Summer Reading

Kaitlin Jansson

'Salem's Lot

By day, Jerusalem's Lot, or better known as 'Salem's lot, is a typical, modest, New England town, but what happens when the sun goes down? This question is brought to Ben Mears attention when he moves back to the Lot in Maine, 25 years after moving away, to write his next novel and face an old, haunting fear. Stephen King uses the lives of each town member to demonstrate to the readers how vampires taking over a town effects everyone. While the vampires claim more victims, Ben convinces a small group of believers, including a 63-year old English teacher and the priest of the Catholic Church in town, to fight against these undead town citizens.

Most books about vampires are used to romanticize the horrible undead creatures. Stephen King, however, took the opportunity to write " 'Salem's Lot" in a much different way. Though King does include a love story in this novel, he uses the vampires to show that once turned into a vampire, a person is no longer the person they were when alive. King doesn't shy away from the fact that they are violent and vile creatures of horror and that is what, I believe, makes this novel so great. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially to people who enjoy horror books with a lot of action. Vampires are not creatures of affection and King does a phenomenal job of showing this through this novel.

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Ben Mears

Ben Mears is a successful writer who grew up in 'Salem's Lot. Mears is a tall, lanky, black-haired man with "finely drawn features," as King describes him. He returns to the Lot 25 years after leaving to face a haunting fear from his childhood and write a book about the town famous Marsten House. However, when he returns he discovers someone has bought the old house and is living in it. This is Ben's first big obstacle in the novel. Ben's biggest fear was the Marsten House. As a child, he was dared to enter the house and enter the room where the previous owner had hung him self. When Ben did the dare he swore the dead man was still in the room, hanging from the ceiling when the man opened his eyes and looked at Ben. He is also faced with the problem of his girlfriend, Susan Nortan, being turned into a vampire by the new owner of the house, Mr. Barlow. He faces his childhood fear and also resolves his second big issue toward the end of the book when he enters the Marsten House and, sadly, has to run a wooden stake through Susan's heart. We can see how much Ben has grown at this part of the book because not only did he enter the house and face his fear, but he also did something not many men would be willing to do, especially after already having lost one wife, by putting an end to his loves life. I think it is plain to see that, even though he wasn't a very strong man in the beginning of the novel, by the end of the story Ben has improved himself greatly.
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Setting and Theme

The setting of " 'Salem's Lot" helps to advance the plot very much throughout the story. 'Salem's Lot is described as a small town in Maine, toward the south of the state about 20 minutes away from Portland, the town is also very isolated according to Ben Mears. Because the Lot is a small town, turning all the members of the town into vampires slowly turns into a race between Mr. Barlow and Ben and his team. The faster Mr. Barlow and his vampires turn the towns people into vampires, the less people Ben has the chance to save and get to help fight against Barlow. The isolation of the town also explains why Barlow can turn these towns people into vampires, not many other people in Maine are going to hear about whats going on, or care, and if people do find out, not many are going to believe.

Throughout the novel, the theme of belief comes into play. Belief protects certain characters and leads other to their turning. For the most part, the characters that believe most readily in the vampires and the "superstitions" they can use to protect themselves are those who live. Mark Petrie is the most obvious example. Mark is a big believer in monsters and and their stories and their weaknesses. When Susan and Danny both come to Mark's window separately, he knows from his beliefs that they can only enter his bedroom if invited in, and when Danny tries to control his mind he realizes what is going on a fights it the best he can. These things are what help save Mark's life. Father Callahan believed in his crucifix for as long as he could and as soon as he stopped believing Barlow took him over and made the Father "unclean," as he called himself. In conclusion, setting and theme played a big part in developing this story.

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