Quitters, Inc.

A short story by Stephen King

Plot Line

  • Exposition: At the beginning of the story, Richard Morrison is in an airport when he sees an old friend, Jimmy McCann. McCann has quit smoking, and gives Morrison the business card of the company that helped him stop, Quitters, Inc.
  • Rising Action: Morrison goes to Quitters, Inc. and discovers that their treatment puts his family in danger if he decides to ever smoke again. Morrison has no choice but to go through with his participation in the program, but he finds he struggles to not have a cigarette between his teeth at all times.
  • Climax: Morrison can't take it any longer, so when he thinks no one is looking, he decides to take a puff from a cigarette. This bad decision results in his wife, Cindy, being taken into the 'rabbit room': "Look, let her go," Morrison babbled. "It won't happen again. It was a slip, just a slip, that's all. I only had three drags and for God's sake it didn't even taste good!" (11).
  • Falling Action: Ever since he had to watch his wife experience the 'rabbit room', Morrison knows he won't ever smoke again because he doesn't want to watch his family undergo that terrible occurrence.
  • Resolution: At the end of the story, Morrison has gone over one year without smoking, which is a huge accomplishment.

Conflict

In the story Quitters, Inc., Richard Morrison has to decide which is more important: his family or his addiction to cigarettes. Without question, Morrison decides to protect his family from the harsh consequences if he decides to smoke again, which is very hard for him. This conflict is an internal conflict because if anything harmful happens, it all depends on the main character's actions and what he decides to do.

Characters

Richard Morrison

Richard Morrison is the main character (protagonist) of this story, married to Cindy and has a son named Alvin. Morrison is mostly characterized indirectly throughout the story, and it shows that he is anxious and scared of his family's well being after he goes through with the idea of Quitters, Inc.: "That's wonderful! What ever made you decide to quit?" "You," he said, "And... and Alvin." (9). With him really trying to escape his addiction, it shows how caring he is and how much love he has toward his family.

Vic Donatti

Vic Donatti is the man who guides Morrison through his time with Quitters, Inc. Through indirect characterization, I noticed that he seems a bit easygoing and used to people's reactions from consequences of smoking during their treatment. He also seemed a bit harsh, especially when he was so calmly explaining the harsh outcomes of what would happen to Morrison's family if he smoked: "Oh, no," Donatti said, "Your wife gets the rabbit trick, not you." Morrison looked at him dumbly. Donatti smiled. "You," he said, "get to watch." (8). From the way that Donatti smiled while he was explaining that, it shows he has a bit of an cruel side to himself.

Figurative Language

Although I didn't find many examples of uses of literary devices throughout this story, I found a few similes here and there that really emphasized what the author was trying to tell the reader. At one point in the story, Morrison was trying to escape the Quitters, Inc. building and not go through with the treatment, when Donatti spoke out: '"Sit down." The voice was as cold as shaved ice.' (7). This sentence really stood out to me because the author used the simile 'the voice was as cold as shaved ice', and I could imagine Donatti saying these words in that cold voice. In this section, the mood really changes just from that one sentence.

Theme

There are many messages or themes that this story can portray, but the number one idea that came into my head as I finished this short story was that the feeling of love is so much more powerful and important than any sort of addiction. I think that this is the theme because Morrison fights to stay away from his obsession of cigarettes to keep his family safe.
Going into this story, I didn't have any idea that the author would come up with this type of method to quit smoking and write about it. This is such a creative piece and it took unexpected twists and turns to keep surprising the reader. This short story is sci-fi, but many people still struggle with problems they have while trying to quit smoking today. If someone was really intent on quitting smoking, would they turn to Quitters, Inc. for help?