12 October 2012


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 15

I may be jumping the gun now, but I think that having two Book Club posts a week was an excellent idea! There's no way I could have waited any longer to keep discussing Pet Sematary.

The first thing I want to share is that Chapter 10 pretty much confirms my Rite of Passage theory from Meeting 14:

"Sometimes that pet cemetery is [children's] first eyeball-to-eyeball with death," Jud said. "They see people die on TV, but they know that's pretend, like the old Westerns the used to have at the movies on Saturday afternoons. On TV and in the Western movies, they just hold their stomachs or their chests and fall over. Place up on that hill seems a lot more real to most of em than all those movies and TV shows put together, don't you know? . . .

"Some kids it don't affect at all, at least not that you can see it, although I guess most of em kinda . . . kinda take it home in their pockets to look over later, like all the other stuff they collect. Most of em are fine. But some . . . you remember the little Holloway boy, Norma?"

She nodded . . . "He had
such nightmares," she said. "Dreams about corpses coming out of the ground and I don't know whatall. Then his dog died . . ."

(Like the retro cover? I thought it would be nice to change up the cover art with each post!)

Just when we think Billy Holloway's dog dying and needing its own burial in the pet cemetery only made things worse, we learn that it actually made things better. He had a coffin made, organised a funeral procession, got all the kids in the neighbourhood together . . . and the nightmares stopped. And we may consider the case as closed as the casket.

Of course, poor Ellie has a pet, too--and so this memory seems to foreshadow her own triumph (however anguishing) over the same rite of passage. But it's not Ellie who is having "such nightmares," is it?

Chapters 10 to 18

Now let me confess that I was thrown by Victor Pascow's death. His injuries are so extreme ("Louis could see the young man's brain, whitish-grey and pulsing through a shattered section of skull . . .") that I suspect they have for adult readers the same shock factor that the pet cemetery must have for the child characters. And deliberately so, of course: King clearly knew what he was doing when he wrote that death scene. But this death is not just any death, inasmuch as Pascow's dying words are about the pet cemetery . . . and are addressed directly to Louis.

Now, I still think that the pet cemetery is "innocent," in the sense that it does not maliciously pick out victims the way some other settings or objects in Horror sometimes do. At this early point, I'm willing to buy the theory that Louis has been even more affected by the visit than Ellie was (and then further affected by Ellie's reaction), to the point that he hallucinated Pascow's final message. It fits my earlier theory that Louis never survived his own rite of passage with the reality of death. This is, moreover, how he himself rationalises it, although he doesn't go as far as I do.

But you know what else fits? The idea that this could finally be the rite!!! (Bwahahahahahahahahaha!)

Let's piece all of Pascow's messages together now . . .

At the clinic, while he is dying:

"In the Pet Sematary . . ."

"It's not the real cemetery."

"The soil of a man's heart is stonier, Louis . . . A man grows what he can, tends it . . ."

"Injun bring my fish . . . Keep clear, us . . ."

In Louis's dream:

"The door must not be opened . . . Don't go beyond, not matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless."

"Your destruction and the destruction of all you love is very near, Doctor . . ."

We all have to come to terms with death sooner or later, but not all of us also get a "spirit guide" like Pascow. Which brings me to the one hole in this second theory: the reason why Louis should be so special.

Or even why he should be so dangerous.

I have a feeling that it is a hole that will be perfectly and plausibly closed up by information available in the next nine chapters . . . (Bwahahahahahaha again!)

What are your thoughts on Chapters 10 to 18?

At this point, what is your theory? Why would you say Pascow has been trying to communicate with Louis?

Image Source: Pet Sematary by Stephen King


Angie Tusa said...

Unfortunately I can't really comment on this one since I know exactly what's going on here already. :) Even the first time I read the book I knew, because this is one of the rare ones where I actually saw the movie first.

However I think it's fun that last time you used the cover of the current version of the book I have, and today's is the one I had when I originally read it. It'll be fun to see the other versions out there.

Enbrethiliel said...


I've just read a little further, so I know EXACTLY what you mean!!! I'm still not sure of the whole story, but there's no way I can stick to my theory that Louis is just hallucinating. =P

But the Rite of Passage theme in general seems to be holding up. We'll see where this goes! =)