’s Lot Essay, Research Paper
Salem?s Lot is the story of a man who returns to his home town to face the fears of his childhood, only to find a entire new set of fears awaiting him. Ben?s hometown now has a new occupant, Barlow, an evil as old as time. As one by one the inhabits of Salem?s Lot disappear only to turn up later in the night, as something worse than dead.
Ben Mears is a successful novelist who returns to Jerusalem?s Lot his hometown. As a child Ben had went through a terrifying experience in the local ?haunted house?. He believed that by renting the old Marsten house he could face his fears, and be able to write away old ghosts.
The first person he meets when he returns is Susan Norton, a fan of his writing, with whom he is immediately attracted to. He tells her about his childhood experience, how on a dare from a group of friends he was supposed to go into the Marsten house and bring something out. But all that the nine-year-old had seen was the hanging body of the former owner Hubie Marsten, and how the dead body had opened its eyes. And though now he knows that he really didn?t see the body, he feels that the Marsten house is a ?storage place? for the evil things that had happened there.
Susan tells Ben that the house, unoccupied for many years has already been rented to a new comer in town, a Mr. Barlow, a man that no one has ever seen, but intends to open an antique store in town. His partner, Mr. Straker, has made all the arrangements.
The book then describes how the inhabitants of Salem?s Lot discover what Mr. Barlow truly is. Young children disappear, and adults as well as children begin to suffer from a mysterious illness, extreme sensitive to the sun, anemia, and eventually death. But as twelve year old Mark Petrie, a supernatural lover, discovers when one of his recently deceased young friends scratch outside his second story bedroom window begging to be let in, that there is no mysterious illness but they are the undead. He does not tell anyone in fear they will not believe him or think him crazy.
As number of undead increases other people in Salem?s Lot begin to slowly come to the same conclusion. Ben?s old English teacher, Matt Burke discovers the truth when he takes a past student into his home that is suffering from the ?illness?, and that night the student tries to attack him as a vampire. Matt escapes the attack and enlists the disbelieving help of Ben. But Ben soon becomes a believer when he and Matt watch over the now seemingly dead body of his student that returns from the dead at night. Matt suffers a heart attack. While Matt is recovering in the hospital Ben tells Susan of what he?s learned, but Susan has a hard time believing Ben?s story.
Meanwhile, Ben has convinced the local doctor to watch over one the recently deceased bodies. When the corpse awakens and attacks them the doctor becomes one of the group of believers.
In an effort to disprove Ben?s theory Susan decides on her own to go to the Marsten house and to show Ben there is no such thing as vampires. On her way there she runs into Mark Petrie, who has decided to take matters into his own hands and go to the house and kill the vampire. The two break into the house and are surprised when Barlow?s servant, Mr. Straker, catches them and locks them in separate rooms telling them that his master will be happy to see them later. Mark manages to escape, killing Straker, but Susan becomes Barlow?s next victim. The horrible task of killing Susan falls to Ben. Mark joins Ben, Matt, and the doctor in their quest to find Barlow and kill him.
Soon almost the whole town including Mark?s parents are vampires. The doctor is killed and the group tries to convince the town?s priest what is going on. He doesn?t believe them, and his faith isn?t strong enough to save him. In a bizarre twist Barlow doesn?t bite the priest, but forces the priest to drink the vampire?s own blood, making the priest a creature of the unclean.
The group discovers that the majority of vampires are using an old boarding house for their lair during the day. They go to the boarding house and in an intense and scary battle they kill Barlow and set fire to the house which spreads to the town, leaving no place for the other vampires to hide during the deadly daylight hours. In the final battle Matt is killed leaving only Ben and Mark.
Ben and Mark run to Mexico where they find safety in a monastery. After resting and healing they decide to return to Salem?s Lot and find any surviving vampires, and kill them.
Ben is the main character in the book. He represents good. It falls to him to kill the evil that lives in Salem?s Lot. His commitment to good is shown when he has to kill the woman he loves. In the book Matt is compared to Van Helsing, a vampire killer in Dracula, he is the leader and the teacher of the group, eventually losing his life in the struggle to kill the evil. Mark is twelve years old, but acts much more mature. He endures the loss of his parents and all his friends. One of the most interesting characters is Barlow. Unlike the white faced, black cape wearing vampires of most horror fiction, Barlow is described as an english gentleman, handsome, and well mannered. But this all covers the worst imaginable evil ever.
An important quote in the book is where the priest, Father Callahan comes face to face with the vampire Barlow. Callahan picks up a cross that begins to glow. Barlow challenges the priest to throw down the cross and fight him faith to faith, good against evil. The priest is afraid to throw down the cross, the cross loses its glow, and the vampire forces the priest to drink his blood and then says.
?The cross?the bread and wine?the confessional?only symbols. Without faith the cross is only wood, the bread baked wheat, the wine sour grapes. If you had cast the cross away, you should have beaten me another night. In a way, I had hoped it might be so. It has been long since I had met a opponent of any real worth. The boy makes ten of you, false priest.?