thereof      30
A Defense of Escapism      37
The Stand      40
The Tolkien Connection      46

One: The Set-Up      53
Small-Town America      54
The Military      59
99.4 Percent Communicability      65
The Media      68

Two: The Players      71
Ordinary People Can Make a Difference      72
Small-Town Maine: King’s Specialty      75
American Nice Guy      79
A Pawn in the Hands of Providence      86
Human Nature      90
The Sanctity of Innocence      95
Intellect Gone Awry      98
The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy      100
For Every Villain a Right-Hand Man      102
Evil Always Undoes Itself      105
In the Hands of a Demanding God      107
American Evil      108

Three: The Big Picture      112
Good vs. Evil: Dream a Little Dream      112
The Problem of Choice: Predestination or Poor Judgment?      116
The Stand: It’s the Journey That Counts      117
The Right to Govern      121
Hope vs. Despair: “Do people ever really learn anything?”      125

Four: The Nitty Gritty      127
Writing Style: “The Prose Is Indistinguishable”      127
Genre Choice: Today Is a Good Day to End the World?      129
Popular Appeal: The Kiss of Death?      130

Five: The Dark Tower Connections      133
Some New American Heroes      134
The Lady of Shadows      139
The Boy      140
Not in Kansas Anymore      144

Six: All God’s Chillun’ Should Stand      146
“The Body”: Ray Brower Meets a Train      149
IT: Clowns, Sewers, and Spiders      152
The Losers’ Club      153
IT’s Minions      156
“You Can’t Be Careful on a Skateboard”      157
Grown-Ups Are the Real Monsters      158
American Horrors      161
Dreamcatcher: Aliens, Old Friends, and Hunting Cabins      163
Horror Lives Everywhere Every Day      165
Last Stand      166

Final Thoughts      168
Chapter Notes      171
Bibliography      177
Index      179