The Plot

Pet Sematary contains three large sections, each of which is prefaced by a paraphrasing of the portions of John’s Gospel that tell the story of Christ’s raising of Lazarus from the dead. A long headnote sets the theme and tone. Stephen King concludes the headnote with this sentence: “Death is a mystery, and burial is a secret.”

Dr. Louis Creed, his wife, Rachel, their five-year-old daughter, Ellie, and their one-year-old son, Gage, have moved from Chicago because Louis has accepted the position of physician at the University of Maine. On their first night in their new home in Ludlow, the Creeds meet Jud and Norma Crandell, their retired neighbors from across the road.

Jud takes the Creed family for a visit to the Pet Sematary, a plot of ground near the Creed home. Generations of Ludlow children have buried their pets there. It is a place of homemade headstones and markers announcing childhood grief. Jud tells Louis that the Pet Sematary is near an ancient Micmac Indian burial ground. Rachel thinks that the Pet Sematary is morbid.

When Ellie’s cat, Church, is killed by a car, Jud tells Louis the secret of the Micmac burial ground: Animals buried there come back to life, though, as Jud says, they may be “mean” and “a little stupid, slow.” Jud helps Louis bury Church in the Indian burial ground, where Louis sees strange lights and hears frightening sounds. On the following morning, Church returns home. The...

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Literary Techniques

Perhaps more than in any of his other works, the dramatic effectiveness of Stephen King's prose style is evident in Pet Sematary. The...

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Ideas for Group Discussions

Pet Sematary is counted among Stephen King's best novels. It is also one of the darkest; in fact, it was promoted (inaccurately) as...

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Literary Precedents

Pet Sematary, quite evidently, touches upon one of the most basic of all archetypal taboos, and as such, warrants comparison to a...

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Related Titles

As noted previously, the themes of recurring evil and the "Bad Place" are present in a variety of King's works, and, as shall be seen...

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A motion version of Pet Sematary, directed by Mary Lambert, was released in 1989. It stars Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, and Denise...

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(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Beahm, George, ed. The Stephen King Companion. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McMeel, 1989.

Beahm, George, ed. Stephen King from A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McMeel, 1998.

Blue, Tyson. The Unseen King, Mercer Island, Wash.: Starmont House, 1989.

Magistrale, Tony. Hollywood’s Stephen King. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Magistrale, Tony. Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press, 1988.

Reino, Joseph....

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