Salem's Lot

by Stephen King

Character Analysis

Ben Mears, a dark haired middle aged writer who spent his childhood in Jerusalem's lot, has returned in hopes of finding inspirtion for his new novel. He is drawn to the Marsten house on the top of the hill, where a homicide and suicide occurred. Ben is an extremely intelligent individual who analyzes everything to an extreme extent. When Vampires began to lurk around Salem's Lot, Ben kept a level head and tried to deal with each problem in a rational way. He did his best to look at things in a meticulous way but also had an understanding that in times of panic, you must move quickly in order to come out alive. For example, once Ben recognized that the vampires were lurking Salem's lot, he went to the priest and asked for his help in a proactive effort to stop the spread of the living dead. Another example would be when Ben went to Matt Burke's house in order to devise a plan to stop the vampires. One last example of Ben's rational thinking would be his decision to set the town on fire as he was leaving in an effort to prevent the vampires from ever lurking again.

Development

Theme-


1) The theme of belief is vital in this novel. It seemed that those who truly believed were the ones who began to take steps towards fighting the vampires, and ultimately survived longer than the rest. For example, Mark Petrie believed in everything that was going on due to his innocence. He had seen this all before in his comic books and knew how to fight it. When it happened in real life, he didn't question it because unlike most adults, he didn't need rational solutions to every problem that arose. Another example would obviously be Ben Mears. Although Ben is a rational individual, he is also a writer, therefore his imagination allows him to believe in what was going on in Salem's Lot. Both Mark and Ben were the two survivors from the Vampire outbreak and were able to escape the town, but not before they set it on fire. The theme of belief aided in developing the plot because slowly we were able to realize that those who believed the most were the ones who were ultimately going to come out alive. It made it interesting to see who would last longer without becoming part of the living dead.


2) Another recurrent theme in Salem's lot is the idea of the bad that exists in everything that is good. Salem's lot is your typical town, with a humble population and everyone knows everyone else's ordeals. Everyone is extremely comfortable and happy in Salem's lot because they've always known it to be a good place. However, the darkness in the town began to override the light once the vampires spread. This theme advances the plot of the story by painting a picture perfect town and demonstrating how even somewhere like Salem's lot has it's dark secrets. As the darkness takes over, it peaks the reader's interest to see how the seemingly normal town reacts.


3) One last theme in Salem's lot is sacrifice. Ben Mears' love interest, Susan Norton, eventually becomes part of the living dead. She was laying dormant in the Marsten house basement when Ben and his team- which consisted of Mark Petrie, Father Callahan, Matt Burke, and Jimmy Cody- decided to enter the house and put a stake in the hearts of the vampires. When it came time to kill Susan, the team knew that the only person for the job was Ben. It was extremely hard for him to do but eventually he killed her because he knew that it was for the better. This is an act of sacrifice because Ben sacrificed his feelings for Susan for the safety of the survivors in the town. This aids in the development of the plot because it demonstrates how determined Ben was to end the spread of the vampire epidemic. It led the reader to believe that Ben wouldn't stop until his job was completely done.

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Characterization-


1) Stephen King was able to characterize Ben Mears in various different circumstances throughout the novel. King portrayed Mears as a passionate man in many different ways. The fact alone that Ben Mears moved to Salem's lot primarily to gather information for his new novel shows you how passionate he is about his career as a writer. Ben's passion for his career was exemplified further as the novel developed. The narrator explains on many different occasions how Ben would be up at all hours typing on his typewriter in his room at Eva Miller's boarding house, where he was staying in Salem's lot. This aids in developing the novel because it shows the reader that when Ben set his mind to something, it was going to get done correctly. Therefore, the reader knew that anything Ben did he did with conviction.


2) King made it evident that Mears was a courageous person. It took a lot of courage for him to revisit the Marsten house, where he had last seen Hubie Marsten hanging from the ceiling. Not only did Ben revisit the house, he tried to live in it. This obviously took an immense amount of courage. Also, Ben exemplified courage when he was left with no other option than to put a stake through Susan Norton's heart. He knew that she would only be set free if her love interest was the one that killed her, and Ben was the man for the job. This aids in developing the novel because it lead the reader to believe that Ben had the best chance of surviving in Salem's lot.


3) Lastly, King painted Ben Mears to be extremely dependable. Matt Burke suffered a heart attack and asked Ben to get him books from the library and he did. Also, Matt instructed Ben to make dozens of stakes for the vampire's hearts and Ben obeyed. Ben was also had extremely dependable insight, because he always seemed to know the right way to go about things and constantly looked out for others as well as himself. This was exemplified when he suggested the group not split up because there was power in numbers. Those who remained with him were safe, and those who strayed away became a part of the living dead. This aids in the development of the novel because it allowed the reader to realize early on that any person that stayed with Ben was going to survive. Throughout the novel, Mark Petrie remained by Ben's side, and the two escaped in the end.

Evaluation

I loved this book and often found it hard to put down at times. However, the plot developed slowly in the beginning, but once it picked up I liked the story. Stephen King did an excellent job of providing details that painted a vivid picture in the reader's mind. I would reccomend this book to anyone who enjoys scary stories or someone who doesn't like to read because I think this book could change that for a lot of people. I liked that the story was told from an objective voice because there was characterization from the supporting characters as well as the protagonist. I was extremely pleased with the ending and I didn't feel as if there were any open ends. Reading Salem's lot has made me extremely excited to read more of Stephen King's novels. Overall I would give this book five out of five stars.
Salem's Lot (Trailer)