The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

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...

(The entire section is 599 words.)