Kingcombinesthe elements of psychological thrillers, science fiction, the paranormal, anddetective themes into his stories. 1 In addition to these themes, Kingsticks to using greatand vivid detail that is set in a realistic everydayplace. 2 Stephen King who is mainlyknown for his novels, has broadenedhis horizons to different types of writings such asmovie scripts, nonfiction,autobiographies, children’s books, and short stories. WhileStephen Kingmight be best known for his novels The Stand and It, some of his best workthat has been published are his short stories such as “The Body” and “QuittersInc”. 3King’s works are so powerful because he uses his experience andobservations from hiseveryday life and places them into his unique stories. Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21,1947, at theMaine General Hospital.
4 Stephen, his mother Nellie, andhis adopted brother David wereleft to fend for themselves when Stephen’sfather Donald, a Merchant Marine captain, leftone day, to go the storeto buy a pack of cigarettes, and never returned. 5 His fathersleavinghad a big indirect impact on King’s life. Stephen King recalls how his familylifewas altered: “After my father took off, my mother, struggled, andthen landed on herfeet. ” My brother and I didn’t see a great deal ofher over the next nine years. Sheworked a succession of continuous lowpaying jobs. “6 Stephen’s first outlooks on lifewere influenced by hisolder brother and what he figured out on his own.
While youngStephenand his family moved around the North Eastern and Central United States. Whenhe was seven years old, they moved to Stratford, Connecticut. 7 Here iswhere King gothis first exposure to horror. One evening he listened tothe radio adaptation of RayBradbury’s story “Mars Is Heaven!” That nightKing recalls he “slept in the doorway,where the real and rational lightof the bathroom bulb could shine on my face. “8 StephenKing’s exposureto 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 ableto “see” what washappening in their own mind,somewhat in the same fashionthe way it was done on theradio. 9 King’s fascination with horror earlyon continued and was pushed along only acouple weeks after Bradbury’sstory. One day little Stephen was looking through hismother’s books andcame across one named “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. ” Afterhis mother finished reading the book to him, Stephen was hooked. Heimmediatelyasked her to read it again. King recalls “that summer when I was seven, must have read it to me half a dozen times.
“10 Ironically thatsame year, whileStephen was still seven years old, he went to go see hisfirst horror movie, The Creaturefrom the Black Lagoon. This is importantbecause Stephen says, ” Since , Istill see things cinematically. I write down everything I see. What I see, it seems like amovie to me.
“11During this year the biggest event that probably had the biggest impactonStephen King’s writing style was the discovery of the author H. P. Lovecraft. Kingwould later write of Lovecraft, “He struck with the most force, andI still think, for all hisshortcomings, he is the best writer of horrorfiction that America has yet produced. “12 Inmany of Lovecraft’s writingshe always used his present surroundings as the back drop ofhis 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 toand from withhis family in his childhood. 13 The main town that it resemblesis that of Durham, Maine. Itwas after the exposure to H. P. Lovecraft’sstories that King first began to write.
While growing up andmoving around the way his family did, Stephen had never beenable to feelcomfortable and settle down in one place and make friends they way other kidshis age did. Around the age of twelve the King family finally settledin the town ofDurham, Maine. For Stephen King, Durham was the place wherehis imagination began toshine. It was at this time that Stephen firstbegan to make friends. Along with his friends,Stephen would go the moviesa lot. Stephen would use the movies as a inspiration.
Although he enjoyedgoing out and having fun, whenever he would come home, Stephenwould immediatelywrite down his experiences and observations. Frequently King wouldplacehis friends and family into childhood fantasy tales. And one would alwaysknowhow Stephen felt about them because of how long they lived in thestory. It was notuntil college that Stephen King received any kindof real recognition for his writings. Inthe Fall of 1967, King finishedhis first novel, The Long Walk, and turned it into hissophomore AmericanLiterature professor for review.
14 After a couple of weeks and acouplerounds around the department, the English professors were stunned. They realizedthat they had a real writer on their hands. From then until he graduatedwith a bachelorsdegree in English from University of Maine at Orono inthe Spring of 1970, Kingconcentrated on rounding off the edges of hiswriting technique. 15One short story that best shows the typeand technique of Stephen King’s writing is”The Body. ” “The Body”, whichhas been adapted into to a Hollywood movie, was firstpublished in thecollection of short stories called Different Seasons. The story is a taleoffour twelve year old friends who at the end of one summer go out ona journey in into thewoods to see a dead body.
While on their journeythey learn about life, friendship, andare propelled from innocent toexperienced. On the surface of the story it appears to besimple journeywith its occasional mishaps, but the true magnificence is that this story hasa strong autobiographical coincidence. The main character, Gordie Lachance,is a boygrowing 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 brothersaccidental death, all his parents would ever careabout was his brother. Since his death,Gordie’s parents have presumablyshut themselves away from Gordie.
This, to a certaindegree is true ofKing. Because of his father leaving when Stephen was two, and hismothertaking on around the clock jobs, he never really had any parental guidance. 16The story itself is written with Gordie narrating in the presenttime look back at thejourney. At the time of his flashback, Gordie isa best selling author who has returned tohis home town of Castle Rockto revisit his past. This is ironic because at the timeStephen wrotethe story he himself had just moved from Bolder, Colorado, back “home”tothe town of Bangor. King’s childhood home town of Durham is used in severaldifferent stories under the fictional town name of Castle Rock.
It isalso noticeable how inthe story when Gordie “looks” back to him and hisbrother, his brother is the only personwho cares for him. He noticeablygoes out of his way to look out for Gordie, and isalways encouraging hisand asking him about his writing, while all his parents seem to dois ignoreGordie. This also can be related to King’s past because while growing up hisbrother while only two years older then him, always seemed to be therefor Stephen andlook out for him. Probably the deepest imagery of thestory is at the end of the novel.
Gordie is shown back at home and puttingthe finishing touches on his latest work. Whilefinishing up, Gordieis interrupted by his son who is shown in sense to be a good-naturedandcaring boy. Gordie experiences a deep love for his family at the time. Thissetup ispresumably placed in the story as an escape for King. 17 Kingtells of his fear of providingfor and caring for a family.
This showsKing pushing away the fear, in a sense saying thathe is all right. Thathe has now embraced the idea. 18One of King’s bestwork is also one that does not fit in any category of his usualwritings. For an author who usually writes horror, “Rita Hayworth and ShawshankRedemption”,is a story that is a refreshing sidestep. The story tells of how AndyDufresne,who is falsely tried, convicted, and sentenced to back to back life sentencesforthe double murder of his wife and her lover, deals with being trappedwithin a dreadfulsituation that are out of his hands.
Throughout the nineteenyears that he is in Shawshankprison, Andy has to endure everything froma gang called the “Sisters”, who go aroundraping and beating their preyto being forced to create and run a money launderingscheme for the prisonWarden. 19 If this story was written without the authors name on it,thereis none of Stephen King’s characteristic style, except for maybe in one placein thestory. The one possible place that even hints that it is from themind of King is at the endof the story where Red is off to keep his promiseto Andy. Andy asks Red, that when heget out of jail to travel to a southernMaine town called Buxton and look for something heburied in a “hay fieldunder a large oak field.
” The suspense of what was buried and thedescriptionof the field in Buxton is what is typical of Stephen King. While the storyisvery uncharacteristic of King it does deep down relate to himself. The theme of hope andof how Andy overcomes the situation is one that istied closely to King. It runs a directparallel with life as a child andhow his life has turned out.
Just as Andy was thrown intopredicamentand later escapes and lives his life on his own terms, Stephen, early on wasforced to move from town to town with mother and brother. In the end Stephenescapesand now lives on his own terms. 20Stephen King’s worksare so powerful because he uses his experiences andobservations from hislife and places them into his unique works. What seems to makeStephenKing’s stories almost magical is that the settings of his stories are placedintocommon every day places. Additionally, Stephen’s writings are trueto life in peoplesmind’s because he draws upon common fears.