Welcome to the ENG 228 Stephen king WikiEdit
Group 5 in ENG-228-002's project on an author, Stephen King, and the book "Under the Dome"
About the Author: Stephen King
• Widely touted as the “King of Horror”. Has written over 50 books and many have been adapted into movies, TV series and comics.
• Rough childhood - his father abandoned them and his mother was hardly at home, having to work two jobs. King never fully recovered from this abandonment and it affected his childhood, marriage and eventually, his writing. His stories often reflect this void.
• King often stayed with different relatives who filled his head with ghost stories and bizarre occurrences, most of which made it into his stories
• He grew up being haunted by bizarre fears – fear of the dark, rats, bats, snakes, squishy things, falling into toilets, closed in spaces, death and the number 13 (among countless others). These fears eventually found their way into his stories.
• In the 80s, about the time when King’s popularity was at its peak, his addiction also peaked sky-high. His writing was fuelled by a constant stream of cocaine and alcohol, so much so, that he credited drugs and alcohol for inspiring some of his darkest stories. He was addicted mainly because of his fear that he wouldn’t be able to write if he sobered up.
• Eventually, he cleaned up after years of battling with drugs and alcohol. Many critics have pointed to the fact that King’s writing - during and post drug abuse eras - are quite different. His during-drug abuse era inspired stories such as The Shining and Carrie which have darker undertones as well as resemble hallucinations from a drug-induced mind as opposed to his post-drug abuse stories.
Under the Dome : In a Nutshell
Under the Dome is a story of how different people react to a crisis in a small town. The story is set in a small town in Maine called Chester’s Mill. Without warning, a mysterious and impenetrable dome materializes around the town, trapping everyone underneath it and sealing them from the rest of the world. Planes crash into the dome as it falls from the sky, a gardener’s hand is severed as the dome comes down on it and people running errands in the neighboring town are separated from their families. No one knows where this dome came from and no one can understand when - or if- it will go away. Time is running out as the people trapped underneath the dome scramble to survive and understand the sinister forces behind the dome.
Stephen King’s Writing Style
King’s writing style has been described to be “clear and lucid”, where an average reader can enjoy the story without reading too much into the subtext (D’Elia, 2007). King typically address issues traditionally associated with apocalyptic novel—loss of technology, human responsibility and culpability and survival of mankind (D’Elia, 2007) which is the basic premise of Under the Dome.
Often, King divides the chapters in his book into situations from the story, quotes or his characters. Under the Dome, for instance, is divided into chapters such as'The Airplane and the' 'Woodchuck’, ‘Barbie’, ‘Junior and Angie’, ‘Missile Strike Imminent’ and‘Wear It Home, It’ll Look Like a Dress’to mirror the characters, important quotes or the scenes from the story.King also relies heavily on parentheses when he wants to add more details, show the inner workings of the character’s mind, or incoherent thoughts.
Details : “But it was behind him now. Jim Rennie’s, Jim Junior, Sweetbriar Rose (Fried Clams Our Specialty! Always “Whole ” Never “Strips ”), Angie McCain, Andy Sanders. The whole deal, including Dipper’s. (Beatings Administered in the Parking Lot Our Specialty!) All behind him.” (p.28)
Inner Workings of the Character’s Mind: “Billy asked her if she had counted the cans in the recycling bin (no matter how loaded he got, Billy did his drinking at home and always put the cans in the recycling bin—these things, along with his work as an electrician, were his pride).” (p.91)
Incoherent Thoughts: “He looked up again, this time squinting his eyes against the hateful light, but the Seneca was gone, and even the buzz of its engine (also aggravating—all sounds were aggravating when he was getting one of these bitchkitties) was fading.” (p. 39)
His use of parentheses is also an indicator of his preference of using the third person omniscient point of view where he is able to delve into the character’s every thought, feeling and desire.
Stephen King and Point of View
King generally employs the third person point of view to narrate his stories. However, he takes this one step beyond by using an omniscient point of view. Three words sum up this point of view perfectly – You.Are.God.
The third person omniscient point of view is described as “... a narrative mode in which the reader is presented the story by a narrator with an overarching, seeing and knowing everything that happens within the world of the story, regardless of the presence of certain characters, including everything all of the characters are thinking and feeling” (Erica Cameron)
"Barbie could see the Maine countryside... shimmering like the air over an incinerator or a burning barrel. It was as if someone had splashed gasoline over a pane of glass."
- Barbie's POV
"Myra Evans was reaching for (a squash) when the Dome came down, and although her knees were in Chester's Mill, she was reaching for a Blue Hubbard squash that was growing a foot into the Motton line. She didn't cry out... there was no pain at first. It was too quick and clean for that."
- Myra Evans POV
|God-like-Authority. Lets the author’s voice take the front seat. The narrator’s voice becomes the voice of the story. The author now has more freedom in crafting that narrative voice||Transitions. When the author has free reign over their whole world they have a lot of information at their disposal. It can become tricky to decide when to show action and when to transition into the mind of a character (and which character’s mind for that matter)|
|Freedom. Allows the author to take the reader anywhere, at any time with the snap of the finger, and it gives more information to the reader in a shorter length of time. It enables a story to capture both breadth and depth.||Holier-Than-Thou. When a writer opts to use a God-like perspective in a novel, they may start to offer God-like judgment for their characters. Too much “narrative” judgment can turn off a reader and cause them to feel like they’re being preached to or that the story has some moral heavy-handedness|
|Traditional Storytelling. Most of the stories we were told as children were created in a third person point of view. There was a narrator and he/she told the story. Therefore it seems very natural to hear a story told in the third person. It harkens back to our deepest concepts of storytelling.||Distance. The omniscient POV can often be the most distant from the reader. First person offers intimacy, where third omniscient creates a distance. A skillful writer can still get inside a character’s head and offer emotions and feelings, but some writers find this difficult|
|Epic Story Telling. Omniscience seems a natural choice for stories of an epic nature. If you are telling a story with lots of characters, that spans many years, covers many lands/areas, the omniscient POV will be perfect||Confusion. Popping in and out of multiple character’s thoughts and feelings may be hard for the reader to know who the central character of the story is|
|Action! Helps the writer to get into the action. The third person creates more distance from the character and his/her thoughts. Therefore the writer can focus on the actions of the character||Frowned Upon. Some publishers discourage the use of 3rd person omniscient point of view for the limitations stated above|
Pros and Cons of This POV Style in Under The Dome
This style of POV has a few major pluses and minuses in this book in particular.
It's very effective at showing the same event from numerous perspectives. In the beginning, when the Dome comes down, you see it from many different points of view. Someone learning to fly a plane, a man trying to leave town, and even a woodchuck. And that's not even all of the POV's you get of that event.
Another strength is being able to see into the minds of many characters, both protagonists and antagonists. You get to know what almost everyone else knows, and put together the pieces of the puzzle yourself.
The biggest problem with this, however, is how frequently King jumps POV's. He leaps around numerous times in each chapter, and it's difficult to follow whose head you're now in, and where they are. This is especially jarring in the beginning, when he introduces many characters all at once.
Interview with Stephen King
Undertones in the Novel
As he said in the interview, this novel has many political and environmental undertones.
Contrary to what he said in the interview, they are rather heavy handed.
The main villain, "Big Jim" Rennie, is explicitly based on Dick Cheney.
“I enjoyed taking the Bush-Cheney dynamic and shrinking it to the small-town level. The last administration interested me because of the aura of fundamentalist religion that surrounded it and the rather amazing incompetency of those top two guys. I thought there was something blackly humorous in it. So in a sense, ‘Under the Dome’ is an apocalyptic version of ‘The Peter Principle.’" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/books/review/Upfront-t.html?_r=0)
Another minor villain, Andy Sanders, is based on George W. Bush, who King views as "[not] actively evil, he was just incompetent—which is how I always felt about George W. Bush"
The Dome also represents Earth, just on a much smaller scale. All of these people are trapped in the Dome, the same way (almost) all humans are "trapped" on Earth. Furthermore, there are parallels with our isolation on Earth and theirs in the Dome. We haven't found any intelligent life in the stars (yet), and so are "isolated" from the rest of the universe. "We have to conclude we're on our own, and we have to deal with it." Just like those in the Dome.
Stephen King's Reading
We’ve all faced rejection. We’ve all come up with an idea we thought was absolutely brilliant only to be completely shut down by the very first person we present this idea to.
So what do we do when this happens?
In chapter 15 of his Memoir on Craft, King describes a story he wrote years ago about stamps. Basically, he felt the story was brilliant. He had developed his characters well and had what he thought was an amazing plot and overall just a good story. When he submitted the story to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine he got it sent back to him. Rejected. Did he have any notes for corrections? Nope. All he told him: “Don’t staple manuscripts. Loose paper plus paperclip equal correct way to submit copy” (King, 39-40).
What does this mean for you?
King has been a popular author for many years. So popular in fact that his works have been made into movies and even television shows. Nobody is perfect. Rest assure, even if this piece that you swore is your greatest creation of all time only gets a rejection with a reminder to paperclip your manuscripts instead of stapling it, you are not alone. Everyone gets rejected before they reach their peak.
Though Under the Dome was a very popular book, there were also those who, like myself, did not very much enjoy it.King’s idea of using multiple points of view to tell a single story is really cool. Until you’re 100 pages into a 900+ page book and there has been no major plot development.
I’m not the only one that thinks so.
Abigail Nussbaum and James Parker both mentioned that same thing in both of their book reviews. Both Nussbaum and Parker agree, the way King develops his main antagonist, James Rennie is almost cartoonlike. Every time another character came close to “thwarting” Rennie and overcoming his regime, somehow their plans became destroyed and sometimes they even ended up dead.As far as you’re concerned, it’s okay not to be perfect. Accept your rejections and know that one day, there will be someone that thinks your story is just as brilliant as you think it is. As King puts it, “There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up” (King, 37).