Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
“The Man in the Black Suit” is a frame story. The frame consists of a decrepit old man resolving to erase his haunting memory of meeting the devil when he was nine years old. Writing it down, he believes, will give him release; and writing it in a book marked Diary and placing it by his bedside will ensure that someday someone will read his story after he is gone. Although this short story is not formally divided into parts, it is as skillfully constructed as a well-made play, the action inside the frame unfolding organically in five stages. First, the milieu of the town of Motton in the early years of the twentieth century is re-created. The world was different then. There were no neighborhoods; farms were separated by long distances and the land was largely forests and swamp. “In those days there were ghosts everywhere.” Next, Gary’s close relationship with his parents is provided along with a vivid word picture of his mother kneading bread in her kitchen. The third stage consists of Gary’s journey through the woods, catching two fine trout, meeting the devil, and narrowly escaping with his life. Stage four is his joyous reunion with his father, and the last stage is their going back to Castle Stream to retrieve Gary’s fishing gear and the father instinctively sensing that something is terribly wrong.
This is a retrospective story, the action occurring more than eighty years in the past, and yet King is able to create such convincing...
(The entire section is 373 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
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