Friday, May 24, 2019
Stephen King, Christine – Text Analysis
Stephen queen regnant is perhaps the just ab come in widely known American writer of his generation, yet his distinctions include publishing as twain authors at once Beginning in 1966, he wrote novels that were published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. When twelve, he began submitting stories for sale. At first ignored and then scorned by mainstream critics, by the late 1980s his novels were reviewed regularly in The New York Times Book Review, with increasing favor.Beginning in 1987, most of his novels were main selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, which in 1989 created the Stephen King Library, committed to keeping Kings novels in print in hardcover. King published more than one hundred short stories (including the collections Night Shift, 1978, frame of reference Crew, 1985, and Nightmares and Dreamscapes, 1993) and the eight novellas contained in Different Seasons (1982) and Four Past Midnight (1990). King has published numerous articles and a critical sustain, D anse macabre (1981).Kings detractors attribute his succeeder to the sensational appeal of his genre, whose main purpose, as King readily confesses, is to scare people. Like Edgar Allan Poe, King turned a degenerated genre a matter of comic-book monsters and drive in exactsinto a medium embodying the primary anxieties of his age. He is graphic, sen clippingntal, and predictable. His humor is usually crude and campy. His gentle fantasies, like all good popular fiction, allow readers to express deep down conventional frames of reference feelings and concepts they might not some otherwise consider. is vision articulates universal fears and desires in terms peculiar to contemporary culture. King is Master of Postliterate Prose, as capital of Minnesota Gray stated in 1982writing that takes readers mentally to the films rather than making them imagine or think. On the other hand, Kings work provides the most genuine example of the reputationtellers art since Charles Dickens. He h as returned to the novel some of the popular appeal it had in the nineteenth century and turned out a generation of readers who vastly prefer some books to their film adaptations.He encountered two lasting influences, the naturalist writers and contemporary American mythology. Stephen King may be known as a horror writer, but he calls himself a brand name, describing his style as the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and a large fries from McDonalds. His fast-food version of the plain style may smell of commercialism, but that may make him the contemporary American storyteller without peer. From the beginning, his dark parables spoke to the anxieties of the late twentieth century.Kings fictions begin with premises accepted by middle Americans of the television generation, opening in suburban or small-town AmericaDerry, Maine, or Libertyville, Pennsylvaniaand have the familiarity of the house next door and the 7-Eleven store. The characters have the trusted two-dimensional substanti ality of kitsch they originate in cliches such as the high school nerd or the wise fry. From such premises, they move cinematically through an atmosphere resonant with a popular mythology.King applies naturalistic methods to an environs created by popular culture. This reality, already mediated, is translated easily into preternatural terms, taking on a nightmarish quality. Kings imagination is above all first His pop familiarity and his campy humor draw on the collective unconscious. As with his fiction, his sources are the classic horror films of the 1930s, inherited by the 1950s pulp and film industries. He hints at their derivations from the gothic novel, classical myth, Brothers Grimm folktales, and the oral tradition in general.In an anxious era both skeptical of and hungry for myth, horror is basically reassuring and cathartic the tale-teller combines roles of physician and priest into the witch doctor as sin eater, who assumes the guilt and fear of his culture. Christine In Christine, the setting is Libertyville, Pennsylvania, during the late 1970s. The monster is the American Dream as embodied in the automobile. King imparts Christine all the attributes of a fairy tale for postliterate adolescents.Christine is another fractured Cinderella story, Carrie for boys. Arnie Cunningham, a nearsighted, acne-scarred loser, falls in love with a car, a passionate (red and white) Plymouth Fury, one of the long ones with the big fins, that he names Christine. An automotive godmother, she brings Arnie, in fairy-tale succession, freedom, success, power, and love a home away from overprotective parents, a cure for acne, hit-andrun revenge on bullies, and a beautiful girl, Leigh Cabot.Soon, however, the familiar triangle emerges, of boy, girl, and car, and Christine is revealed as a femme fataledriven by the spirit of her former owner, a disaffected named Roland LeBay. Christine is the medium for his death wish on the world, for his all-devouring, everlasting F ury. LeBays aggression possesses Arnie, who reverts into an older, tougher self, then into the mythic teenaged hood that King has called the prototype of 1950s wolfman films, and finally into some ancient carrion eater, or primal self.As automotive monster, Christine comes from a variety of sources, including the folk tradition of the death car and a decrepit techno-horror premise, as seen in Kings Trucks and Maximum Overdrive. Kings main focus, however, is the mobile spring chicken culture that has come down from the 1950s by way of advertising, popular songs, film, and national pastimes. Christine is the car as a projection of the cultural self, Anima for the modern American Adam. To Arnies late 1970s-style imagination, the Plymouth Fury, in 1958 a mid-priced family car, is an American Dream.Her sweeping, befinned chassis and engine re-create a fantasy of the golden age of the automobile the horizonless future imagined as an expanding network of superhighways and unlimited fue l. Christine recovers for Arnie a prelapsarian elan vital and manifest destiny. Christines odometer runs backward and she regenerates parts. The immortality she offers, howeverand by implication, the American Dreamis really arrested development in the form of a Happy age rerun and by way of her radio, which sticks on the golden oldies station.Indeed, Christine is a recapitulatory rock musical framed fatalistically in sections titled Teenage Car-Songs, Teenage Love-Songs,and Teenage Death-Songs. Fragments of stone songs introduce each chapter. Christines burden, an undead 1950s youth culture, means that most of Arnies travels are in and out of time, a deadly nostalgia trip. As Douglas overwinter explains, Christine reenacts the death, during the 1970s, of the American romance with the automobile. The epilogue from four years later presents the fairy-tale consolation in a burnedout monotone.Arnie and his parents are buried, Christine is scrap metal, and the true Americans, Leigh and Dennis, are survivors, but Dennis, the ennoble of Darnells Garage, does not woo the lady fair he is a limping, lackluster junior high teacher, and they have drifted apart, grown old in their prime. Dennis narrates the story in order to file it away, all the while perceiving himself and his peers in terms of icons from the late 1950s. In his nightmares, Christine appears wearing a black vanity plate carve with a skull and the words, ROCK AND ROLL WILL NEVER DIE. From Denniss haunted perspective, Christine simultaneously examines and is a symptom of a cultural phenomenon a new American gothic species of anachronism or deja vu, which continued after Christines publication in films such as Back to the Future (1985), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), and somber Velvet (1986). The 1980s and the 1950s blur into a seamless illusion, the nightmare side of which is the prospect of living an infinite replay. The subtext of Kings adolescent fairy tale is another coming of age, from the oppo site end and the broader perspective of American culture.Written by a fortyish King in the final years of the twentieth century, Christine diagnoses a cultural mid flavor crisis and marks a turning point in Kings career, a critical examination of mass culture. The dual time frame reflects his awareness of a dual audience, of writing for adolescents who look back to a mythical 1950s and also for his own generation as it relives its undead youth culture in its children. The baby boomers, King explains, were obsessive about childhood. We went on playing for a long time, more or less feverishly.I write for that buried child in us, but Im writing for the grown-up too. I want grownups to look at the child long enough to be able to give him up. The child should be buried. sometimes ownership can become possession The story is set in a middle-class suburb of Pittsburg, in 1978. Dennis guilder and Arnie Cunningham vie for the attentions of the new girl in town, Leigh Cabot. But when Chris tine, a 1958 Plymouth Fury, enters the picture, the course of action changes drastically. As Leigh neatly observes, cars are girls.Arnies love affair with Christine turns from a love song to a death song. As soon as he sees her he wants her. Her name is Christine, she is 1958 Plymouth Fury, and Arnold Cunningham has fallen head over heels in love with her. Arnolds best friend Dennis Guilder is not quite so impressed by the rusting rolling iron with the custom paint job. Dennis looks at the break windscreen and the damaged bodywork, the flat tyre and torn upholstery, and his heart sinks even before he notices the pool of oil underneath the car. Arnie might as sound be looking at a different car though. He sees something else.Maybe a modest of what the car once was, and perhaps a little of what it could be if the work was put in. He is a man in love and first loves can often become all consuming things. on that point is nothing that Dennis can do to stop Arnie from buying Christin e and in the end he goes along with his life-long friend. He lends him some money towards a deposit on the car and even takes him to pick the car up, the next day, after work. Sometimes the company a person keeps can have an effect on them and almost from that very first meeting between Arnie and Christine Dennis can see changes in his best friend.Some of them good, like the fact that his acne seems to be miraculously clearing up. The other changes though, are not so positive in nature. Arnies whole attitude takes a turn for the worse and he develops an uncharacteristic mean streak. All of his life Arnie has been the guy who was targeted by the bullies of this world, but when Buddy Repperton takes a jack handle to one of Christines lights the worm not only turns, but turns on Repperton leaving him with a bloody nose and a score to settle.As I clocked up the chapters in Christine I watched Arnies human relationship with his parents and with his friend Dennis start to fall apart and his relationship with the beautiful Leigh Cabot form and then fail. It was all because of the car and from the very first chapter, as a reader, I was aware that there was something not quite unspoiled about that Plymouth Fury. Christine is just a little under 600 pages long. It is write in memoir form and is split into the three parts.Part one, Dennis Teenage Car Songs, is written in the first person and from Dennis point of View. In part two, Arnie Teenage Love songs, Dennis is still telling the story, but it is now written in the troika person because all of the events in that part of the book occurred while Dennis was lying in a hospital bed and does not concern things that he undergo first-hand. For part three, of the book, Christine Teenage Death Songs, the story returns to the first person perspective because Dennis is on his crutches and out and about, all be it at a bit of a hobble.A nice touch to Christine is that every chapter opens up with a few lines from a different song that involves cars, which is probably why the three parts of the book are named the way that they are. I enjoyed Christine. King brings all of the characters to life for his readers and it was easy for me to look at Arnies mother, for instance, through both Arnie and Dennis eyes and think what a thrill But it was just as easy for me to look through the mothers eyes and feel the pain and fear as she watched her family being torn apart. The characters seem real and the unreal situations feel real.