David Sarkies's Reviews > Christine

Christine by Stephen King
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May 09, 14

bookshelves: horror
Recommended to David by: Jeremy Groffen
Recommended for: People who like a really good horror book
Read from October 13 to 19, 2001, read count: 1

How our possessions in turn possess us
21 January 2012

I have read a few Stephen King books and I must say that my favourites so far would be this book and Firestarter. In high school my English teacher had a chip on his shoulder regarding Stephen King, referring to his books as pulp literature and airport trash (a term that he used to describe books that you purchase at airport bookshops to read on the plane - his thoughts being that such books tend to have little literary merit and are simply read to while away the time). While I had read quite a lot of books up until that time, I held the belief that simply reading was a beneficial activity, and it was only when I started his class that it was suggested that while reading was good, one needs to be selective of the books that one reads because not every book is considered to be literature. While I do sort of agree, one of the things that I decided to do (though I should have performed this challenge when I was in his class) was to question his opinion in relation to whether Stephen King does have any literary merit.
Stephen King did cause a bit of controversy recently when he said "If you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don't, then you've got the Army, Iraq, I don't know, something like that." One might suggest that he has a personal interest in people being able to read (namely so that they will by his books), but remember that he has had quite a few of his books adapted for the cinema, so one does not necessarily need to be able to read to enjoy a Stephen King story (though I must suggest that I do prefer the books to the films in pretty much every case). However I do believe that he has a point. While one might have a few more employment options beyond the army if one cannot read, they do tend to be quite limited. He is right in that being able to read gives one a choice, a choice in what job they will want do and the ability to think and reason. Reading is important, and more important than simply creating a market for a author to sell their books.
We all know Stephen King as being a horror novelist, and that he is, but in many cases his books also tend to have a science-fiction or fantasy element to them. King is actually one of the very few horror writers that I have ever read and I find that his books have a distinctive quality to them. I get the same feeling from the adaptations that have been made of his books. When I think of horror movies I generally think of slasher flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street and the like, and while some of King's stories do have a slasher element to them, as well as demonic antagonists, there tends to be a deeper aspect to his horror than simply running away from a guy wearing hedge-clippers. His horror tends to reflect real situations and how these real situations can haunt us.
Christine is an example of this. Granted that the movie is about a demon possessed car, but the horror of the story is not so much the demon that possesses the car but how the car itself becomes such a focus of the hero's life that the car itself begins to possess him. The horror of the story is basically about how our possessions cease to be owned by us and begin to own us rather than a demon possessed car running the streets of small town America killing people at random. In fact, Christine (which is the name of the car) does not seem to actually kill people at random, but rather will have a purpose in killing people, and it is usually in Arnie's (the protagonist) defence.
I do not think the car has Arnie's best interests at heart and that is usually the case in such stories. While it appears that Christine is Arnie's superhero friend (for want of a better word) it is Arnie that is being used and drained. The changes begin very subtly, and begin after he purchases the car as an old wreck. However, as he begins to clean it, the car begins to repair itself (though this goes unnoticed by him). It is at the beginning as Arnie lovingly attempts to return Christine to her former glory that we at first see the slight changes in his own personality. He begins the story as the local nerd, is elevated during the story to one of the popular boys, but then his newfound status slowly corrupts him and he finishes up becoming a shadow of the person that he once was.
It is suggestive of anything that we seek to change who we are. It is like many of us in our teenage years. We seek companionship, popularity, and to be one of the in crowd. Sometimes we get there, and in many cases it does take time. Sometimes, though, we try to artificially create it (as happens in Arnie's case), and while the change may come quickly, it is not without a price. Many times we actually ignore and forget the people who really are our friends, the people who will stick by us through thick and thin. Christine is a story about those challenges, and a boy who tries to take a short cut to reach his goal. At first it seems innocent, but it is like a snowball, getting bigger and faster as it rolls down hill until its destructive power ruins all that he loves and cherishes.
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