Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 10

Most of the additional chapters in the revised version of The Stand occur early in the novel, and Chapter 20 is one of them (and, yes, when a novel has 78 chapters, Chapter 20 is still early).  The chapter focuses on Fran Goldsmith figuring out what to do with her life now that she is pregnant.  It's essentially a characterization chapter, which is why it probably got cut from the earlier, shorter version of the novel.  Fran hangs about in a hotel, King makes an AC/DC joke, and Fran's mother gets the flu, as Captain Trips starts hitting Maine hard.

The next chapter featuring Stu Redman only has some minor revisions, but the following chapter is quite expanded.  One minor revision in it though is quite fun.  In Chapter 22, King updates the reference from Jimmy Carter to George Bush.  So, instead of a description of the President of the USA as the "Georgia Giant" and a "clod-hopper"; he gets called "The dirty alderman."  Despite their shared Maine background, it appears King might have liked Bush less than he did Carter.  Then again, he also deletes the line, "The night that man had been elected had been a night of horror for him, and for all thinking men", but since the thought is attached to Len Creighton, who is one of the men responsible for the flu, it's probably just a reflection of the fact that Carter was not perceived as militaristic as his predecessors Nixon and Ford were, and thus might have been viewed as a threat by men such as Creighton to the military's development of biological weapons, and perhaps to Creighton's livelihood of war in general.

The expansion of the chapter involves Billy Starkey's suicide in the Project Blue laboratory where the superflu escaped from.  Before he goes though, Starkey pulls Frank D. Bruce's head out of the bowl of soup he had died in, a fact that had bothered Starkey when he observed it over the surveillance cameras.  As Creighton, who had taken over the command post from Starkey, notices though, Starkey was unsuccessful in clearing all the soup out of the man's eyebrows, which now becomes a fixation for Creighton, perhaps a suggestion by King that though the individuals change, the role remains about the same.

I'll pick up next with Chapter 23, which focuses on Randall Flagg, the novel's major villain (assuming you forgive Starkey, Creighton, and the rest of the military for messing with the superflu in the first place).