King writes at the end of “The Man in the Black Suit” that his story is an “homage” to Hawthorne. In what ways does King's story diverge from Hawthorne's? What are the similarities between the two? How does Gary's encounter with the devil differ from Brown's?

Similarities between “The Man in the Black Suit” and “Young Goodman Brown” include a young male protagonist, the rural setting, the devil’s gruesome yet human-like appearance, and the protagonist’s escape from the devil. Divergences between the stories include Gary being younger than Goodman, having only one encounter, Gary’s fearful flight home, and Gary’s resistance to evil.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In identifying his story “The Man in the Black Suit” as an homage to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” Stephen King encourages the reader to identify the numerous similarities between the stories. The most obvious similarity is the basic plot of a young male character’s encounter with a horrendous figure whom he quickly identifies as the devil. Both stories are also located in a rural area near a small town, and include references to the dangers of the forest. In both, the youth and the devil converse, and the protagonist ultimately escapes the devil and returns to his community and his home.

King’s story is not simply a modern retelling, however, but differs significantly from Hawthorne’s earlier creation. One difference is the dual perspectives of Gary, who is both an elderly man reminiscing on a horrible event and the young boy having that experience. Goodman is presented as a young married man at one point in his life. In addition, Gary does not enter the forest, but Goodman does. Furthermore, after Gary escapes, he runs straight home. Goodman, however, continues his adventures and encounters numerous other townspeople, who were engaged in sinful or suspicious acts. Perhaps most important, Gary stays on the path of righteousness and, upon his return, is supported by his father. Goodman was lured into the evil events—at least in his imagination—and both he and his wife took part in a satanic ceremony.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 25, 2021
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial