The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Analysis

Stephen King

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Stephen King established himself as one of the masters of horror fiction in 1974 with the publication of CARRIE. Some of his horror classics include THE SHINING (1977), THE DEAD ZONE (1979), IT (1986), and THE GREEN MILE (1996). King has proven himself to be a master of taking common situations and twisting them beyond recognition. By turning everyday life upside down, King is able to expose the fears that fester within all people. In his most successful novels and short stories, the worst fears of both children and adults alike are brought to the surface. For King, horror seems to exist just underneath the layers of pretense in which people attempt to wrap themselves. In THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, King exploits the classic fairy-tale elements of a lost child having to overcome the terrors both real and imagined found in the woods.

Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland and her brother are taken by their recently divorced mom on a hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail that runs between Maine and New Hampshire. After the divorce, she moved the children from Boston to a small town in Maine. Trisha’s brother is very unhappy with the move and argues with his mother during this family weekend hike. Needing to pee and wishing to detach herself from the constant bickering, Trisha wanders far off the trail.

She soon discovers that she cannot find her way back to the safety of her mom and brother. Carrying only a small amount of food and her Walkman, Trisha is forced to fight off her fears and focus on saving herself. King is adept at describing the terror a child feels in such a precarious situation. As a huge fan of the Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon, Trisha uses listening to the Red Sox games on her Walkman as a way of holding onto her sanity. Lost for days, she encounters terror at every turn. The figure of Tom Gordon becomes more than just a baseball player to which she listens. For Trisha, it seems as if Gordon is actually there in the forest protecting her. Although of modest length for a King novel, THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON is one of his most successful recent sojourns into the world of terror.

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon can be placed in the long tradition of baseball novels in American literature, many of which compare...

(The entire section is 264 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

King's novels explore ideas that are timeless, many of them connected to ideas explored by writers in the ancient world and during the...

(The entire section is 911 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon begins with a note of fear and despair: "The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it...

(The entire section is 707 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

King sometimes jokingly refers to himself as a bestsellerasaurus, but it is useful to look at The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon in terms...

(The entire section is 515 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Because King is preoccupied with broad questions such as the nature of Good and Evil and the search for both meaning and identity in the...

(The entire section is 637 words.)