The Stand Chapter 8 and Chapter 9

Chapter 8 describes the spread of Campion’s Disease Captain Tripp’s. It is a fairly short chapter, so we will be doing 2 chapter this post.

Chapter 8 starts out by showing how Joe Bob helped pass along the virus.  Joe Bob, if you recall, was the police man who was some relation to Vic Palfrey. He came to Hap’s Texaco to warn the men about the CDC’s interest in them.

I have very little sympathy for him. Look, I get wanting to warn your buddies, but did you have to go down in person for that? If you knew the CDC was interested, wouldn’t a phone call have been a better idea?

On June 18, 5 hours after he had talked to his cousin Bill Hapscomb, Joe Bob Brentwood pulled over a speeder by the name of Harry Trent.

After getting the speeding ticket, Trent tries to sell Joe Bob life insurance, but Joe Bob feels fine, so he declines the offer.

Dying was the last thing on his mind. Nevertheless, he was already a sick man. He had gotten more than gas at Bill Hapscomb’s Texaco. And he gave Harry Trent more than a speeding summons.

We are then told that Trent gave the sickness to a lot of people at work, and how many they then went on to infect is impossible to tell.

You might as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I’ve never understood this. Do people in other religions think angels dance on pins? Because Adventists think Angels have better things to do with their lives.

King then goes on to use math, and my eyes glaze over.

A lot of people got infected by just one person, ok? That’s his point.

On June 19, Trent went out for a burger, but he was so sick he couldn’t eat much.

He left the sweet thang that waited on his table a dollar tip that was crawling with death.

I like this line.

A family with kids pulls up and asks Trent for directions.

Harry gave the New York fellow very clear directions on how to get to Highway 21. He also served him and his entire family their death warrants without even knowing it.

This chapter is full of really great one liners, though in the edited edition it just says, “the whole family would be dead by July 2.” Which, looking at a calendar, is about 3 weeks, give or take. And so I like the way this reads in the unedited edition better. “He served them their death warrants” just sounds a lot more ominous.

How fast does this virus kill, again? The people in the lab died in under 12 minutes. But its taken Harry Trent at least a day to even show symptoms, and it takes the Norris family roughly 3 weeks to all die.

You could argue that the virus would have evolved to survive longer, and that would make sense. But other times, the disease still seems to kill people quite quickly, sooooo?

We should play a drinking game: drink when the rate at which the disease kills people is flexible at the plot’s convenience.

We then get a description of some of the people the Norris family infects. And it takes them a while to show symptoms.

I give up on trying to make sense of this.

In any case, we now switch to the perspective of the New Yorker, Edward Norris, who happens to be a police detective. He and his family have just come back from what we are told is their first real vacation in 5 years. How fortunate for him that he took this vacation, and that it was such a good time. In fact, Norris had such a good time that he plans on bragging about it to Steve when he gets back. The whole “bragging about it to Steve” thing gets cut from the edited edition, and I’m torn on how I feel about it. It’s not really a big deal in the scheme of things. I can see why it was cut, but I’m not sorry it got put back in, either.

The first Norris to show symptoms of the illness is the baby, Hector. That makes sense. Babies and the elderly would be particularly vulnerable to…well, anything, really.

During their wait in [the Doctor’s] office they communicated the sickness which would soon be known across the disintegrating country as Captain Trips to more than 25 people.

Why? Why Captain Trip’s? Why haven’t they started calling it “Campion’s Disease,” or just “Campion?” As far as they know, Campion was patient zero. And don’t these things usually get named after the first patient who had them? Or the first doctor who diagnosed them? Actually, nothing has been announced officially, so this “Captain Trip’s” is only a nickname. Who picks a nickname with 3 syllables? Yea “Campion’s disease” isn’t much shorter, but it still makes more sense than “Captain Trip’s.” Who is Captain Trip? Exactly.

I can’t remember if we get told this in this novel or if I am remembering it from the Dark Tower series, but in some parts of the country the virus is called “Tube Neck,” because of how swollen the neck gets. Even that makes more sense than “Captain Trip’s.”

In any case, when Ed and Trish take Hector to the doctor, they infect everyone, including a woman who is just there to pay her bill. In the edited edition, the chapter ends with the woman passing the disease along to her bridge club and everyone in the bar afterward. In this edition, we get a bit more detail.

In fact, a lot of the detail in this chapter has been cut. And I can see why–it’s not really important in the overall scheme of things–but it would be nice if this could have been left in the original version.

Chapter 9

This chapter introduces us to one of the other main characters, Nick Andros.

We are first introduced to Nick as he’s getting beaten up by some guys from the bar.

We are not told, right away, that Nick is a deaf mute. We are given some clues: Nick fights without making a sound, he doesn’t even scream as they are beating him up, which causes the bullies to feel unnerved. It doesn’t make sense to me, either. Even a deaf mute can usually make sound. A lot of sound, actually, since they feel no need whatsoever to regulate their volume.

A car comes by, causing the thugs to scatter, while Nick almost gets run over.

He comes to in a jail cell, for reasons I don’t understand. Wouldn’t you put a person who had been badly beaten up and found unconscious in a hospital? Maybe this is one of those realistic details that make no sense to me because I think it’s ridiculous.

In any case, even though he’s in jail, he has been given stitches on his most severe wounds.

Just then, the sherriff walks in, telling him he looks terrible, and asks for his name.

We’ve gotten enough clues so far to be able to piece it together on our own, but this is where we find out for sure that Nick is a deaf-mute.

Nick put a finger to his swelled and lacerated lips and shook his head. He put a hand over his mouth, then cut the air with it in a soft diagonal hashmark and shook his head.

The sherriff isn’t sure about all this, but he gives Nick a pencil and a pad of paper. Nick writes down what happened. When the sheriff asks him if he’s old enough to drink, Nick replies that he is 22, and that he should be able to get some beers without getting beaten and robbed.

Baker reflected that teaching a deaf-mute kid to read and write was probably quite a trick, and this Nick Andros must have some pretty good equipment upstairs to have caught the hang of it.

We get little hints throughout the book like this that Nick is really really smart. I have no issue with Nick being smart. Though I’m not sure how realistic it is for him to be able to lip read like that. It takes years of training to learn how to lip read, and as we will see, Nick Andros is a bit lacking in the formal training department.

Even if one is really super smart, lip reading is still difficult because a lot of sounds and words look the same. Even someone who is good at lip reading is still going to struggle. I have been reading that, in order to lip read successfully, it’s necessary to have at least some level of hearing, even if it is very minor. Without any hearing at all, even a very smart person would have trouble understanding much of what anyone was saying.

I can kinda see why King wouldn’t want to get bogged down by that detail in the story. From a literary stand point it’s much easier if the other characters don’t have to use sign language or write things down.

Is that an excuse for not portraying Nick’s disability more realistically? Someone else will have to comment. I’m not sure I know the answer to that.

In any case, Nick tells Sheriff Baker that he’s been traveling, and that he did some work for a man in town named Rich, but that the men who beat him up got all the money he earned.

Baker tells Nick he can check on that, and asks Nick if he’s sure of the details. He calls up Rich, and upon finding that Nick’s story is true, he lets Nick out of jail.

So, Nick was only in jail in the first place because everyone thought he was jobless? Do police just lock up all the  jobless people and put them in jail? What a fucked up world we live in, if that’s the case.

Baker asks Nick more about the people who robbed him. When Nick gives the description, Baker swears.

“That’s my brother in law, Ray Booth…thanks, kid. Five in the morning and my day’s wrecked already… He’s  a bad actor, Janey knows it. He beat her up enough times when they was kids together. Still, they’re brother ‘n sister and I guess I can forget my lovin for this week.”

I like the sheriff. He’s a bit gruff, and you can tell he doesn’t want to upset his wife. But, even though he makes a lot of noise about not liking it, it’s clear he’s going to do the right thing.

Not a lot of small town sheriffs are like that.

Baker tells Nick that going after the men probably won’t do any good, because it’s his word against theirs, but that if Nick wants to press charges, Baker will try.

As the sheriff goes to get Nick some medicine the doctor left for him, he starts sneezing violently into his handkerchief.

This good man is already dead.

As he passed the pills and a glass of water to Nick, Baker rubbed gently under the angle of his jaw. There was a definite painful swelling there. Swollen glands, coughing, sneezing, a low fever, felt like. Yeah, it was shaping up to be a wonderful day.

 

Advertisements

The Stand Chapter 7

I am excited about this chapter. In the original edited edition, a large portion of it simply isn’t there. I wish it had been included, because the parts of the book showing the spread of the disease are my favorite part. That right there is another reason I like this chapter. We finally get at least a little more information about the disease.

Chapter 7 opens on Vic Palfrey waking up briefly from the delirium. He’s not really awake enough to be completely lucid, just awake enough to realize that he is dying. It’s horrifying, and we are right there horrified along with him.

Vic looks around, and discovers that not only has his bed been cranked up as high as it can go (to keep his lungs from drowning), he’s restrained with brass laundry pins. You’d think a hospital would have better restraint methods than this, especially with a delirious patient in a highly secured infectious diseases ward. You don’t exactly want to give the diseased and delirious person a sharp object with which he could penetrate your hazmat suit.

He knew he had been delirious, and would be again. He was sick and this was not a cure or the beginning of one, but only a brief respite.

How he knows this is anyone’s guess. Maybe he’s heard the doctors talking or something. It doesn’t really matter. Vic feels around, and discovers he’s hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires. He tries to shout, but it comes out as more of a whisper.

As Vic thinks about his surroundings, he starts slipping back into delirium. It’s very well done, but it’s too long to quote.

The idea that he might die babbling inanities like a senile old man terrified him.

I like this line.

He was looking at the door, and thinking it was a damn funny door even for a hospital. It was round at the corners, outlined with pop-rivets, and the lower jamb was 6 inches or more up from the tile floor. Even a jackleg carpenter like Vic Palfrey could

(gimme the funnies Vic you had em long enough)

(Mamma he took my funnypages! Give em back!)

build better than that. It was (steel).

Part of the reason I highlighted this is to show exactly how King shows Palfrey slipping in and out of sanity. I do wonder why the door seems so shoddily designed. If this center is specifically for people who are sick, wouldn’t they have already had a room with a ready made steel door?

As the sun sets, Vic catches site of the doctors watching him from behind glass.

Then Vic remembers where he is: Atlanta, Georgia. He thinks about all the other people who were taken with him and wonders if they could all be sick with what Campion had.

….to get beyond the Arnette town limits they had had to pass a roadblock on US93, and men had been stringing bobwire…stringing bobwire right out into the desert….

(elipses are original to text)

A Man in a suit comes by and asks how Vic is feeling. But this was Vic’s last moment of lucidity. He’s already gone. The suited man turns to his colleague and says, “if this one doesn’t work, we’ll lose him by midnight.”

Later it is revealed that they are trying out different cures on the Arnette residents.

I wish they hadn’t cut this part out. But I can see why King did. It doesn’t advance character for a person we’re ever going to see again, and in general it has nothing to do with the rest of the novel. Even though *I* would like to see more about the spread of this disease, the disease itself is just a plot device used by King to kill off most of the world’s population so that the rest of the novel can take place.

There’s a section break, and we cut to Stu’s perspective. In the edited edition, this is where chapter 7 begins.

The chapter, er, section, opens with one of the nurses trying to take Stu’s blood pressure. He refuses, saying that he won’t cooperate until someone tells him what’s what around here. Good for him.

He had no objection to the tests themselves. What he objected to was being kept in the dark, kept scared. He wasn’t sick, at least not yet, but scared plenty….he wasn’t going to be a party to it anymore until somebody told him something about what had happened in Arnette and what that fellow Campion had to do with it. At least then he could base his fears on something solid.

I… think it’s pretty obvious that Campion had everything to do with it, and to his credit, Stu’s pretty much figured that out on his own.

They had come and got him on the afternoon of the 17th, 2 days ago. 4 army men and a doctor. Polite, but firm. There was no question of declining; all 4 of the army men had been wearing sidearms. That was when Stu Redman started being seriously scared.

Stu describes the ride to the hospital, which involves a car trip to the nearest airport and then they fly to Georgia. But hey, at least the army gives them good booze, probably to calm them down. One of the people, Lila Bruette, is crying hysterically. Can’t say I’d blame her, I’d probably be crying hysterically too.

One of the soldiers transporting the Arnette townsfolk suddenly started sneezing.

Wait a second…the higher ups in the army knew how contagious and deadly this disease was, and they didn’t tell their people to take precautions when they went to fetch the Arnettens? Do they want their soldiers to die, or are they just that goddamn incompetent?

Also, those poor townspeople. If they weren’t infected before, they definitely are after that plane ride. You just killed a bunch of people, thanks army. Granted they probably would have gotten the disease anyway, but still.

Hap makes the observation that the people transporting them are,

“A pretty funny bunch of ole boys…Ain’t one of ’em under 50, nor one with a weddin ring. Career boys, low rank.”

I’m not sure what the significance of that is. Does the army not care if the low rank people die from being exposed to these dangerously sick people? Knowing this, did they purposely pick older soldiers who weren’t married, under the mistaken assumption that unmarried soldiers have no family or anyone at home to care about? Because that does seem to be the assumption, at least from Stu’s perspective. No wives, no close relatives, etc.

This wasn’t incompetence, then. If the military purposely picked out a group of people they thought had nothing to lose, they had to have planned for their soldiers to come down with the Superflu.

Is that realistic? Because if it is, that’s horrifying.

Back in the present, Dr. Denninger comes in and asks Stu why he wouldn’t let the nurse, Patty, take his temperature. Stu tries not to let his fear show, but he tells the man he wants some answers, and then he’ll cooperate. Otherwise he’ll fight everyone every step of the way. Stu guesses, correctly, that the doctors are afraid of him, so he threatens to puncture one of their suits if they don’t give him some answers.

Denninger refuses to tell him anything.

“Your lack of cooperation may do your country a grave disservice. Do you understand me?”

Aaaaand you just lost the argument. This may have worked back in like, the 1940s when everyone was all patriotic and shit. Back then, they probably did tend to do things to help their country, no questions asked. But by the time this book was written, that was not the case. People were no longer content with blind patriotism. I’m certainly not.

And so when Stu responds that it is his country that is doing him the disservice, I nod along in agreement.

“Right now my country…has got me locked up in a hospital room…with a buttermouth little pissant doctor who doesn’t know shit from Shinola.”

Here’s how this reads in the edited version:

Right now my country…has got me locked up in a hospital room…with with a buttermouth little pissant doctor who doesn’t know enough to shit or go blind.

Speculation on why this got changed? Thoughts?

Deninger leaves, and Stu sits down to wait calmly. He tries not to let the fear and panic get ahold of him.

But it was 40 hours before they sent him a man who would talk.

Spoiler alert: And even when he does show up, he still doesn’t tell Stu much.

 

 

 

The Shack Chapter 9

TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF SEXUAL ABUSE, DISCUSSION OF CHILD ABUSE, DISCUSSION OF SPOUSAL MURDER.

 

Chapter 9

A Long Time Ago, In a Garden Far, Far Away

I’m not sure why the Star Wars reference. Is this garden actually in the past? Does that mean Mack has time traveled to before the shack was, well, a shack?

In any case, Mack follows Sarayu to the garden, which is very large and also contains an orchard. Sarayu picks an herb and tells Mack to chew the leaves. They’ll stop him from getting diarrhea from the greens he overindulged in at breakfast this morning, apparently.

Thank God, because I really don’t want to have to read about Mack’s GI issues.

Sarayu picks a bouquet of flowers and herbs, then directs Mack to begin digging up a space so she can plant some things there tomorrow. Why God The Holy Spirit doesn’t just use her god powers to work the garden is not something that will ever be explained.

Mack asks Sarayu if she and her Godhead partners created everything. He’s specifically referring to mosquitoes and poisonous plants. Anyone who’s ever read anything about creation science already knows the answer to this question. But I don’t think this book is meant to be preaching to the choir, so we get it spelled out for us.

“We created everything that actually exists, including what you consider the bad stuff…but when I created it, it was only good, because that is just the way I am.”

How are mosquitoes possibly good? Surely something less bothersome could take their place in the ecosystem if it was being designed by anything halfway intelligent.

When Mack voices this, Sarayu shakes her head and tells him that humans aren’t just taking themselves to hell in handbaskets, they’re taking the rest of creation with them.

Indeed, creation scientists also talk about how different things supposedly were before the flood. Poisonous snakes, they argue, weren’t actually poisonous when God created them. But they became that way after the flood. After the flood there was a different amount of air pressure, the world was a lot cooler, and in general a much different place.

Also, sin has corrupted even the plants and animals.

Surprisingly, Sarayu doesn’t say any of that. She points to a poisonous plant and tells Mack that “bad plants” aren’t all bad. This plant, for example, would normally be harmful for Mack to even touch. However, it has some good healing properties.

Are there actual plants that can poison you just by touching a small part of them? Certainly if you had any open cuts on your hand, but I’m unaware of anything that powerful. Usually you’d have to at least ingest it in some form in order for negative affects to occur.

And here’s a thought, why not just make plants that can heal you without the harmful poisonous component?

Sarayu tells Mack that humans often declare a thing “good” or “bad” without understanding the thing. And I can track with that, that’s very true.

Then Sarayu tells Mack that she is referring to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and she loses me completely. Instead of asking her to elucidate, Mack asks incredulously if the garden of Eden was real.

Nope, you just stretched the bounds of credibility too far. Mack hasn’t exactly been worshiping God, but he hasn’t been shown to be an atheist, or even a liberal Christian before. He’s been shown as just a lapsed Christian who still believes Genesis should be taken literally, but he can’t bring himself to care.

In any case, Mack says that a lot of people think that Eve eating the fruit from the tree was a myth. It is, and I’m told it’s not a very original one at that. I packed all the relevant books, so I won’t get into it now, but a lot of the Genesis stories were borrowed from other religions.

“Let me ask you a question. When something happens to you, how do you determine whether it is good or evil?”

By whether or not it could cause me some form of harm, that’s how. Duh. But the question stuns Mack into silence. He finally gives the exact answer I just gave, but then Sarayu tells him that that makes it all rather subjective.

Well, yeah. What’s good for me is not necessarily going to be good for person X, and vice versa. Sometimes the right thing to do in a given situation is subjective.

Sarayu interrupted. “Then it is you who determines good and evil. You become the judge. And to make things more confusing, that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstance.”

Yes. And I’m grateful for that. Just a few short years ago, being gay was considered evil. I know it still is by a lot of people, but it’s much more accepted now. I’m glad that humans have the ability to grow and change as we learn to do better. (well. Some of us, at any rate.)

I think we’re supposed to read this as horrifying. That there has to be such a thing as absolute morality, otherwise the planet will descend into absolute chaos.

Actually, even though right and wrong varies across time and cultures, there are a few constants. But set that aside for now.

When Mack says that he can see the problem Sarayu snaps that there certainly is a problem.

“Indeed! The choice to eat from the tree tore the universe apart, divorcing the spiritual from the physical.”

Mack didn’t eat the fruit from the tree, why are you snapping at him?

Mack responds, kind of stoically, that he sees now that he spends too much time trying to acquire things he considers good while fearing that which he considers bad.

Um, yeah, and? I bet he also breathes oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. This guy is, after all, supposedly human. And I see nothing wrong with any of those things.

“You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil on your own terms.”

This is a huge red flag. If anybody says this to you, please do yourself a favor and run.

Sarayu goes on for a bit about how good she is, and then Mack says that giving up his right to independence isn’t going to be easy, because

Sarayu interrupted his sentence again. “That in one instance, the good may be the presence of cancer or the loss of income–or even a life.”

An editor. An editor looked at this and nodded his head and kept reading.

I don’t like Sarayu. She interrupts a lot. Also, what she is saying is kind of a little horrifying.

Mack points out that the people with cancer and dead daughters might be a little pissed off at what Sarayu is saying. *I* am a little pissed off at what Sarayu is saying, and I don’t have cancer. Or a dead daughter.

Sarayu says that she keeps those people in mind, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of that.

Then we get this.

“But–” Mack could feel his control getting away as he drove his shovel in hard– “didn’t Missy have a right to be protected?”

“No, Mack. A child is protected because she is loved, not because she has a right to be protected.”

I keep typing out a response to this and then deleting it. How do you respond to something like this?

First of all, this is sadly a common sentiment among fundy Christians. They are opposed to child protection laws for reasons I don’t fully understand. They don’t seem to care about protecting children, and it’s horrifying to think that the reason is because they really don’t think children should have the right to be protected.

Imagine you are a child in an abusive home with Christian parents. You pick up a copy of this book, and then you read that you don’t have the right to be protected from what is happening to you. Imagine how horrible you feel at that moment.

Sometimes I hope there is a hell just so these people can be sent there.

Set all that aside for 10 seconds. So, does that mean that God let Missy die because he didn’t love her enough to protect her?

Anyone who doesn’t believe children have a right to be protected from being brutally murdered and possibly raped is a motherfucking asshole who doesn’t deserve to live.

Mack gropes wildly for some kind of right he can hold on to.

“But what about–”

“Rights are where survivors go, so that they won’t have to work out relationships,” [Sarayu] cut in.

At the end note in the back of this book, the author recommends distributing these books to shelters for battered women.

In light of this chapter, in light of this statement, let that sink in for a bit.

And no, I’m sorry, but a survivor of abuse should feel in no way obligated to work out a relationship with her or his abuser. The abuser has waived that right the minute he started the abuse. This is why people die. In fact, there has recently been a death in my family for this very reason. Abused women are told they are told they must go back and forgive their abuser rather than take their right to live free and unabused. Many of them pay for this mistake with their lives.

 

Mack was getting frustrated. He spoke louder. “But don’t I have the right to–”

“To complete a sentence without being interrupted? No, you don’t. Not in reality.  but as long as you think you do, you will surely get ticked off when someone cuts you off, even if it is God.”

Wow, Sarayu is a dick.

Also, one would think that God would have better manners than to go around interrupting his subjects. How does he like it when he’s interrupted?

Sarayu then goes on for another paragraph about Jesus and how he gave up his rights to “allow you to live free enough to give up your rights.”

I’ll be honest, this chapter wasn’t hard for me to write because I was busy with school. This chapter was hard to write because of the subject matter. This chapter was hard to read when I was a Christian, and it is hard to read now. As a Christian and as an Atheist, I weep for the women in battered womens’ shelters who read this. I weep for the abused child who reads this and her heart sinks as she starts to really believe that she doesn’t deserve to be protected from the abuse.

And I weep because this book got really popular, which means that there are a lot of people out there who agree that children don’t deserve to be protected from abuse.

You know what? Maybe the Trisolarans should come wipe us all out.