Salem's Lot

by Tyler Gumpel


Jerusalem's Lot, or better known as 'Salem's lot, is a typical, modest, New England town. This town seems normal at first glance, but most people do not know the evil secret that is only revealed at night. Ben Mears discovers this secret when he moves back to the Lot, 25 years after moving away, to write his next novel and face an old, haunting, childhood fear. Stephen King takes breaks in the main story line to offer short glimpses into the lives of each town member. He does this to demonstrate to the readers how the vampires that are taking over the town effects everyone. As the vampires slowly claim more victims, Ben gathers a small group of believers to help him fight against these undead town citizens. This team includes a 63-year old English teacher, the priest of the Catholic Church in town, and a little boy.

Most books about vampires romanticize the horrible undead creatures. Stephen King, however, presents vampires in a different light. Even 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 shows blatantly that vampires are violent and vile creatures of horror and that is what makes this novel so amazing.

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Ben Mears

Benjamin Mears, a tall, lanky, black-haired man with finely drawn features is presented by King as the protagonist of the novel. Ben Mears is a successful writer who grew up in 'Salem's Lot, he returns to the Lot after 25 years to face a horrible fear from his childhood and to write a book about the town famous Marsten House. Ben's biggest fear was the Marsten House. As a child, he was dared to enter the house. Once in the house he decided to further the intensity of the dare 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 was traumatized.

When he returns he discovers a new evil has enveloped the Marsten house he faces 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 when he enters the Marsten House and, sadly, has to run a wooden stake through Susan's heart. It is clear that 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. It is clear that Ben is no static character.

1979 Salem's Lot Window Scene

Setting and Theme

The setting of " 'Salem's Lot" helps enhance the plot very much throughout the story. 'Salem's Lot a small town in New England, toward the south of the state of Maine. It is about 20 minutes away from Portland. 'Salem's Lot is also very isolated according to Ben Mears. The isolation of the town explains why Barlow is able to turn these towns people into vampires. No people outside of the town will find out, and if they do who will believe it, or even care. The fact that the Lot is a small town makes turning all the members of the town into vampires 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.

A large theme presented in this novel is belief. Belief protects certain characters and leads to the demise of others. The characters that believe in vampires and the "superstitions" that lead to protection against them are those who live. Mark Petrie's first experience is an obvious example. Mark is a huge believer in monsters and their weaknesses. In two separate occasions, Danny and Susan both come to Mark's window. Mark knows from his beliefs that they can only enter his bedroom if they are invited. When Danny tries to control his mind, Mark realizes what is going on a fights it the best he can. This belief is what help save Mark's life. Another example is what happened to Father Callahan, he believed in his crucifix for as long as he could. As soon as the Father stopped believing, Barlow took him and made the him "unclean." It is clear that setting and theme played a big part in developing this great story.

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