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Last Updated on November 21, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 395

Stephen King

Stephen King is the hero and antihero of his own narrative. King doesn't spare himself in the first part of the book as he recounts the funny, sad, joyful, and sometimes irreverent events of his early life. He comes across as a scrappy, energetic, intelligent, and curious person whose singular vision has risen out of a catch-as-catch-can childhood. He has had amazing success, but he has also struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. King depicts himself not as a Superman but rather as a definitive Everyman.

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Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King

If the first half of the book has a hero, it is Stephen's mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. Few vignettes from the first part of the book are more emotionally powerful than those that include her. King credits his tired mother with coming home from a day of work, sitting on the floor by her purse to read her young son’s story, and telling him it is good enough to be published. “Nothing anyone has said to me since has made me feel any happier,” King says. He paints a powerful portrait of Nellie as a strong woman—withstanding the taunts of her married sister, holding the family together, going to work at miserable jobs, and finally dying of cancer as her sons hold her last cigarette to her lips. Nellie is no shrinking violet: she copes with life head-on. As King recounts, she once threw a bowl of Jell-O on the floor and danced in it while her sons screamed with laughter. If nothing else, the first half of the book is an appreciation of the woman who made Stephen King who he is.

David King

With a mixture of irony and sincerity, King describes Dave as a “great” older brother. Too smart for school, Dave has many ideas and boundless energy, and he often drags Stephen into his misadventures.


If the book has a second hero, it is King’s wife, Tabby—a forthright, smart, strong, and supportive woman. Tabby and Stephen met in college, and they married young. It was Tabby who pulled the crumpled first pages of Carrie from the wastebasket and told the dubious King she thought he was on to something; it was Tabby who arranged the intervention that led to King becoming sober; and it was Tabby who coaxed King back into writing after his near-fatal accident. 

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