King is accomplished in the production of credible characters in familiar domestic and small-town settings. One of the hallmarks of his composition is his ability to draw readers into the normal routines and trials of middle American households. These familiar settings are essential backdrops against which the author then casts grotesque and fantastic events. As King’s protagonist, Thad Beaumont evokes sympathy from the outset. His struggle with writer’s block is almost a cliché. Readers wonder whether Beaumont has created and fallen victim to his literary alter ego, George Stark, a Frankenstein. Thad, though, is neither mad nor hallucinating. He is a good and decent man who unintentionally opens the door to evil, an evil that springs from his own creativity and actions, an evil that victimizes him, his family, and his acquaintances and that therefore must be fought.
Liz Beaumont, Thad’s wife, is a somewhat passive, two-dimensional loving soul. She is worried about her husband, but until the latter stages of the book, she is uncomprehending about Thad’s personal struggle with Stark. She manifests some resolve and initiative when Stark takes her and her twins hostage, but she functions chiefly as a gauge of the normal.
As Thad becomes ensnared in the irrationalities that surround Stark’s reality, Sheriff Alan Pangborn serves as the rational counterfoil to Thad’s suspicions about who and what Stark is. Pangborn is the reader’s...
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