Stephan King - Summary Term Paper

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subject = Literature

title = Stephen King

papers = Stephen Edwin

King is one of today's most popular and best selling writers. King

combines

the elements of psychological thrillers, science fiction, the paranormal, and

detective themes into his stories.1 In addition to these themes, King

sticks to using great

and vivid detail that is set in a realistic everyday

place.2 Stephen King who is mainly

known for his novels, has broadened

his horizons to different types of writings such as

movie scripts, nonfiction,

autobiographies, children's books, and short stories. While

Stephen King

might be best known for his novels The Stand and It, some of his best work

that has been published are his short stories such as "The Body" and "Quitters

Inc".3

King's works are so powerful because he uses his experience and

observations from his

everyday life and places them into his unique stories.

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21,

1947, at the

Maine General Hospital.4 Stephen, his mother Nellie, and

his adopted brother David were

left to fend for themselves when Stephen's

father Donald, a Merchant Marine captain, left

one day, to go the store

to buy a pack of cigarettes, and never returned.5 His fathers

leaving

had a big indirect impact on King's life. Stephen King recalls how his family

life

was altered: "After my father took off, my mother, struggled, and

then landed on her

feet." My brother and I didn't see a great deal of

her over the next nine years. She

worked a succession of continuous low

paying jobs."6 Stephen's first outlooks on life

were influenced by his

older brother and what he figured out on his own. While young

Stephen

and his family moved around the North Eastern and Central United States. When

he was seven years old, they moved to Stratford, Connecticut.7 Here is

where King got

his first exposure to horror. One evening he listened to

the radio adaptation of Ray

Bradbury's story "Mars Is Heaven!" That night

King recalls he "slept in the doorway,

where the real and rational light

of the bathroom bulb could shine on my face."8 Stephen

King's exposure

to oral storytelling on the radio had a large impact on his later writings.

King tells his stories in visual terms so that the reader would be able

to "see" what was

happening in their own mind,somewhat in the same fashion

the way it was done on the

radio.9 King's fascination with horror early

on continued and was pushed along only a

couple weeks after Bradbury's

story. One day little Stephen was looking through his

mother's books and

came across one named "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.

Hyde." After

his mother finished reading the book to him, Stephen was hooked. He

immediately

asked her to read it again. King recalls "that summer when I was seven, [my

mother] must have read it to me half a dozen times."10 Ironically that

same year, while

Stephen was still seven years old, he went to go see his

first horror movie, The Creature

from the Black Lagoon. This is important

because Stephen says, " Since [the movie], I

still see things cinematically.

I write down everything I see. What I see, it seems like a

movie to me."11

During this year the biggest event that probably had the biggest impact

on

Stephen King's writing style was the discovery of the author H. P. Lovecraft.

King

would later write of Lovecraft, "He struck with the most force, and

I still think, for all his

shortcomings, he is the best writer of horror

fiction that America has yet produced."12 In

many of Lovecraft's writings

he always used his present surroundings as the back drop of

his stories.

King has followed in his footsteps with the fictional town of Castle Rock,

Maine. Castle Rock is acombination of several towns that King moved to

and from with

his family in his childhood.13 The main town that it resembles

is that of Durham, Maine. It

was after the exposure to H. P. Lovecraft's

stories that King first began to write.

While growing up and

moving around the way his family did, Stephen had never been

able to feel

comfortable and settle down in one place and make friends they way other kids

his age did. Around the age of twelve the King family finally settled

in the town of

Durham, Maine. For Stephen King, Durham was the place where

his imagination began to

shine. It was at this time that Stephen first

began to make friends. Along with his friends,

Stephen would go the movies

a lot. Stephen would use the movies as a inspiration.

Although he enjoyed

going out and having fun, whenever he would come home, Stephen

would immediately

write down his experiences and observations. Frequently King would

place

his friends and family into childhood fantasy tales. And one would always

know

how Stephen felt about them because of how long they lived in the

story. It was not

until college that Stephen King received any kind

of real recognition for his writings. In

the Fall of 1967, King finished

his first novel, The Long Walk, and turned it into his

sophomore American

Literature professor for review.14 After a couple of weeks and a

couple

rounds around the department, the English professors were stunned. They realized

that they had a real writer on their hands. From then until he graduated

with a bachelors

degree in English from University of Maine at Orono in

the Spring of 1970, King

concentrated on rounding off the edges of his

writing technique.15

One short story that best shows the type

and technique of Stephen King's writing is

"The Body." "The Body", which

has been adapted into to a Hollywood movie, was first

published in the

collection of short stories called Different Seasons. The story is a tale

of

four twelve year old friends who at the end of one summer go out on

a journey in into the

woods to see a dead body. While on their journey

they learn about life, friendship, and

are propelled from innocent to

experienced. On the surface of the story it appears to be

simple journey

with its occasional mishaps, but the true magnificence is that this story has

a strong autobiographical coincidence. The main character, Gordie Lachance,

is a boy

growing up on his own through the memory of his dead older brother.

Growing up,

Gordie, an avid story teller, dreamed of becoming a writer.

Before his brothers

accidental death, all his parents would ever care

about was his brother. Since his death,

Gordie's parents have presumably

shut themselves away from Gordie. This, to a certain

degree is true of

King. Because of his father leaving when Stephen was two, and his

mother

taking on around the clock jobs, he never really had any parental guidance.16

The story itself is written with Gordie narrating in the present

time look back at the

journey. At the time of his flashback, Gordie is

a best selling author who has returned to

his home town of Castle Rock

to revisit his past. This is ironic because at the time

Stephen wrote

the story he himself had just moved from Bolder, Colorado, back "home"

to

the town of Bangor. King's childhood home town of Durham is used in several

different stories under the fictional town name of Castle Rock. It is

also noticeable how in

the story when Gordie "looks" back to him and his

brother, his brother is the only person

who cares for him. He noticeably

goes out of his way to look out for Gordie, and is

always encouraging his

and asking him about his writing, while all his parents seem to do

is ignore

Gordie. This also can be related to King's past because while growing up his

brother while only two years older then him, always seemed to be there

for Stephen and

look out for him. Probably the deepest imagery of the

story is at the end of the novel.

Gordie is shown back at home and putting

the finishing touches on his latest work. While

finishing up, Gordie

is interrupted by his son who is shown in sense to be a good-natured

and

caring boy. Gordie experiences a deep love for his family at the time. This

setup is

presumably placed in the story as an escape for King.17 King

tells of his fear of providing

for and caring for a family. This shows

King pushing away the fear, in a sense saying that

he is all right. That

he has now embraced the idea.18

One of King's best

work is also one that does not fit in any category of his usual

writings.

For an author who usually writes horror, "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank

Redemption",

is a story that is a refreshing sidestep. The story tells of how Andy

Dufresne,

who is falsely tried, convicted, and sentenced to back to back life sentences

for

the double murder of his wife and her lover, deals with being trapped

within a dreadful

situation that are out of his hands. Throughout the nineteen

years that he is in Shawshank

prison, Andy has to endure everything from

a gang called the "Sisters", who go around

raping and beating their prey

to being forced to create and run a money laundering

scheme for the prison

Warden.19 If this story was written without the authors name on it,

there

is none of Stephen King's characteristic style, except for maybe in one place

in the

story. The one possible place that even hints that it is from the

mind of King is at the end

of the story where Red is off to keep his promise

to Andy. Andy asks Red, that when he

get out of jail to travel to a southern

Maine town called Buxton and look for something he

buried in a "hay field

under a large oak field." The suspense of what was buried and the

description

of the field in Buxton is what is typical of Stephen King. While the story

is

very uncharacteristic of King it does deep down relate to himself.

The theme of hope and

of how Andy overcomes the situation is one that is

tied closely to King. It runs a direct

parallel with life as a child and

how his life has turned out. Just as Andy was thrown into

predicament

and later escapes and lives his life on his own terms, Stephen, early on was

forced to move from town to town with mother and brother. In the end Stephen

escapes

and now lives on his own terms.20

Stephen King's works

are so powerful because he uses his experiences and

observations from his

life and places them into his unique works. What seems to make

Stephen

King's stories almost magical is that the settings of his stories are placed

into

common every day places. Additionally, Stephen's writings are true

to life in peoples

mind's because he draws upon common fears. J

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