The Stand by Stephen King: religious morals in a devastated society

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Title: The Stand
Author:Stephen King
Year published: 1978
Genre: Post-apocalyptic (near), horror/fantasy.
Threat: Deadly virus.
Two words: Biblical struggle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also one of the most successful TV movies adapted from a Stephen King novel, and a graphic novel, The Stand is an epic tale from a highly accomplished horror author. It’s set aside from the usual wasteland survivor scenario by its religious undertone, as the deadly apocalypse leads to the rise of an altogether different destructive force, and sets the stage for a battle between good and evil.

What’s Stephen King’s The Stand about

Opening with the pattern, all too familiar now, of a weaponised virus being accidentally released by the military, King’s narrative follows numerous viewpoints as a pandemic spreads and society collapses. After the near-extinction of mankind, different groups of survivors are drawn along cross-country quests to the mysterious Mother Abigail, and start to rebuild a democratic society, Free Zone. Meanwhile, however, the wicked Randall Flagg establishes a tyrannical rule in Las Vegas, where they’re gathering arms and generally being brutal to one another.

When the two communities learn of one another, a violent conflict is inevitable. But the better-natured crowd in the Free Zone, seek a more peaceful solution.

Why’s The Stand so special

Stephen King is an eminently readable author, so you can almost guarantee a tale of his will be at once original and entertaining. In this case, though it ticks the usual post-apocalypse boxes in terms of its basic overall plot summary, he adds a hefty dose of the supernatural, with Randall Flagg’s sinister powers, giving it a sense of something grander than a simple survival tale. It raises strong questions of morality, woven into an adventurous odyssey plot.

Though King was inspired to write this by Earth Abides, the contrast between the two books can give you immediate evidence of why Stephen King is so popular: he really knows how to make a dreary, weighty theme enjoyable.

 

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