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The Stand  
The Stand cover.jpg
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Post-apocalyptic novel
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date 1978
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 823
ISBN 0385121687
Preceded by The Shining
Followed by The Dead Zone

The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It re-works the scenario in his earlier short story, Night Surf. The novel was originally published in 1978 and was later re-released in 1990 as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition; King restored some text originally cut for brevity, added and revised sections, changed the setting of the story from 1985 to 1990, and updated a few pop culture references accordingly. The Stand was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979, and was adapted into both a television miniseries for ABC and a graphic novel published by Marvel Comics.[1][2]

The book is dedicated to King's wife, Tabitha: "For my wife Tabitha: This dark chest of wonders."

Contents

Plot summary

"Captain Trips"

The novel is divided into three parts, or books. The first is titled "Captain Trips" and takes place over nineteen days, with the escape and spread of a human-made biological weapon, a superflu (influenza) virus known formally as "Project Blue" but most commonly as "Captain Trips" (among some other colloquialisms). The epidemic leads directly to the death of an estimated 99.4% of the world's human population.

King outlines the total breakdown and destruction of society through widespread violence, the failure of martial law to contain the outbreak, and eventually the death of virtually the entire population. The human toll is also dealt with, as the few survivors must care for their families and friends, dealing with confusion and grief as their loved ones succumb to the flu.

The expanded edition opens with a prologue titled "The Circle Opens" that offers greater detail into the circumstances surrounding the development of the virus and the security breach that allowed its escape from the secret laboratory compound where it was created.

"On the Border"

Intertwining cross-country odysseys are undertaken by a small number of survivors, including:

  • Stu's party:
    • Stuart Redman, a factory worker from the fictional tiny town of Arnette, Texas;
    • Frances (Frannie) Goldsmith and Harold Lauder, a pregnant college student and an overweight high school outcast, respectively, both from Ogunquit, Maine;
    • Glen Bateman, a quick-witted, pessimistic sociology professor from New Hampshire, and his dog, an Irish Setter named Kojak (or Big Steve, as he later reveals himself)— one of the very few dogs immune to the plague;
    • Perion McCarthy and Mark Braddock, two lovers who are already a couple when they meet Stu's group;
    • Dayna Jurgens, a hard-headed and determined woman from Xenia, Ohio;
    • Susan Stern, a former student from Kent State University;
    • Patty Kroger, a beautiful young girl in her teen years.
  • Nick's party:
    • Nick Andros, an insightful deaf-mute wanderer originally from fictional Caslin, Nebraska;
    • Tom Cullen, a kind-hearted mentally challenged man from May, Oklahoma.
    • Ralph Brentner, a jolly, easy-going farmer from Oklahoma;
    • Dick Ellis, a former veterinarian in his early 50s;
    • Gina McCone, a little girl;
    • Olivia Walker, a sympathetic older woman;
    • June Brinkmeyer, a redhead woman in her mid-20s.
  • Larry's party:
    • Larry Underwood, a disillusioned pop musician from New York City;
    • Rita Blakemoor, a rich middle-aged woman from New York City;
    • Nadine Cross, a virginal kindergarten teacher with a dark secret from New Hampshire;
    • Leo "Joe" Rockway, a savage, amnesiac, and telepathic boy;
    • Lucy Swann, a 24-year-old housewife from New Hampshire;
    • Judge Farris, a man in his late seventies.

They are drawn together by both circumstances and their shared dreams of a 108-year-old black woman from Hemingford Home, Nebraska, whom they see as a refuge and a representation of good in the struggle of good versus evil. This woman, Abagail Freemantle (known as "Mother Abagail"), becomes the spiritual leader of this group of survivors, directing them to Boulder, Colorado, referred to as "the Free Zone" (officially "The Boulder Free Zone"), where they begin to reestablish a democratic society; much of this section of the book involves the struggles to create an orderly society more or less from scratch. Boulder is found to be hosting considerably fewer dead bodies of plague victims than other cities, due to a mass exodus following a false rumor in the early stages of the plague that the outbreak originated in the Boulder Air Test Center.

Meanwhile, another group of survivors includes

They are drawn to Las Vegas, Nevada by Randall Flagg (known as "the Dark Man", "the Hardcase", "the Tall Man", and "the Walkin’ Dude"), an evil being with supernatural powers; he represents evil, the opposite influence of Mother Abagail. Flagg’s rule is tyrannical and brutal, using crucifixion, torture and other torments as punishment for those who are disloyal and disobedient. His group is able to quickly reorganize their society, restore power to Las Vegas, and rebuild the city as many technical professionals have migrated to the city. The book notes that at Las Vegas, Flagg's group is constantly working and has organized a strong but harsh structure while at the Free Zone, some survivors lounge idly and do not work as hard. Flagg's group also has started a schooling system and weapons program with survivor Carl Hough as a helicopter pilot and the Trashcan Man searching the country for weapons.

The Free Zone's democratic society is not without its problems. Mother Abagail, feeling that she has become prideful and sinned due to her pleasure at being a public figure, disappears into the desert on a journey of spiritual reconciliation. Meanwhile, Harold's bitterness over his unrequited love for Fran and Nadine's secret commitment to Flagg lead the two of them to detonate a dynamite bomb at a meeting of the Free Zone committee. The explosion, which kills several people (including Nick Andros), takes place at the same time that Mother Abagail is discovered, severely weakened by her time in the wilderness.

"The Stand"

The stage is now set for the final confrontation as the two camps become aware of one another, and each recognizes the other as a threat to its survival, leading to the "stand" of good against evil. There is no pitched battle, however. Instead, at Mother Abagail's dying behest, Stu, Larry, Ralph and Glen set off on foot towards Las Vegas on an expedition to confront Randall Flagg. Stu breaks his leg en route and drops out. He encourages the others to leave without him, telling them that God will provide for him. Glen's dog stays behind with Stu. Glen, Ralph, and Larry soon encounter Flagg's men, who take them prisoner. When Glen rejects an opportunity to be spared if he kneels and begs Flagg, he is shot by Lloyd Henreid, on Flagg's direct order. Flagg gathers his entire collective to witness the execution of the other two, but before it can take place, Trashcan Man arrives with a nuclear warhead and a giant glowing hand—"The Hand of God"—detonates the bomb, destroying Flagg's followers and the two remaining prisoners.

Stu, with the aid of Kojak and later Tom Cullen, survives injury, illness, and a harsh Rocky Mountain winter. The three of them arrive back in Boulder soon after the birth of Fran’s baby. Although the baby falls ill with the superflu, he is able to fight it off. In the end, Stu and Fran decide to return to Maine, and the original edition of the novel ends with the two of them questioning whether the human race can learn from its mistakes. The answer, given in the last line, is ambiguous: "I don’t know."

The expanded edition follows this with a brief coda called "The Circle Closes", which leaves a darker impression and fits in with King’s ongoing "wheel of ka" theme. Randall Flagg, using the alias "Russell Faraday", arrives on a beach and begins recruiting adherents among a preliterate, dark-skinned people.

Characters

Project Blue

Charlie D. Campion

A soldier stationed out in the California desert, Campion is patient zero, the original carrier of the superflu outside of its containment area. On duty the night the virus escapes the complex, he manages to flee with his wife and baby daughter before the lockdown of the base. He and his family finally succumb to the flu in Texas, spreading the virus and unleashing the events of the story.

General William "Billy" Starkey

As the commanding officer of Project Blue, Starkey is aware that the superflu is almost impossible to control once loose. But he covers up the accident and its ensuing pandemic as long as he can; under his leadership, journalists who try to reveal the truth are executed. In an attempt at retaining plausible deniability, he orders a contingency plan into effect: to release the virus on several other continents in an effort to make it seem as though the U.S. did not create it artificially. After being dismissed by the President due to his failure to contain the virus, he commits suicide in the laboratory where the superflu was created.

Boulder

Abagail Freemantle

Abagail Freemantle, also known as "Mother Abagail", is the personification of good in the story, in contrast to Randall Flagg. She lives on the family farm in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, and, like Flagg, appears to many of the survivors in dreams. Those dreams seem to "call" people first to her home in Nebraska, and later to the stronghold in Boulder.

Stuart Redman

A quiet man from the fictional town of Arnette, East Texas, Stu was at his friend’s gas station the night Charles Campion arrives. Consequently, he is the first man discovered to be immune to the superflu, and is taken by authorities first to the Atlanta CDC, then to the (fictional) Stovington, Vermont plague center. It is there that he escapes from the government agents sent to kill him. He wanders New England for a few days before meeting Glen Bateman and, shortly after, Fran Goldsmith and Harold Lauder. Stu becomes romantically involved with Fran along the way, even accepting the unborn child she carries, but their involvement creates ill will with Harold Lauder, who holds an unrequited love for her.

Stu rises to authority in the Free Zone, becoming the spokesperson for the Free Zone Committee and its first Marshal. However, after an assassination attempt by Harold, Stu is told by Mother Abagail that he is to head out west to make a stand against Randall Flagg. Stu agrees and leads Larry, Glen, and Ralph west to Las Vegas. However, Stu breaks his leg in Utah and is forced to remain behind, along with Kojak the dog (who brings Stu food). He becomes ill due to injury and exposure, but witnesses the final destruction of Las Vegas from a distance and is subsequently saved by Tom Cullen, who nurses him back to health. Stu and Tom then trek back to Boulder, where he is reunited with Frannie, who has given birth to the first known surviving child on Earth. Stu and Frannie later leave Boulder to raise their family in Maine.

Frances Goldsmith

A college student from Ogunquit, Maine, Fran (or Frannie, as she is often called), is pregnant at the start of the book, a topic which results in a painful standoff with her mother and the end of her relationship with the baby’s father, Jesse Rider. The superflu decimates her community, with Fran and Harold Lauder being the only local survivors. After burying her father, Frannie joins forces with Harold and the two make their way to the Stovington, Vermont, facility of the Centers for Disease Control in hopes of finding someone in authority, but are later told by Stuart Redman that the facility is dead. They continue on, with Stu and Glen Bateman, and find the facility just as Stu reported. They then make their way west to Mother Abagail, during which Fran falls deeply in love with Stu, a fact she records in her diary.

Fran serves on the original Free Zone Committee in Boulder and acts as its moral compass. Upon her union with Stu, Harold becomes jealous, but later appears to let bygones be bygones. However, Fran remains suspicious of him, which later turns out to be valid when she finds his diary and plot to kill Stu. She saves the majority of the committee when she receives an intuition of doom in the form of the planted bomb. She is moderately injured in the blast, but her unborn child remains safe. Fran is opposed to Stu traveling west, but comes to terms with it when she realizes it is what he has to do. Fran later moves in with Lucy Swann and delivers a baby boy. Though there is initial joy at the birth, her child falls ill with the superflu and Fran is crushed. However, she is rewarded by news of both Stu’s return to the Free Zone and her baby’s recovery. Throughout the novel, Fran becomes more and more homesick for her native Maine, and at the end of the book she, Stu, and the baby make their way back east; it is strongly implied she is pregnant again with Stu's baby.

Peter Goldsmith-Redman

Fran’s baby is the first surviving child born in the Boulder Free Zone. He is stricken with the superflu soon after birth, but his partial immunity inherited from Fran enables him to recover.

Harold Lauder

Harold is 16 years old and lived in Ogunquit, Maine, at the beginning of the novel. He is the younger brother of Fran Goldsmith’s best friend, Amy Lauder, and is a social outcast in his local high school. Harold doesn’t help matters for himself by being rather obnoxious and uppity. A practicing but unpopular writer, he prefers to use a manual typewriter. After the superflu wipes out the entire population of Ogunquit except for himself and Fran, the two decide to head to the Stovington Plague Center in Vermont. Harold decides to leave a prominent note, on the roof of a barn , detailing their plans and directions for future travelers. This ongoing effort by Harold, for which he is later congratulated by Larry Underwood, allows several other groups to join together in Colorado.

Harold falls in love with Fran and sees himself as her protector of sorts. When they meet Stuart Redman, Harold refuses to allow him to join, even going so far as to threaten Stu with a gun, but after a conversation in which Stu tells him he just wants to come along and has no designs on Fran, Harold relents. After the plague facility proves to be a disappointment, the survivors head to Nebraska, and then Colorado to join Mother Abagail, picking up more survivors along the way. Harold attempts to profess his love for Frannie, only to be rebuffed. As Fran becomes involved with Stu, Harold finds his jealousy growing.

Eventually, Harold disregards Fran's privacy, and rifles through her backpack. He finds her diary and begins reading it. There he finds that Fran has made several insulting comments about him, mocks him in her private thoughts, and considers him to be "immature". This proves to be the breaking point for Harold; from this point on he swears vengeance on Fran and Stuart.

Harold quickly becomes a respected and well thought of member of the Boulder Community; despite his unappealing qualities he also possesses a keen mind and, often, his ideas are used to better the community. In a moment of emotional clarity, Harold realizes that he truly is accepted and valued in this strange new world, and that he has the freedom to choose a new life for himself as a respected member of society. However, unable to cast aside his past humiliations and his image of himself, he rejects his last chance at redemption and surrenders instead to his dreams of vengeance, particularly on Fran and Stu (he goes so far as to aim a gun - while in his jacket pocket - at Stu while scouting for the missing Mother Abagail, but does not fire). Soon after this, Nadine Cross approaches him and reveals an in-depth knowledge of Harold’s insecurities, hatreds and fears. She hints at her own. They enjoy a decadent sexual playtime that involves everything except vaginal intercourse, which Nadine does not allow Harold to perform due to her supernaturally-inspired commitment to Randall Flagg. Harold succumbs to Nadine’s seduction. He fulfills Flagg’s wishes and creates a bomb to destroy the Free Zone Committee.

After detonating the bomb—which kills seven people—Harold and Nadine flee toward Las Vegas. However, Harold ends up wrecking his motorcycle and breaking his leg after slipping on an oil slick. Flagg, mistrustful of Harold for being "too full of thoughts", has apparently arranged the accident. Harold initially survives the accident, though terribly injured, and attempts to shoot Nadine. He misses and Nadine abandons him and continues to travel alone to meet Flagg in the desert.

Realizing that he is dying, Harold writes a note in which he takes responsibility for his actions, and expresses remorse and apologizes for them, though he knows he cannot be forgiven. Harold commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. His body is later found by Stu, Larry, Glen, and Ralph, and while they do not bury his corpse, Stu gently removes the gun from Harold's mouth and remarks that Harold’s actions were a waste not only of Nick and Susan, but of himself as well. To Stu's surprise, he finds himself wanting to avenge Harold as well as the other victims when he meets Randall Flagg.

Glen Bateman

An associate professor of sociology who went into retirement some years before the superflu hit, Glendon Pequod "Glen" Bateman met Stu near Glen’s home in Woodsville, New Hampshire. A senior citizen handicapped by arthritis, the wise Bateman is often on hand to dispense advice to his young friend. A loyal friend, Bateman also experiences dreams of Mother Abagail, and joins Stu, Frannie, and Harold on their journey to meet her. Bateman becomes part of the reform committee in Boulder. He also becomes one of the four men who must meet Randall Flagg in Las Vegas. But as Stu falls by the wayside, Glen, along with Larry and Ralph, goes to Las Vegas and is detained by Flagg’s forces. Flagg offers Glen his freedom if he will "get down on (his) knees and beg for it." Glen refuses, laughing at the Dark Man for being so transparent, upon which Flagg orders Lloyd Henreid to execute him. "It’s all right, Mr. Henreid", Glen says as he dies, "you don’t know any better."

Kojak

Glen Bateman's dog, an Irish Setter, whom he adopted after his original master died of the superflu. Formerly named Big Steve, Kojak is a rare survivor of the flu which impacted dogs and horses as well as humans. When Glen leaves with Redman, Kojak is initially left behind. However, he follows them and is later attacked by wolves after arriving at Mother Abagail's empty house. Kojak manages to walk to the Free Zone. He joins Glen, Stu, Ralph, and Larry on their journey to Las Vegas. When Stu is injured, he stays behind and kills rabbits and other small animals to feed Stu. After being found by Tom Cullen, he is taken back to Boulder. It is stated that he will live for 16 years after his master's death, putting his own death in 2001-2 (original edition), 2006-7 (revised).

Susan Stern

Part of an unwilling harem of women who were taken captive by evil Superflu survivors and repeatedly raped, Susan - a former student at Kent State University - is one of the women Stu and his party rescues. Sue becomes a member of the original Boulder Free Zone Committee and recruits fellow captive Dayna Jurgens to spy out west. She is killed by Harold Lauder’s bomb in Ralph Brentner’s home.

Dayna Jurgens

A community college P.T. instructor from Xenia, Ohio, and one of the women whom Stu’s party rescues from the harem (in the uncut version). While she originally seems to display some romantic interest in Stu Redman, this does not extend beyond flirtation and two kisses, though it does cause Fran some consternation. Later, it is revealed that she is bisexual.

After residing in Boulder for a short time, she is recruited by fellow former captive Sue Stern to spy out west. In Las Vegas, she works with a streetlight-repair crew, and sleeps with Lloyd Henreid as part of her ploy to obtain information. While working with the light crew, she sees Tom Cullen on a passing truck. Flagg, aware of her identity through telepathy, summons her to his office and attempts to make her reveal the third spy, into whose mind he cannot see. In order to protect Tom Cullen, and to save herself from the torture that Flagg will put her through, Dayna commits suicide by breaking a plate glass window and impaling herself on the glass. This act of free will indicates the beginning of Flagg's downfall, as he foresaw her attempting to assassinate him and thwarted that, but did not predict her suicide attempt and could not prevent her death. Her body is desecrated by Flagg and later burned outside of Las Vegas.

Larry Underwood

Larry is a cocky young singer and composer who, at the beginning of the novel, is starting to reach real success with his debut single, "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" He falls in debt to a local drug dealer while living in Los Angeles, and travels to New York City to lie low while visiting his loving but deeply disapproving mother. As New York starts falling to pieces, Larry comes to his mother’s aid, but he is unable to prevent her death from the superflu. Not long after, Larry finds himself one of the few people left in New York City. He meets a troubled middle-aged woman named Rita Blakemoor and the two decide to leave New York together. They experience a frightening trek through the Lincoln Tunnel in order to leave New York; Larry often thinks back to this event and is terrified by it. Rita eventually dies from a drug overdose that Larry describes as "70% accident and 30% suicide", leaving Larry alone.

Haunted by her death and by his dreams of Randall Flagg, Larry is in a semi-catatonic state for several days until he finally collapses from exhaustion in New Hampshire. Recovering after a night’s sleep, Larry travels to Maine, where he plans to spend the summer, until he meets Nadine Cross and young Leo Rockway (known then only as "Joe"). The three travel together to Ogunquit, where they find Harold Lauder’s painted sign and its directions. Deciding to follow the directions, Larry leads Nadine and Joe to Stovington, Vermont, meeting Lucy Swann along the way. In Stovington, they find only Harold’s directions to Nebraska. Larry leads the ever-growing party to Nebraska and eventually on to Colorado, following Harold’s directions across the country. Though Larry is initially interested in Nadine, she spurns his advances and he begins a relationship with Lucy. Arriving in Boulder, Larry settles down with Lucy and Leo, becoming a member of the Free Zone Committee. Nadine attempts to reconcile with him, but Larry refuses her, choosing to remain with Lucy. Larry later breaks into Harold Lauder’s home with Fran Goldsmith after Leo instructs him to investigate before something horrible happens. They find Harold’s ledger, which states he intends to kill Stuart Redman. However, Harold’s plan is already in motion, and Stu narrowly escapes the assassination attempt the next day. Larry leaves Boulder with Stu, Ralph, and Glen when Mother Abagail instructs them to go to Las Vegas. Larry leads the party after Stu breaks his leg en route to Las Vegas, where Larry and Ralph eventually die in the nuclear explosion caused by Trashcan Man.

Nadine Cross

A teacher at a private school in Vermont, Nadine has retained her virginity due to some vaguely defined but powerful sense that she is destined for something as dark as it is unique. After the outbreak of the superflu, Nadine finds an emotionally damaged young boy whom she calls Joe; Joe has regressed to a savage state of mind but trusts her and stays with her. Nadine meets Larry Underwood when Joe finds him sleeping. Joe is working up the courage to kill the sleeping Larry when Nadine stops him. The pair secretly follow Larry to Maine, where Joe finally does try to kill Larry, only to be overpowered. After conversing with Larry, Nadine agrees to join forces with him and find other survivors. Nadine is attracted to Larry but her subconscious conviction that she must remain "pure" has strengthened and begun to take shape; she begins to both fear and anticipate that she is meant for Flagg.

Upon arriving in Boulder, Nadine begins to surrender to the seductive allure of the Walkin’ Dude, and Joe (who has recovered enough to give his real name as Leo Rockway) becomes reluctant to be with her. Later, Leo reveals that Nadine had already known that it was too late to sleep with Larry. Nadine makes a last desperate attempt to seduce Larry, which would break her virginal commitment to Flagg and free her, but he is by now firmly committed to Lucy Swann and rejects her advances. Nadine surrenders to Flagg completely, communicating with him via a Ouija board, an echo of her terrifying experience with a Ouija board in college, when she was first touched by Flagg ("WE ARE IN THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD NADINE"). On Flagg’s orders, she seduces Harold Lauder. Although she will not do "that one little thing" with him, they are apparently free to do whatever else, sexually, that they wish. She uses him to attempt to assassinate the committee, a plot that would have succeeded but for the return of Mother Abagail and a subconscious premonition of Frannie’s.

Nadine travels west with Harold; when his motorcycle crashes, she implies it was her choice that Harold die in a motorcycle accident rather than be killed by Flagg upon arrival in Las Vegas. Harold fires his pistol at her and very nearly hits her, suggesting that she might unconsciously prefer death to the dark consummation awaiting her and revealing that Flagg only has limited power. Nadine continues on towards Vegas until one night Flagg comes to her in the desert, revealing his true nature and raping her, an experience which so violates and horrifies her (while at the same time causing her immense pleasure) that she falls into catatonia. Flagg takes her with him to Vegas and installs them both in the penthouse suite of the MGM Grand, almost immediately announcing her pregnancy. At last, Nadine recovers sufficiently to taunt Flagg about his coming failure, and she succeeds in goading him into throwing her off the balcony, killing herself and the unborn child.

Lucy Swann

The first survivor encountered by Larry Underwood’s party, twenty-four year-old New Hampshire housewife Lucy has survived the superflu while her husband and daughter die. Lucy joins the party on their route to the Stovington Plague Center. She becomes romantically involved with Larry, a feeling that she feels is not shared because of Larry’s strong attraction to Nadine Cross, despite her seeming disinterest in him. However, when forced to make a decision, Larry chooses to remain with Lucy, much to her surprise. Lucy stands by Larry through his tenure as a member of the Free Zone Committee and serves as a devoted wife to him and as a mother to Leo Rockway. Unlike Fran Goldsmith, Lucy supports Larry’s decision to go west to confront Randall Flagg, though she does not know that she is pregnant herself at the time. Lucy takes care of Frannie during Stu’s absence and, at the end of the book, she has given birth to twins.

Judge Farris

A man in his late seventies who joins Larry’s party in Illinois while making their way to Nebraska. Usually referred to as just "The Judge", he is a well-spoken, educated and insightful man who served as a judge in the 1950s, but has since retired. Lucy and Larry like him immensely, and Larry is pained when he successfully recruits the Judge as the first Free Zone spy and is unable to tell a distraught Lucy where The Judge is after he "vanishes". The Judge attempts to infiltrate Las Vegas from the north, but is intercepted by Flagg’s sentries in Idaho. A firefight ensues, and the Judge is killed by several shots to the head. This direct violation of Flagg's orders is the first vague sign that his power is limited and his downfall is imminent. The sentries had been under strict orders not to "mark his head", so that it could be delivered as a message to the Free Zone, and Flagg appears to brutally kill the surviving sentry, Bobby Terry, (who had not only killed Farris, but also the other sentry, Dave Roberts) for disfiguring the Judge's face and hampering this plan.

Nick Andros

A twenty-two year-old deaf-mute drifter originally from Caslin, Nebraska, Nick is beaten and robbed outside of (fictional) Shoyo, Arkansas, by some local thugs shortly after the start of the epidemic. Moderately injured, he is befriended by the local sheriff and his wife and watches them die as the epidemic rolls along. As the epidemic progresses, as the newest deputy due to the lack of any other healthy people around, Nick also watches two of the four thugs who beat him die of the plague in the local jail. He later frees the third, only to be confronted by the fourth, the fugitive Ray Booth, who has returned to kill him. He very nearly dies as a result of a minor gunshot wound he received during the scuffle with Booth; Nick, in a panic, accidentally fires the gun holstered on his belt. The bullet scrapes his leg and becomes infected.

Nick eventually recovers and begins his journey to Hemingford Home, Nebraska. Along the way he meets Tom Cullen, and later Ralph Brentner, June Brinkmeyer, Gina McCone, Dick Ellis, and Olivia Walker, and they become a surrogate family to him. Nick leads the growing band of survivors to Nebraska and Mother Abagail, who guides them to Boulder. Nick serves on the Free Zone Committee, of which he is the leading thinker, and eventually recruits Tom Cullen to spy out West. Nick is killed by Harold Lauder in Harold's assassination attempt on the Committee, and it is later revealed that it was Nick who was meant to lead the stand against Randall Flagg. Nick’s spirit appears to Tom Cullen after his death, guiding him on his way home and showing him how to save Stu Redman’s life during Stu's bout with illness.

In the Complete and Uncut edition, Nick loses sight in one eye for a period of time when he is attacked by Booth, the leader of the four thugs. Booth is shot and killed by Andros, but the resulting damage causes Nick to wear an eyepatch for almost the rest of the story.

Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen is a man initially thought to be in his mid-20's to mid-30's who suffers from mild to moderate mental retardation. Nick encounters him while cycling from Arkansas to Nebraska through Oklahoma. After Nick discovers Tom remembers his father's return from the Korean War, he realizes Tom must be much older than he thought, perhaps in his 40's. The two bond closely despite the fact that Nick cannot speak, and Tom cannot read Nick’s notes, though when the two encounter Ralph Brentner, Tom is finally able to learn Nick's name.

Tom generally possesses a childish speech pattern, peppered with exclamations of "My laws!" and "Laws, yes!" and he makes frequent references to himself in the third person. Tom also believes that everything is spelled "M-O-O-N" as in "M-O-O-N, that spells 'my main man'." When needing to make a logical connection, Tom, who is sometimes capable of normal thought, may slip into a form of self-hypnosis wherein he is able to make connections that he cannot while "awake" (that is, conscious and focused on something superficial). Nick, Stu, and Glen use this ability to place a post-hypnotic suggestion in Tom that will help him to act as the third Free Zone spy. During his hypnosis, Nick, Stu, and Glen discover that while hypnotized, Tom possesses the same type of foresight as Mother Abagail, referring to himself as the same Tom that Nick met in Oklahoma, but at the same time he proclaims himself to be "God’s Tom".

Tom travels West, giving a hypnotically-imprinted cover story to get accepted into Las Vegas, and is able to avoid detection by Flagg. Tom’s anonymity seems to stem from his disability, as Flagg tells Dayna that every time he tries to see the third spy, all he sees is the moon; this confirms Dayna's sighting of Tom earlier (while both were on Vegas work crews), and her desire to protect both Tom and his status as a spy compels her to commit suicide rather than submit to further questioning by Flagg. The sight of the full moon rising over Las Vegas triggers Tom’s post-hypnotic suggestion, and he begins the return trip to Boulder, appropriately noting "M-O-O-N, that spells moon."

During his return to Boulder, he encounters Stu, who is suffering from a broken leg and pneumonia due to exposure. Originally, Tom was far east of where Stu fell, but a prophetic dream tells him that he must double back to find Stu. With help from Nick's spirit, who appears to him in visions (due to the fact that Nick is already deceased from Harold Lauder's bomb, although Tom doesn't know this), Tom is able to nurse a delirious and dying Stu back to health while they are snowed in for much of the winter at a motel in central Utah. Together, they return to Boulder to report the destruction of Las Vegas.

Ralph Brentner

Nick and Tom are the first characters to meet Ralph, an amiable Midwest farmer, as their paths cross on a highway between Oklahoma and Nebraska, and together they form the first party to find Mother Abagail. Despite a lack of formal education, Ralph is possessed of a great deal of common sense and is very skilled with tools and machines, and is elected to the first Free Zone Committee. Ralph typically serves as Nick’s "voice", reading his notes to the others during committee meetings. Ralph survives Harold Lauder’s assassination attempt (but loses the third and fourth fingers on his left hand), and is chosen as one of the four to stand against Flagg. Along with Stu, Glen, and Larry, he walks to Las Vegas, and is instrumental in convincing Larry to leave Stu behind after he breaks his leg. Ralph is captured by Flagg along with Glen and Larry, and is to be executed by dismemberment in front of the MGM Grand hotel. Ralph is the first to notice the "Hand of God" as it descends from the sky and onto Trashcan Man’s nuclear weapon, detonating it and killing him and everyone else present.

Las Vegas

Randall Flagg

Randall Flagg, also known as "the Dark Man" or "the Walkin’ Dude", is the main antagonist of the novel—more (or less) than a man, he is the embodiment of evil, an antichrist-like being whose goal is destruction and death. In the novel, he is presented as diametrically opposed to Mother Abagail’s personification of good.

The Dark Man character appears in many guises in other King novels and short stories, often with the initials "R.F." This very powerful, yet very unstable character is spread through King's other stories, most notably in The Dark Tower series. Flagg is also the main villain in The Eyes of the Dragon, and there are some passages in that book that allude to Flagg being immortal and pure evil.

Flagg's appearance shifts between human, demon, and various animals, and it is implied that he has lived many lives in many times; "Flagg" is just the name of his present form. Flagg is described by Tom Cullen as follows: "He looks like anybody you see on the street. But when he grins, birds fall dead off telephone lines. When he looks at you a certain way, your prostate goes bad and your urine burns. The grass yellows up and dies where he spits. He’s always outside. He came out of time. He doesn’t know himself." On the occasional instances when the reader sees through Flagg’s perspective, this insight is borne out: he does not know where he came from, has no memory of his life before Captain Trips though he vaguely remembers isolated violent or hateful events such as KKK lynchings and murdering police officers, taking part in race riots in the 1960s, being involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and some vague speculation that he was involved in Charles Manson's family. Most of these memories are marked by the note that Flagg was able to escape just at the last second at the end of many of these events, but that the events nourish his evil nature.

Like Mother Abagail, Flagg appears to various survivors in their dreams, providing a choice and attracting those who are drawn to structure, destruction and power. He rescues Lloyd Henreid from starvation in prison and with him as second-in-command establishes a community in Las Vegas, Nevada. Though Flagg has the ability to predict the future, along with several other demonic powers, as the events of The Stand unfold he begins to lose his power little by little as his plans go more and more awry. At the end of the novel, the Hand of God detonates a nuclear bomb, destroying Flagg’s gathered followers and Las Vegas. The uncut edition of the novel includes an epilogue in which Flagg, in a new incarnation, wakes in an unknown tropical location, where he meets a primitive tribe, telling them that he has come to teach them civilization and identifying himself as Russell Faraday.

Lloyd Henreid

Lloyd starts off as a petty criminal who, along with Andrew "Poke" Freeman, engages in a killing spree across Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico resulting in six murders, Freeman’s death, and Lloyd’s detention in a Phoenix jail. If he undergoes his scheduled trial, it is likely that he will be placed on Death Row under a new statute that reduces the delays and appeals in the capital punishment process. Once the plague hits, people at his prison start dying, including the guards. Lloyd is forgotten in his cell and eventually becomes the sole survivor. Lloyd is able to save himself by eating food he has saved, along with whatever rats, roaches, or other vermin he can catch, and very nearly the leg of a dead cellmate (in the uncut version, Flagg insinuates that Lloyd did indeed eat some human flesh, despite Lloyd's attempts to hide the cuts in the leg before the Dark Man arrived). He is found by Randall Flagg, who frees him from his cell after Lloyd, at that point starving and nearly delirious, agrees to be Flagg’s right-hand man despite suspicions about the man being the devil. At this time, Flagg also gives Lloyd a black stone with a red flaw as a symbol of Lloyd’s allegiance to Flagg.

Lloyd, oddly enough, finds himself feeling more intelligent and able than he thought he was, running several of the day to day activities in Vegas and even overseeing operations at a military base; he attributes his newfound abilities to Flagg. For saving his life and elevating him to his second-in-command, Lloyd is fiercely loyal to Flagg, and chooses to remain with him despite his growing doubts over Flagg’s control of the situation, even when offered the opportunity to leave Las Vegas with several close friends. Lloyd respects the men's decision and does not blow the whistle to Flagg about the deserters, but he does not follow. Lloyd is present at the execution of Larry and Ralph, and is killed in the nuclear explosion caused by the Trashcan Man’s atomic warhead. Before that, Randall Flagg makes him shoot Glen Bateman. As Glen dies, he forgives Lloyd with his dying breath, saying "It's all right, Mr. Henreid.... you don’t know any better." Lloyd's last words were: "Oh shit, we're all fucked!"

"The Trashcan Man"

Donald Merwin Elbert, better known as the "Trashcan Man", is a schizophrenic pyromaniac, whose favorite phrase is "bumpty bump". He often found himself in trouble as a youth due to his fixation with fire. He was treated with shock treatments at an institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, before being incarcerated for arson as a teenager. Trash leaves prison during a work detail (carrying plague victims’ bodies from prison cells) and returns home to (the fictional) Powtanville, Indiana. Trash indulges his ambition of setting cities afire, setting fire to oil tanks in Powtanville, and then destroying the city of Gary, Indiana. He permanently disfigures his arm in the Powtanville incident when he tries to jump a railing and breaks his arm at the wrist, a break which he does not properly set and which later causes his hand to point away from his body at an almost 90 degree angle. He also severely burns his broken arm, as well as his upper thigh, when a piece of exploding tank hits him, covering the areas with burning oil.

He abandons his original plans of starting fires randomly all over America to join Randall Flagg when the dark man appears in his dreams and promises him work, "great work" (as Flagg puts it) in the desert. After treating his severely burned arm, he finds a bicycle and makes his way west with all speed. Along the way, Trash briefly hooks up with a cocky, maniacal street hood named The Kid, but when The Kid threatens not only to kill Trash (several times, always for petty reasons), but to overthrow the Dark Man, Flagg sends wolves to save him. The Kid ends up holed up in a car with the pack of wolves surrounding it day and night.

The threat neutralized, Trash moves on to Las Vegas and he also receives a black stone with a red flaw. Due to his savant talent regarding destructive devices, he is assigned to search for weapons in the desert and to assist in arming the fighter jets at Indian Springs Air Force Base. Trash does well until, when being teased by fellow workers, a comment causes him to flash back to his tormented youth and revert to his old destructive ways.

In a schizophrenic episode, Trash destroys several trucks and aircraft, kills the most experienced pilots Las Vegas has, and flees into the desert. Overcome with anguish over his actions, Trash originally sets out to kill himself but later makes an attempt at redemption by bringing Flagg the most powerful weapon he can find: an atomic bomb, in the form of a warhead detached from a missile. Trash transports the nuclear warhead in a trailer attached to an ATV across the desert, coming down with a lethal case of radiation sickness in the process; the sickness has reached its terminal stage when Trash arrives in town. Trash ultimately brings about Flagg’s (apparent) destruction as the Hand of God descends and activates the warhead, destroying Las Vegas and everyone in it.

"The Kid"

"The Kid" is a thug from Shreveport, Louisiana who meets the Trashcan Man en route to Las Vegas. He drives a souped-up hot rod and has a fanatical love of Coors beer and Rebel Yell whiskey. He is also ambitious, unstable, and easily angered, as Trashcan discovers, when The Kid nearly kills him for spilling a can of beer on the carpet. After becoming monumentally drunk, The Kid forces Trash to give him a handjob while sodomizing him with a pistol. The Kid and Trash travel together until they reach the permantently blocked Eisenhower Tunnel. After he threatens Trashcan Man's life one too many times, and threatens to overthrow the Dark Man, The Kid ends up trapped in a car surrounded by wolves sent by Flagg. The Kid survives for several days until, facing starvation, he jumps out of the car and fights the wolves, strangling one as he dies. His body is later found by Stu, Larry, Glen, and Ralph; Larry dubs him "the Wolfman". In the original edition, The Kid appeared as a minor character and was never seen directly, only in Trashcan’s flashbacks; the extended edition includes the full story of his encounter with Trashcan. It has also been revealed in interviews that The Kid is meant to be the reincarnation of late-50s serial killer Charles Starkweather.

Julie Lawry

An unstable sex-crazed teenager who lives through the pandemic, she has sex with Nick Andros in the deserted store where they meet and then attempts to convince Nick to leave Tom Cullen behind. However, when she reveals her true nature, ridiculing Tom's impairment and frightening him into refusing Pepto-Bismol by claiming it is poison, Nick rejects her. She then tries to kill them with a rifle. She ends up joining Randall Flagg and, recognizing Tom Cullen, brings his existence as a spy to Lloyd's attention. She is most likely killed in the atomic explosion in Las Vegas.

Whitney Horgan

An ex-Army butcher, Whitney joined Flagg's group and acts as a security guard and performs minor tasks but reports directly to Lloyd or Flagg himself. Whitney is the only person in Flagg's group who decides to take a stand at him and challenges his sayings before the executions of Larry and Ralph. Randall kills Whitney by empowering a bright lighted ball from his finger to attack and mutilate Whitney, who dies minutes before the atomic explosion destroys Flagg and any remaining followers.

Jenny Engstrom

A former nightclub dancer, Jenny awaits Flagg in Las Vegas with Ronnie and Hector and when he arrives, kisses his boots. She works for the group as a construction worker and becomes close friends with Dayna, who is confused by why such a nice person as Jenny is in league with the evil group. She is shocked when Dayna's true purpose in Las Vegas is revealed. Later, Whitney tells Lloyd that Jenny wants to flee the group. Flagg later tells Lloyd that he knows the names of people who want to leave, including Jenny. She is present during the executions and is most likely killed when the crowd runs away but is likely caught in the explosion.

"The Rat Man"

"Ratty" Erwins, a.k.a. The Rat Man, is a pirate-like hood who is often seen throughout the novel. He is described as dressing like a Ethiopian pirate, with a red sash, a necklace of silver dollars around his "scrawny neck" and a sword he often threatened Larry Underwood and Ralph Brentner with. He also nicknamed Larry Underwood "Wonder Bread", and Brentner "Farmer John". He is described him as "the only guy in Las Vegas too creepy [for Julie Lawry] to sleep with". He is supposedly killed in the explosion at the end of the book.

Background

In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, Stephen King writes about the origins of The Stand at some length. One source was Patty Hearst's case. The original idea was to create a novel about the episode because "it seemed that only a novel might really succeed in explaining all the contradictions".

The author also mentions George R. Stewart's novel Earth Abides, which describes the odyssey of one of the last human survivors after the population is decimated by a plague, as one of the main inspirations:

With my Patty Hearst book, I never found the right way in . . . and during that entire six-week period, something else was nagging very quietly at the back of my mind. It was a news story I had read about an accidental CBW spill in Utah. (. . . ) This article called up memories of a novel called Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart.

(. . .) and one day while sitting at my typewriter, (. . . ) I wrote—just to write something: The world comes to an end but everybody in the SLA is somehow immune. Snake bit them. I looked at that for a while and then typed: No more gas shortages. That was sort of cheerful, in a horrible sort of way. [3]

The Stand was also planned by King as an epic The Lord of the Rings-type story in a contemporary American setting:

For a long time—ten years, at least—I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting. I just couldn't figure out how to do it. Then . . . after my wife and kids and I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I saw a 60 Minutes segment on CBW (chemical-biological warfare). I never forgot the gruesome footage of the test mice shuddering, convulsing, and dying, all in twenty seconds or less. That got me remembering a chemical spill in Utah, that killed a bunch of sheep (these were canisters on their way to some burial ground; they fell off the truck and ruptured). I remembered a news reporter saying, 'If the winds had been blowing the other way, there was Salt Lake City.' This incident later served as the basis of a movie called Rage, starring George C. Scott, but before it was released, I was deep into The Stand, finally writing my American fantasy epic, set in a plague-decimated USA. Only instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg. The land of Mordor ('where the shadows lie,' according to Tolkien) was played by Las Vegas. [4]

King nearly abandoned The Stand due to writer’s block.[5] Eventually, he reached the conclusion that the heroes were becoming too complacent, and were beginning to repeat all the same mistakes of their old society. In an attempt to resolve this, he added the part of the storyline where Harold and Nadine construct a bomb which explodes in a Free Zone committee meeting, killing Nick Andros, Chad Norris, and Susan Stern. Later, Mother Abagail explains on her deathbed that God permitted the bombing because He was dissatisfied with the heroes’ focus on petty politics, and not on the ultimate quest of destroying Flagg. When telling this story, King sardonically observed that the bomb saved the book, and that he only had to kill half of the core cast in order to do this.

The Complete & Uncut Edition

The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition  
Stand1990.jpg
Complete & Uncut Edition cover
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date May 1990
Pages 1154

The time change of The Complete & Uncut Edition from 1980 to 1990 produced several anachronisms that may have resulted from careless editing, e.g. a character being paid a dollar for a morning’s babysitting; another being paid 35¢ per hour for manual labor in the 1970s; black and white TV sets owned by the poor and color TVs being owned by the more affluent characters; rental of a beachfront house in Malibu for $1000 (U.S.) per month; one character being portrayed as having been "in the war" (presumably Vietnam) despite being too young for such service; reference to "government issue" .45 pistols even though the military switched to the 9 mm M9 in the early '80s; TV news stations reporting the news on film instead of videotape; and "new" Datsun Z after Nissan discontinued the Datsun brand. There are also a number of typos in prints of The Complete & Uncut Edition that have not been corrected in any subsequent printing of the book, for example "Arrowsmith" for Aerosmith and "On The Boarder" for "On The Border" (the title of Book II).

Relation to other works

The Stand shares some aspects of other parts of King's literary "universe":

Randall Flagg and other elements of The Stand also appear in The Dark Tower series: the superflu, explicitly named as "Captain Trips", is said to be what killed all the inhabitants of a parallel Kansas in The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, Abagail Freemantle is mentioned as being on a quest "near parallel" to Roland Deschain’s quest in Wizard and Glass.

Flagg additionally appears as the evil wizard in The Eyes of the Dragon.

In the denouement, Stu and Tom happen upon an abandoned Plymouth Fury with the initials 'AC' engraved on the keychain. Arnold Cunningham was the owner of the 1958 Plymouth Fury in Christine.

The town of Hemingford Home, Nebraska where Mother Abagail lives was originally featured in King's short story "The Last Rung on the Ladder". It also appears in It, as the home of character Ben Hanscom. Radio signals from Arnette, Texas, are also heard in The Tommyknockers.

The Shop and the town of Castle Rock, Maine, both recurring features of King's works, are mentioned briefly in The Stand. Frannie also mentions the town of Bridgton, Maine, the setting of The Mist.

Adaptations

Live-action

A movie adaptation of The Stand was in development hell for 10 years. During the '80s Stephen King had planned a theatrical film, with George A. Romero directing and himself writing, not trusting somebody else with the project. However writing a workable screenplay proved difficult, due to the novel's length. King talked about adapting it for television but was informed that the television networks did not "want to see the end of the world, particularly in prime time." Eventually King allowed screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg, who was a fan of The Stand, to write his own adaptation on the novel. Pallenberg's script would clock the film in at close to three hours while still staying true to the novel. Everyone liked the script; however, just as it was about to finally come together, Warner Brothers backed out of the project. [6]

ABC eventually offered Stephen King the chance to make The Stand into an 8-hour miniseries for television. King wrote a new screenplay (toned down for television). The miniseries was broadcast in 1994, directed by Mick Garris and starring such actors as Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer, Laura San Giacomo, Ossie Davis, and Ed Harris.

Comics

Marvel Comics is adapting The Stand into a series of five six-issue comic book miniseries.[1] The series is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins. Colorist Laura Martin, letterer Chris Eliopoulos and cover artist Lee Berjemo are also confirmed to be on the staff. The first issue of The Stand: Captain Trips was released on September 10, 2008.[7]

See also

  • Dugway sheep incident, part of King's inspiration for the novel.
  • Earth Abides, an early post-apocalyptic novel which inspired King.
  • Swan Song - 1987 horror and fantasy book by Robert McCammon with a similar post-apocalyptic plot involving nuclear war survivors resisting a demonic being.
  • Watership Down, a similar novel involving a quest, save that Watership Down used rabbits instead of humans. Referenced in the novel.
  • The Lord of the Rings, a continent-spanning epic quest novel by J.R.R. Tolkien in which a handful of small, weak characters go up against an apocalyptic evil force. In Danse Macabre Stephen King noted the history of The Stand writing project saying it grew out of an attempt to write an "American Lord of the Rings" while he was living in Boulder, Colorado. Many of the motifs surrounding Randall Flagg in The Stand such as the all-seeing red Eye are explicit references to Sauron in the latter work.
  • The Dark Tower series. The concept of the villain Flagg as an extradimensional evil or Antichrist figure, capable of appearing in multiple later works of fiction by King, was introduced in The Stand.

References

External links








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