Ending interpretation (spoilers for this and Cell)

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César Hernández-Meraz

Wants to be Nick, ends up as Larry
May 19, 2015
571
4,143
38
Aguascalientes, Mexico
#1
I finished reading Pet Sematary last week. I really liked the story and the characters.

At the end, we see Louis being forced by whatever is in those woods to bury someone else there. We have seen evidence of that evil thing's powers and influence. We know how it plays with humans' minds and makes them do what it wants.

Obviously, it has an interest on having people keep using the graveyard, so I suppose it might let Louis live, only to have him "infect" others with the knowledge of that burying ground. Oz might let Rachel keep up appearances to Louis (he himself would try to convince his brain that everything is alright) at least until he tells other people about that place, who knows (even if they have to live hiding after what happened, that place would call back to him).

All the things he kept thinking about how Rachel had not been touched by whatever was in there because he was quick to bury her this time are obviously caused by the Oz. Whatever it takes to convince this otherwise rational man to do what is needed.

But a couple of days after I finished reading it, I thought of Cell.

In that book, young Jordan explains his theory about restarting/rebooting the brain of the affected people, with a high degree of certainty that it could work (at least, it was worth trying it). The book ends before we see the actual results of this theory put in practice.

SK later said he thought it was clear that it was going to work, and that the book has this relatively happy ending.

Then I found the parallels between those two books interesting. I still think all evidence in Pet Sematary points to a not-truly-happy ending, with undead-Rachel still being an avatar of Oz/Wendigo.

But forgetting about Oz just a little, seeing Louis's conviction that it will work this time (he was somewhat more objective in Gage's case, although, of course, he was less exhausted) and undead-Rachel's last word before the end, this presents an interesting case of "what if" and an alternate chance of "lived happily ever after".
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,208
56
#6
Hmmm . . .

You know, it's a funny thing about this story:

Clearly there is something in the woods which announces its presence to those who visit the cemetery, but I never really thought of the evil in this story as external. I've always felt that whatever power influences the cemetery is somehow buffeted by the deadfall (which is why the deadfall must be crossed with faith, rather than carefully).

Obviously, there is something at work which keeps people going up there (and telling other people about it), but not everyone who uses the cemetery goes as crackerbox as Louis does (although some do), and what I keep getting from this story -- whenever I allow myself to visit -- is that Louis is so far intellectually removed from . . . what? . . . mysticism? . . . that he believes he can "outsmart" the cemetery in a way that Judd or any of the other locals do not.

Either that . . . or I am entirely wrong.
 

doowopgirl

very avid fan
Aug 7, 2009
6,583
22,460
60
dublin ireland
#7
Hmmm . . .

You know, it's a funny thing about this story:

Clearly there is something in the woods which announces its presence to those who visit the cemetery, but I never really thought of the evil in this story as external. I've always felt that whatever power influences the cemetery is somehow buffeted by the deadfall (which is why the deadfall must be crossed with faith, rather than carefully).

Obviously, there is something at work which keeps people going up there (and telling other people about it), but not everyone who uses the cemetery goes as crackerbox as Louis does (although some do), and what I keep getting from this story -- whenever I allow myself to visit -- is that Louis is so far intellectually removed from . . . what? . . . mysticism? . . . that he believes he can "outsmart" the cemetery in a way that Judd or any of the other locals do not.

Either that . . . or I am entirely wrong.
No, I always thought Louis was too far removed from whatever and thought he could outsmart it. I think he was a very modern person who had no concept of anything outside this world.
 

César Hernández-Meraz

Wants to be Nick, ends up as Larry
May 19, 2015
571
4,143
38
Aguascalientes, Mexico
#8
Agreed. I saw much of myself in Louis. I try to see things coldly and objectively. But I wonder if I could be the one to break when faced with some situation that requires less logic and more emotions.

In this case Rachel, who has always been "weak" for letting her emotions rule her life, is the one who keeps her cool and gets to be the (would-be) strong hero of the story when presented with a situation that requires emotional fortitude and accepting greater powers (without trying to make them fit our own logic and needs).
 
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Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,208
56
#9
Agreed. I saw much of myself in Louis. I try to see things coldly and objectively. But I wonder if I could be the one to break when faced with some situation that requires less logic and more emotions.

In this case Rachel, who has always been "weak" for letting her emotions rule her life, is the one who keeps her cool and gets to be the (would-be) strong hero of the story when presented with a situation that requires emotional fortitude and accepting greater powers (without trying to make them fit our own logic and needs).
This is a very good point. For me this becomes pronounced when Louis decides he's going to dig up Gage's body. This, to me, is when Louis "snaps" . . . except that he doesn't. Like you said, he's very cool and calculating about how he is going to go about this obscene thing. He does his research. He makes a plan. He gathers his tools. He's completely out of his mind, doing absurd things in a very rational manner.

To me, that's a lot scarier than a spirit wandering around in the woods.
 
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GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
80,834
306,321
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Cambridge, Ohio
#10
This is a very good point. For me this becomes pronounced when Louis decides he's going to dig up Gage's body. This, to me, is when Louis "snaps" . . . except that he doesn't. Like you said, he's very cool and calculating about how he is going to go about this obscene thing. He does his research. He makes a plan. He gathers his tools. He's completely out of his mind, doing absurd things in a very rational manner.

To me, that's a lot scarier than a spirit wandering around in the woods.
...makes the Wendigo look like a paper boogie man....
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,208
56
#11
...makes the Wendigo look like a paper boogie man....
I think it does, yes.

The Wendigo may inform or influence or protect or promote (or whatever) the cemetery and its magic, but I think the people who use the cemetery bring their madness with them.
 
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GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
80,834
306,321
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Cambridge, Ohio
#13
I think it does, yes.

The Wendigo may inform or influence or protect or promote (or whatever) the cemetery and its magic, but I think the people who use the cemetery bring their madness with them.
...I concur, and further postulate that the Wendigo acts a type of supernatural amplifier of said madness....
 

Aloysius Nell

Well-Known Member
Apr 1, 2014
306
994
46
#17
When I first read this, in the late 80s, I remember flipping idly through it, before reading, and reading the random phrase - a dangerous game with Stephen King! I got caught by the sequence where Louis is breaking into the cemetery, and ended up reading several pages. So, I knew his son was dead before reading the book. But, I just couldn't believe it. Could not reconcile THAT Louis with the Louis I met on page one, or walked with for the next few hundred pages. I was completely surprised, amazed, and dumbfounded by the line "Gage, who now had less than two months to live, ..." Surreal, and it is no different on rereads. (I always think Romeo and Juliet are going to make it, too!)
 
Dec 6, 2017
13
40
37
#18
One of the few things that I thought didn't work so well in the book was the introduction of the wendigo or the idea of the wendigo while Louis was on his way to the burial ground. It just felt dropped in and generic. Stephen King might as well have brought Bigfoot or some other mainstream legend into play (perhaps Bigfoot could have had a marker in the Pet Sematary - 'Bigfoot - he was elusive'). The unknown quality of the burial ground and its powers is terrifying - and so bringing a well-known native American legend such as the wendigo detracts from this, for me. I found the unexplained face that was ahead of him for a long time on the path much scarier.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
80,834
306,321
56
Cambridge, Ohio
#19
One of the few things that I thought didn't work so well in the book was the introduction of the wendigo or the idea of the wendigo while Louis was on his way to the burial ground. It just felt dropped in and generic. Stephen King might as well have brought Bigfoot or some other mainstream legend into play (perhaps Bigfoot could have had a marker in the Pet Sematary - 'Bigfoot - he was elusive'). The unknown quality of the burial ground and its powers is terrifying - and so bringing a well-known native American legend such as the wendigo detracts from this, for me. I found the unexplained face that was ahead of him for a long time on the path much scarier.
....suffice it to say, there was enough fear and loathing to go around.....
 
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