Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


The Stand by Stephen King

When a plague strikes, the few people left begin having dreams about two different people that are each other's nemesis. They can choose to be a part of an old woman's fellowship, or to join the dark side, a totalitarianism. In the beginning the chapters alternate between different characters such as the pregnant Frannie, the musician Larry, the deaf-mute Nick, the slightly introverted Harold, the imprisoned Stu, the intellectually challenged Tom, the intellectual Glen, the mysterious Nadine, the criminal Lloyd, and last but not least, the dog Kojak. They are flawed and absolutely no saints before the plague – a brilliant concept. Thus, they are no given leaders. But, all of a sudden, they get a second chance to take responsibility, and save themselves from destruction. Some of them does, despite moments of hesitation. Others don't. There's no foreseeing who will be sympathetic and not, who will take the opportunity to face their past and who will exploit the change to power. They all get a second chance. Stephen King is cleverly describing the core of a person's true identity. When the filter of materialism and comfort are gone, as well as the lack of structure, rules and laws, it's easier to unfold people's inner nature. Suddenly, their true identity emerges. The existence of, or lack there of, sympathy and empathy become very clear.

The story about a group of people's current construction of a new society gives birth to some interesting questions. The question of democracy. Is it the opinion of the majority of the people or the decision that is best for them? The question about whether people are born with morals or something that they possibly incorporate later on. The question about good and evil, and whether people are really aware of the difference - is there a difference? Can we choose who we are, or are we incorrigible? What's fascinating about the evil Flagg is that he is powerless without people's fear and lynch behavior. He feeds on it. Evil can take many shapes, but is only as powerful as people's minds permit.

It's interesting to consider the normal society we're used to from a stranger's perspective. After living a free life for a while, how would we perceive the traditional structure and rules of society? The characters speculate about what kind of society they want to build and if they are going to change something from the old one. What if there are other ways to run a society? Without materialism there wouldn't be the same kind of differences between people. The struggle between the traditional laws and individual freedom becomes distinct during the new organisation of society structure, and the potential danger of organisation and power is reflected upon. This makes the reader speculate about how close we really are to become our own destruction.

The unabridged version of 1200-pages offer a profound description of the main characters, something that feels tedious at times, but might be healthy for the reader to be able comprehend the amplitude of the story. The book contains different themes such as speculative realism, science fiction, fantasy and religious symbolism. Perhaps the story would have benefited from simply one of them - speculative realism. The reader might choose which perspective to view it from, but it's not really necessary to throw in fantasy and supernatural elements. The reader might even have difficulties to interpret certain parts. What really caused the catastrophy that threw the world into a dystopian setting? Mankind or God?

The book, more than anything else, leaves the reader with one question. Are we able to learn from our mistakes? Stephen King seems to have faith in us, but we are easily tempted. This is one of his most famous works, perhaps because it's subtle and layered and contains many different sub themes, where people's inner nature and the contrast between the right choice and the easy choice are very distinguished.

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