Surviving Stephen King

Reactions to the Supernatural in Works by the Master of Horror

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About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

Rebecca Frost is an independent scholar and freelancer. She lives in L’Anse, Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Rebecca Frost
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 202
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8473-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4391-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction: Man Against Monster 1
I—Explanation and Ritual: Cultural Appropriation in King
1. The Burying Ground, the Wendigo, Whatever: Stolen Stories as Enlightenment 9
2. The Ritual of Chüd: Borrowed Solutions 32
II—My God Is Strong: Christianity in the Face of the Unknown
3. The Power of Prayer: Christian Solutions to Supernatural Problems 59
4. Was It a Miracle? Light, Power and Belief 69
5. CARRIE WHITE IS BURNING FOR HER SINS: Christianity as a Weapon 84
6. ForJesussakeamen: The Danger of Performative Belief 104
III—Reality Is Thin Ice: Belief and Unbelief
7. Twisted, Silent Hulk: Destroying the Outer Shell 121
8. There Are Buicks Everywhere: Living with the Supernatural 140
Conclusion: What It All Comes Down To: Standing and Being True 161
Chapter Notes 185
Bibliography 189
Index 191