- The Stand
First edition cover
Author(s) Stephen King Country United States Language English Genre(s) Post-apocalyptic novel Publisher Doubleday Publication date November 1978 Media type Print (Hardcover) Pages 823 ISBN 978-0385121682 Preceded by The Shining Followed by The Dead Zone
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It demonstrates the scenario in his earlier short story, Night Surf. The novel was originally published in 1978 and was later re-released in 1990 as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition; King restored some text originally cut for brevity, added and revised sections, changed the setting of the story from 1980 (which in turn was changed to 1985 for the original paperback release in 1980) to 1990, and updated a few pop culture references accordingly. The Stand was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979, and was adapted into both a television miniseries for ABC and a graphic novel published by Marvel Comics.
The book is dedicated to King's wife, Tabitha: "For my wife Tabitha: This dark chest of wonders."
The novel is divided into three parts, or books. The first is titled "Captain Trips" and takes place over nineteen days, with the escape and spread of a human-made biological weapon, a superflu (influenza) virus known formally as "Project Blue" but most commonly as "Captain Trips" (among some other colloquialisms). The virus is developed at a U.S. Army base, where it is released. While the base tries to shut down before any infected person can escape, a security malfunction allows a guard and his family to sneak out. Unfortunately, they are already infected, and release an epidemic, which quickly turns into a pandemic, that leads directly to the death of an estimated 99.4% of the world's human and animal population.
King outlines the total breakdown and destruction of society through widespread violence, the failure of martial law to contain the outbreak, and eventually the death of virtually the entire population. The human toll is also dealt with, as the few survivors must care for their families and friends, dealing with confusion and grief as their loved ones succumb to the flu.
The expanded edition opens with a prologue titled "The Circle Opens" that offers greater detail into the circumstances surrounding the development of the virus and the security breach that allowed its escape from the secret laboratory compound where it was created.
"On the Border"
Intertwining cross-country odysseys are undertaken by a small number of survivors (3 parties, 8 people in "Stu's", 7 in "Nick's" and 5 in "Larry's") are drawn together by both circumstances and their shared dreams of a 108-year-old woman from Hemingford, Nebraska whom they see as a refuge and a representation of good in the struggle of good versus evil. This woman, Abagail Freemantle (known as "Mother Abagail"), becomes the spiritual leader of this group of survivors, directing them to Boulder, Colorado, referred to as "the Free Zone", where they begin to reestablish a democratic society. Much of this section of the book involves the struggles to create an orderly society reinstating the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights as a basis (with modifications). Boulder is found to be hosting considerably fewer dead bodies of plague victims than other cities, due to an exodus following a false rumor in the early stages of the plague that the outbreak originated in the Boulder Air Test Center.
Meanwhile, another group of survivors (party of 10, but with more interesting nick names like "The Trashcan Man" and "Ace High" along with normal ones like "Carl Hough") are drawn to Las Vegas, Nevada by Randall Flagg (known as "the Dark Man", among other nefarious names), who is an evil being with supernatural powers; he exists in the story to represent the opposite influence of Mother Abagail. Flagg’s governance is tyrannical and brutal, using crucifixion, dismemberment and other forms of torture as punishment for those who are disloyal and disobedient. His group is able to quickly reorganize their society, restore power to Las Vegas, and rebuild the city as many technical professionals have migrated to the city. The book notes that at Las Vegas, Flagg's group is constantly working and has organized a strong but harsh structure while at the Free Zone, some survivors lounge idly and do not work as hard. Flagg's group also has started a school system and weapons program with survivor Carl Hough as a helicopter pilot and the Trashcan Man searching the country for weapons.
The Free Zone's democratic society is not without its problems: Mother Abagail (feeling that she has become prideful and sinned due to her pleasure at being a public figure) disappears into the wilderness on a journey of spiritual reconciliation. While one of the members of "Stu's party" builds a dynamite bomb in response to feelings of disconnection and unrequited love. However, two other members confiscate the explosive and crudely rig it to kill and wound the committee members of the Free Zone's democracy. Shortly before the explosion Mother Abigail returns (in poor shape) and the majority of the colony rushes to see her.
The stage is now set for the final confrontation as the two camps become aware of one another, and each recognizes the other as a threat to its survival, leading to the "stand" of good against evil. There is no pitched battle, however. Instead, at Mother Abagail's dying behest, Stu, Larry, Ralph and Glen set off on foot towards Las Vegas on an expedition to confront Randall Flagg. Stu breaks his leg en route and drops out. He encourages the others to leave without him, telling them that God will provide for him. Glen, Ralph, and Larry soon encounter Flagg's men, who take them prisoner. When Glen rejects an opportunity to be spared if he kneels and begs Flagg for his life, he is shot on Flagg's order by one of his men. Flagg gathers his entire collective to witness the execution of the other two, but before it can take place, Trashcan Man arrives with a nuclear warhead and a giant glowing hand—"The Hand of God"—detonates the bomb, destroying Flagg's followers and the two remaining prisoners.
Stu, with the aid of two of Flagg's camp survivors, survives injury, illness, and a harsh Rocky Mountain winter. The three of them arrive back in Boulder soon after the birth of Fran’s baby. Although the baby falls ill with the superflu, he is able to fight it off. In the end, Stu and Fran decide to return to Maine, and the original edition of the novel ends with the two of them questioning whether the human race can learn from its mistakes. The answer, given in the last line, is ambiguous: "I don’t know."
The expanded edition follows this with a brief coda called "The Circle Closes", which leaves a darker impression and fits in with King’s ongoing "wheel of ka" theme. Randall Flagg, using the alias "Russell Faraday", wakes up on a beach somewhere in the South Pacific, having escaped the atomic blast in Vegas by using his dark magic (although Flagg does not remember how he got to the beach or what his real name is, and it is suggested that he does not even remember the events in America), and begins recruiting adherents among a preliterate, dark-skinned people, who worship him as some sort of god.
Charles D. Campion
A soldier stationed out in the California desert, Campion is patient zero, the original carrier of the superflu outside of its containment area. On duty the night the deadly virus escapes the complex, he manages to flee with his wife and baby daughter before the lockdown of the base. He and his family finally succumb to the flu at a gas station in Arnette, Texas, spreading the virus and unleashing the events of the story.
General William "Billy" Starkey
As the commanding officer of Project Blue, Starkey is aware that the superflu is almost impossible to control once loose. Though compassionate, he goes to extreme lengths to cover up the accident and its ensuing pandemic as long as he can; for example, he orders the execution of journalists who try to reveal the truth. In an attempt at retaining plausible deniability, he orders a contingency plan into effect: to release the virus on several other continents in an effort to make it seem as though the U.S. did not create it artificially. After being dismissed by the President due to his failure to contain the virus, he commits suicide in the laboratory where the superflu was created.
General Starkey's friend and right hand man, he periodically updates Starkey on the situation. He assumes command of the containment operation after Starkey is relieved of command of Project Blue and commits suicide in the Project Blue lab. He is last heard speaking to an army officer on the radio in Los Angeles; it is unknown whether he survives the superflu.
Abagail Freemantle, also known as "Mother Abagail", leads the "good" survivors of the Captain Trips plague, and is also a prophet of God. She is 108 years old and lives in a farmhouse in Hemingford Home, Nebraska. She is one of the 0.6% of the population that is immune to the Captain Trips virus, and initially appears to some of the plague survivors in dreams, drawing them to her just as Randall Flagg draws the evil survivors to him. She and her followers make their way to Boulder, Colorado where they establish the "Boulder Free Zone" government.
She receives visions from God, though when she sins through pride, she loses her foresight and goes into exile in the wilderness. She regains her ability, and returns to the Zone just in time to inadvertently save most of the Free Zone Committee from Harold Lauder's assassination attempt. On her deathbed, she shares one final vision: four men from the committee are to travel to the west to make a stand against Randall Flagg. She makes no prediction as to what will occur, only that one will fall before arriving in Las Vegas, and that the remainder will be brought before Flagg. Mother Abagail dies shortly after revealing this prophecy.
A quiet man from the fictitious town of Arnette, East Texas, Stu is at his friend’s gas station the night Charles Campion arrives. He is the first man discovered to be immune to the superflu, and is taken by authorities first to the Atlanta CDC, then to the fictitious Stovington, Vermont plague center. He escapes from the government employee sent to execute him, wandering through New England for a few days before meeting Glen Bateman and, shortly after, Fran Goldsmith and Harold Lauder. Stu becomes romantically involved with Fran, accepting the unborn child she carries, but their involvement creates ill will with Harold Lauder, who holds an unrequited love for her.
Stu rises to authority in the Free Zone, becoming the spokesperson for the Free Zone Committee and its first Marshal. After an assassination attempt by Harold, Stu is told by Mother Abagail that he is to travel west to stand against Randall Flagg. Stu leads Larry, Glen and Ralph to Las Vegas, but breaks his leg in Utah and is forced to remain behind, along with Kojak the dog. He develops pneumonia due to injury and hypothermia, but witnesses the destruction of Las Vegas and is saved by Tom Cullen, who nurses him back to health. Stu and Tom trek back to Boulder, where Frannie has given birth to the first known surviving child on Earth, post-plague. Stu and Frannie leave Boulder to raise their family in Maine.
A college student from Ogunquit, Maine, Fran (or Frannie, as she is often called), is pregnant at the start of the book, a topic which results in a painful standoff with her mother and the end of her relationship with the baby’s father, Jesse Rider. The superflu all but wipes out her community, with Fran and Harold Lauder being the only local survivors after parking lot attendant Gus Dinsmore dies on June 30. After burying her father in the garden he was weeding just a week earlier, Frannie decides to join forces with Harold. Harold decides to paint a message on Moses Richardson's barn (as it overlooks US Route 1, the road most people would take into town) telling anyone who reads it that they have gone to the fictional Stovington, Vermont plague center and even leaves road directions, then finishes by signing both his name and Frannie's (the latter name causing him to nearly fall off the roof). The two make their way to the Stovington facility of the Centers for Disease Control in hopes of finding someone in authority, but before they reach their destination they meet Stu Redman. After Harold reacts VERY negatively to Stu, he finally agrees to let Stu join their party and the three of them travel back west on US 302 to Glen Bateman's house but not before Stu tells them that everyone at the Stovington facility is dead. Glen Bateman agrees to join them and they travel west to Stovington and confirm that not only is everyone dead at the Stovington facility but that Stu was nearly killed there. They then make their way west to Mother Abagail, during which Fran falls deeply in love with Stu, a fact she records in her diary (as well as many other things about the trip west).
Fran serves on the original Free Zone Committee in Boulder and acts as its moral compass. Upon her union with Stu, Harold becomes jealous, but later appears to let bygones be bygones. However, Fran remains suspicious of him, a feeling later justified when she finds his diary and plot to kill Stu. She saves the majority of the committee when she receives an intuition of doom in the form of the planted bomb. She is moderately injured in the blast, but her unborn child remains safe. Fran is opposed to Stu traveling west, but comes to terms with it when she realizes it is what he has to do. Fran later moves in with Lucy Swann and delivers a baby boy. Though there is initial joy at the birth, her child falls ill with the superflu and Fran is crushed. However, she is rewarded by news of both Stu’s return to the Free Zone and her baby’s recovery. Throughout the novel, Fran becomes more and more homesick for her native Maine, and at the end of the book she, Stu, and the baby make their way back east; the last chapter also confirms that she is pregnant with Stu's baby.
Fran’s baby is the first surviving child born in the Boulder Free Zone. He is stricken with the superflu soon after birth, but his partial immunity inherited from Fran enables him to recover.
Harold is 16 years old and lived in Ogunquit, Maine, at the beginning of the novel. He is the younger brother of Fran Goldsmith’s best friend, Amy Lauder, and is a social outcast in his local high school. Harold doesn’t help matters for himself by being rather obnoxious and uppity. A practicing but unpopular writer, he prefers to use a manual typewriter. After the superflu wipes out the entire population of Ogunquit except for himself and Fran, the two decide to head to the Stovington Plague Center in Vermont. Harold decides to leave a prominent note, on the roof of a barn, detailing their plans and directions for future travelers. This ongoing effort by Harold, for which he is later congratulated by Larry Underwood, allows several other groups to join together in Colorado.
Harold falls in love with Fran and sees himself as her protector of sorts. When they meet Stuart Redman, Harold refuses to allow him to join, even going so far as to threaten Stu with a gun, but after a conversation in which Stu tells him he just wants to come along and has no designs on Fran, Harold relents. After the plague facility proves to be a disappointment, the survivors head to Nebraska, and then Colorado to join Mother Abagail, picking up more survivors along the way. Harold attempts to profess his love for Frannie, only to be rebuffed. As Fran becomes involved with Stu, Harold finds his jealousy growing.
Eventually, Harold disregards Fran's privacy, and rifles through her backpack. He finds her diary and begins reading it. There he finds that Fran has made several insulting comments about him, mocks him in her private thoughts, and considers him to be "immature." This proves to be the breaking point for Harold; from this point on he swears vengeance on Fran and Stuart.
Harold quickly becomes a respected and well thought of member of the Boulder Community. Due to the harsh conditions after the plague, he has dropped his excess weight, his acne has cleared, and his intelligence is often seen as an asset by those around him, rather than an isolating hindrance in his former life. As such, his ideas are used to better the community, and Harold frequently volunteers for the toughest jobs in the Boulder Free Zone, including moving dead bodies. It is because of his thin, sharp, resilient persona that he earns the nickname "Hawk" as a matter of respect from the other men on the work crews, and his old life has seemed to all but disappear except in his own thoughts. In a moment of emotional clarity, Harold realizes that he truly is accepted and valued in this strange new world, and that he has the freedom to choose a new life for himself as a respected member of society. However, unable to cast aside his past humiliations and his image of himself, he rejects his last chance at redemption and surrenders instead to his dreams of vengeance, particularly on Fran and Stu (he goes so far as to handle his gun - while in his jacket pocket - at Stu while scouting for the missing Mother Abagail, but does not fire). Soon after this, Nadine Cross approaches him and reveals an in-depth knowledge of Harold’s insecurities, hatreds and fears. She hints at her own. They enjoy a decadent sexual playtime that involves everything except vaginal intercourse, which Nadine does not allow Harold to perform due to her supernaturally-inspired commitment to Randall Flagg. Harold succumbs to Nadine’s seduction. He fulfills Flagg’s wishes and creates a bomb to destroy the Free Zone Committee.
After detonating the bomb—which kills seven people—Harold and Nadine flee toward Las Vegas. However, Harold ends up wrecking his motorcycle and breaking his leg after slipping on an oil slick. Flagg, mistrustful of Harold for being "too full of thoughts," has apparently arranged the accident. Harold initially survives the accident, though terribly injured, and attempts to shoot Nadine. He misses and Nadine abandons him and continues to travel alone to meet Flagg in the desert.
Realizing that he is dying, Harold writes a note in which he takes responsibility for his actions, and expresses remorse and apologizes for them, though he knows he cannot be forgiven. He signs this note, "Hawk," as a way of trying one final time to accept the best version of himself that had existed briefly in Boulder. Harold commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. His body is later found by Stu, Larry, Glen, and Ralph, and while they do not bury his corpse, Stu gently removes the gun from Harold's mouth and remarks that Harold’s actions were a waste not only of Nick and Susan (who died in the bomb explosion), but of himself as well. To Stu's surprise, he finds himself wanting to avenge Harold as well as the other victims when he meets Randall Flagg.
An associate professor of sociology who went into retirement some years before the superflu hit, Glendon Pequod "Glen" Bateman met Stu near Glen’s home in Woodsville, New Hampshire. A senior citizen handicapped by arthritis, the wise Bateman is often on hand to dispense advice to his young friend. A loyal friend, Bateman also experiences dreams of Mother Abagail, and joins Stu, Frannie, and Harold on their journey to meet her. Bateman becomes part of the reform committee in Boulder. He also becomes one of the four men who must meet Randall Flagg in Las Vegas. But as Stu falls by the wayside, Glen, along with Larry and Ralph, goes to Las Vegas and is detained by Flagg’s forces. Flagg offers Glen his freedom if he will "get down on (his) knees and beg for it." Glen refuses, laughing at the Dark Man for being so transparent, upon which Flagg orders Lloyd Henreid to execute him. "It’s all right, Mr. Henreid", Glen says as he dies, "you don’t know any better."
Glen Bateman's dog, an Irish Setter, whom he adopted after his original master died of the superflu. Formerly named Big Steve, Kojak is a rare survivor of the flu which impacted dogs and horses as well as humans. When Glen leaves with Redman, Kojak is initially left behind. However, he follows them and is later attacked by wolves after arriving at Mother Abagail's empty house. Kojak manages to walk to the Free Zone. He joins Glen, Stu, Ralph, and Larry on their journey to Las Vegas. When Stu is injured, he stays behind and kills rabbits and other small animals to feed Stu. After being found by Tom Cullen, he is taken back to Boulder. It is stated that he will live for 16 years after his master's death, putting his own death in 2001-2 (original edition), 2006-7 (revised).
Part of an unwilling harem of women who were taken captive by evil Superflu survivors and repeatedly raped, Susan - a former student at Kent State University - is one of the women Stu and his party rescues. (Note: this version of her earlier experience is only in the uncut version of the novel.) Sue becomes a member of the original Boulder Free Zone Committee and recruits fellow captive Dayna Jurgens to spy out west. She is killed by Harold Lauder’s bomb in Ralph Brentner’s home.
A community college P.T. instructor from Xenia, Ohio, and one of the women whom Stu’s party rescues from the harem (in the uncut version). While she originally seems to display some romantic interest in Stu Redman, this does not extend beyond flirtation and two kisses, though it does cause Fran some consternation. Later, it is revealed that she is bisexual.
After residing in Boulder for a short time, she is recruited by fellow former captive Sue Stern to spy out west. In Las Vegas, she works with a streetlight-repair crew, and sleeps with Lloyd Henreid as part of her ploy to obtain information. While working with the light crew, she sees Tom Cullen on a passing truck. Flagg, aware of her identity through telepathy, summons her to his office and attempts to make her reveal the third spy, into whose mind he cannot see. In order to protect Tom Cullen, and to save herself from the torture that Flagg will put her through, Dayna commits suicide by putting her head through a plate glass window, then jerking around so that the sharp edges of the broken glass cut open her jugular vein. This act of free will indicates the beginning of Flagg's downfall, as he foresaw her attempting to assassinate him and thwarted that, but did not predict her suicide attempt and could not prevent her death. Her body is desecrated by Flagg and later burned outside of Las Vegas.
Larry is a cocky young singer and composer who, at the beginning of the novel, is starting to reach real success with his debut single, "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" He falls in debt to a local drug dealer while living in Los Angeles, and travels to New York City to lie low while visiting his loving but deeply disapproving mother. As the plague and anarchy destroy New York, Larry comes to his mother’s aid, but he is unable to prevent her death from the superflu. Not long after, Larry finds himself one of the few people left in New York City. He meets a troubled middle-aged woman named Rita Blakemoor and the two decide to leave New York together. They experience a frightening trek through the Lincoln Tunnel while leaving the island; Larry often thinks back to this event and is terrified by it. Rita eventually dies from a drug overdose that Larry describes as "70% accident and 30% suicide."
Haunted by his dreams of Randall Flagg, Larry is in a semi-catatonic state for several days until he finally collapses from exhaustion in New Hampshire. Recovering after a night’s sleep, Larry travels to Maine, where he plans to spend the summer, until he meets Nadine Cross and young Leo Rockway (known then only as "Joe"). The three travel together to Ogunquit, where they find Harold Lauder’s painted sign and its directions. Deciding to follow the directions, Larry leads Nadine and Joe to Stovington, Vermont, meeting Lucy Swann along the way. In Stovington, they find only Harold’s directions to Nebraska. Larry leads the ever-growing party to Nebraska and eventually on to Colorado, following Harold’s directions across the country. Though Larry is initially interested in Nadine, she spurns his advances and he begins a relationship with Lucy. Arriving in Boulder, Larry settles down with Lucy and Leo, becoming a member of the Free Zone Committee. Nadine attempts to reconcile with him, but Larry refuses her, choosing to remain with Lucy. Larry later breaks into Harold Lauder’s home with Fran Goldsmith after Leo instructs him to investigate before something horrible happens. They find Harold’s ledger, which states he intends to kill Stuart Redman. However, Harold’s plan is already in motion, and Stu narrowly escapes the assassination attempt the next day. Larry leaves Boulder with Stu, Ralph, and Glen when Mother Abagail instructs them to go to Las Vegas. Larry leads the party after Stu breaks his leg en route to Las Vegas, where Larry and Ralph eventually die in the nuclear explosion caused by Trashcan Man.
A teacher at a private school in Vermont, Nadine has retained her virginity due to some vaguely defined but powerful sense that she is destined for something as dark as it is unique. After the outbreak of the superflu, Nadine finds an emotionally damaged young boy whom she calls Joe; Joe has regressed to a savage state of mind but trusts her and stays with her. Nadine meets Larry Underwood when Joe finds him sleeping. Joe is working up the courage to kill the sleeping Larry when Nadine stops him. The pair secretly follow Larry to Maine, where Joe finally does try to kill Larry, only to be overpowered. After conversing with Larry, Nadine agrees to join forces with him and find other survivors. Nadine is attracted to Larry but her subconscious conviction that she must remain "pure" has strengthened and begun to take shape; she begins to both fear and anticipate that she is meant for Flagg.
Upon arriving in Boulder, Nadine begins to surrender to the seductive allure of the Walkin’ Dude, and Joe (who has recovered enough to give his real name as Leo Rockway) becomes reluctant to be with her. Later, Leo reveals that Nadine had already known that it was too late to sleep with Larry. Nadine makes a last desperate attempt to seduce Larry, which would break her virginal commitment to Flagg and free her, but he is by now firmly committed to Lucy Swann and rejects her advances. Nadine surrenders to Flagg completely, communicating with him via a Ouija board, an echo of her terrifying experience with a Ouija board in college, when she was first touched by Flagg ("WE ARE IN THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD NADINE"). On Flagg’s orders, she seduces Harold Lauder. Although she will not do "that one little thing" with him, they are apparently free to do whatever else, sexually, that they wish. She uses him to attempt to assassinate the committee, a plot that would have succeeded but for the return of Mother Abagail and a premonition of Frannie’s.
Nadine travels west with Harold; when his motorcycle crashes, she implies it was her choice that Harold die in a motorcycle accident rather than be killed by Flagg upon arrival in Las Vegas. Harold fires his pistol at her and very nearly hits her, suggesting that she might unconsciously prefer death to the dark consummation awaiting her and revealing that Flagg only has limited power. Nadine continues on towards Vegas until one night Flagg comes to her in the desert, revealing his true nature and raping her, an experience which so violates and horrifies her (while at the same time causing her immense pleasure) that she falls into catatonia. Flagg takes her with him to Vegas and installs them both in the penthouse suite of the MGM Grand, almost immediately announcing her pregnancy. At last, Nadine recovers sufficiently to taunt Flagg about his coming failure, and she succeeds in goading him into throwing her off the balcony, killing herself and the unborn child.
The first survivor encountered by Larry Underwood’s party, 24-year-old New Hampshire housewife Lucy has survived the superflu while her husband and daughter die. Lucy joins the party on their route to the Stovington Plague Center. She becomes romantically involved with Larry, a feeling that she feels is not shared because of Larry’s strong attraction to Nadine Cross, despite her seeming disinterest in him. However, when forced to make a decision, Larry chooses to remain with Lucy, much to her surprise. Lucy stands by Larry through his tenure as a member of the Free Zone Committee and serves as a devoted wife to him and as a mother to Leo Rockway. Unlike Fran Goldsmith, Lucy supports Larry’s decision to go west to confront Randall Flagg, though she does not know that she is pregnant herself at the time. Lucy takes care of Frannie during Stu’s absence and, at the end of the book, she has given birth to twins.
A man in his late seventies who joins Larry’s party in Illinois while making their way to Nebraska. Usually referred to as just "The Judge", he is a sharp, well-spoken, educated and insightful man who served as a judge in the 1950s, but has since retired. Lucy and Larry like him immensely, and Larry is pained when he successfully recruits the Judge as the first Free Zone spy and is unable to tell a distraught Lucy where The Judge is after he "vanishes" (The Judge, for his part, accepts before Larry can even bring himself to ask him, seeing the necessity of it). The Judge attempts to infiltrate Las Vegas from the north, but is intercepted by Flagg’s sentries in Idaho. A firefight ensues, and the Judge is killed by several shots to the head. This direct violation of Flagg's orders is the first vague sign that his power is limited and his downfall is imminent. The sentries had been under strict orders not to "mark his head", so that it could be delivered as a message to the Free Zone, and Flagg appears to brutally kill the surviving sentry, Bobby Terry, (who had not only killed Farris, but also the other sentry, Dave Roberts) for disfiguring the Judge's face and hampering this plan.
A 22-year-old deaf-mute drifter originally from Caslin, Nebraska, Nick is beaten and robbed outside of (fictional) Shoyo, Arkansas, by some local thugs shortly after the start of the epidemic. Moderately injured, he is befriended by the local sheriff and his wife and watches them die as the epidemic unfolds. As the epidemic progresses, as the newest deputy (due to the lack of any other healthy people around), Nick also watches two of the four thugs who beat him die of the plague in the local jail. He later frees the third, only to be confronted by the fourth, the fugitive Ray Booth, who has returned to kill him. He very nearly dies as a result of a minor gunshot wound he received during the scuffle with Booth; Nick, in a panic, accidentally fires the gun holstered on his belt. The bullet scrapes his leg and becomes infected. (This entire episode with Ray Booth returning to kill him is only in the uncut version of the novel.)
Nick eventually recovers and begins his journey to Hemingford Home, Nebraska. Along the way he meets Tom Cullen, and later Ralph Brentner, June Brinkmeyer, Gina McCone, Dick Ellis, and Olivia Walker, and they become a surrogate family to him. Nick leads the growing band of survivors to Nebraska and Mother Abagail, who guides them to Boulder. Nick serves on the Free Zone Committee, of which he is the leading thinker, and eventually recruits Tom Cullen to spy out West. Nick is killed by Harold Lauder's assassination attempt on the Committee, and it is later revealed that it was Nick who was meant to lead the stand against Randall Flagg. Nick’s spirit appears to Tom Cullen after his death, guiding him on his way home and showing him how to save Stu Redman’s life during Stu's bout with illness.
In the Complete and Uncut edition, Nick loses sight in one eye for a period of time when he is attacked by Booth, the leader of the four thugs. Booth is shot and killed by Andros, but the resulting damage causes Nick to wear an eyepatch for almost the rest of the story.
Tom Cullen is a man initially thought to be in his mid-20's to mid-30's who suffers from mild to moderate mental retardation. Nick encounters him while cycling from Arkansas to Nebraska through Oklahoma. After Nick learns that Tom remembers his father's return from the Korean War, he realizes Tom must be much older than he thought, perhaps in his 40's. The two bond closely, despite the fact that Nick cannot speak, and Tom cannot read Nick’s notes, though when the two encounter Ralph Brentner, Tom is finally able to learn Nick's name.
Tom generally possesses a childish speech pattern, peppered with exclamations of "My laws!" and "Laws, yes!" and he makes frequent references to himself in the third person. Tom also believes that everything is spelled "M-O-O-N" as in "M-O-O-N, that spells 'my main man'." When needing to make a logical connection, Tom, who is sometimes capable of normal thought, may slip into a form of self-hypnosis wherein he is able to make connections that he cannot while "awake" (that is, conscious and focused on something superficial). Nick, Stu, and Glen use this ability to place a post-hypnotic suggestion in Tom that will help him to act as the third Free Zone spy. During his hypnosis, Nick, Stu, and Glen discover that while hypnotized, Tom possesses the same type of foresight as Mother Abagail, referring to himself as the same Tom that Nick met in Oklahoma, but at the same time he proclaims himself to be "God’s Tom".
Tom travels West, giving a hypnotically imprinted cover story to get accepted into Las Vegas, and is able to avoid detection by Flagg. Tom’s anonymity seems to stem from his disability, as Flagg tells Dayna that every time he tries to see the third spy, all he sees is the moon; this confirms Dayna's sighting of Tom earlier (while both were on Vegas work crews), and her desire to protect both Tom and his status as a spy compels her to commit suicide rather than submit to further questioning by Flagg. The sight of the full moon rising over Las Vegas triggers Tom’s post-hypnotic suggestion, and he begins the return trip to Boulder, appropriately noting "M-O-O-N, that spells moon."
During his return to Boulder, he encounters Stu, who is suffering from a broken leg and pneumonia due to exposure. Originally, Tom was far east of where Stu fell, but a prophetic dream tells him that he must double back to find Stu. With help from Nick's spirit, who appears to him in visions (due to the fact that Nick is already deceased due to Harold Lauder's bomb), Tom is able to nurse a delirious and dying Stu back to health while they are snowed in for much of the winter at a motel in central Utah. Together, they return to Boulder to report the destruction of Las Vegas.
Ralph, an amiable Midwest farmer and United States Army veteran, meets Nick and Tom as their paths cross on a highway between Oklahoma and Nebraska, and together they form the first party to find Mother Abagail. Despite a lack of formal education, Ralph is possessed of a great deal of common sense and is very skilled with tools and machines, and is elected to the first Free Zone Committee. Ralph typically serves as Nick’s "voice", reading his notes to the others during committee meetings. Ralph survives Harold Lauder’s assassination attempt (but loses the third and fourth fingers on his left hand), and is chosen as one of the four to stand against Flagg. Along with Stu, Glen, and Larry, he walks to Las Vegas, and is instrumental in convincing Larry to leave Stu behind after he breaks his leg. Ralph is captured by Flagg along with Glen and Larry, and is to be executed by dismemberment in front of the Golden Nugget Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. Ralph is the first to notice the "Hand of God" as it descends from the sky and onto Trashcan Man’s nuclear weapon, detonating it and killing him and everyone else present.
Randall Flagg, also known as "the Dark Man" or "the Walkin’ Dude", is the main antagonist of the novel—more (or less) than a man, he is the embodiment of evil, an antichrist-like being whose goal is destruction and death. In the novel, he is presented as diametrically opposed to Mother Abagail’s personification of good.
The Dark Man character appears in many guises in other King novels and short stories, often with the initials "R.F." This very powerful, yet very unstable character is spread through King's other stories, most notably in The Dark Tower series. Flagg is also the main villain in The Eyes of the Dragon, and there are some passages in that book that allude to Flagg being immortal and pure evil.
Flagg's appearance shifts between human, demon, and various animals, and it is implied that he has lived many lives in many times; "Flagg" is just the name of his present form. Flagg is described by Tom Cullen as follows: "He looks like anybody you see on the street. But when he grins, birds fall dead off telephone lines. When he looks at you a certain way, your prostate goes bad and your urine burns. The grass yellows up and dies where he spits. He’s always outside. He came out of time. He doesn’t know himself." On the occasional instances when the reader sees through Flagg’s perspective, this insight is borne out: he does not know where he came from, has no memory of his life before Captain Trips though he vaguely remembers isolated violent or hateful events such as KKK lynchings and murdering police officers, taking part in race riots in the 1960s, being involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and some vague speculation that he was involved in Charles Manson's family. Most of these memories are marked by the note that Flagg was able to escape just at the last second at the end of many of these events, but that the events nourish his evil nature.
Like Mother Abagail, Flagg appears to various survivors in their dreams, providing a choice and attracting those who are drawn to structure, destruction and power. He rescues Lloyd Henreid from starvation in prison and with him as second-in-command establishes a community in Las Vegas, Nevada. Though Flagg has the ability to predict the future, along with several other demonic powers, as the events of The Stand unfold he begins to lose his power little by little as his plans go more and more awry. At the end of the novel, the Hand of God detonates a nuclear bomb, destroying Flagg’s gathered followers and Las Vegas. The uncut edition of the novel includes an epilogue in which Flagg, in a new incarnation, wakes in an unknown tropical location, where he meets a primitive tribe, telling them that he has come to teach them civilization and identifying himself as Russell Faraday.
Lloyd starts off as a petty criminal who, along with Andrew "Poke" Freeman, engages in a killing spree across Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico resulting in six murders, Freeman’s death, and Lloyd’s detention in a Phoenix jail. If he undergoes his scheduled trial, it is likely that he will be placed on Death Row under a new statute that reduces the delays and appeals in the capital punishment process. Once the plague hits, people at his prison start dying, including the guards. Lloyd is forgotten in his cell and eventually becomes the sole survivor. Lloyd demonstrates both resilience and an ability to forecast problems by rapidly concluding that his situation is growing dire well before the regular services to inmates stops; he is able to save himself from starvation by eating food he has saved, along with whatever rats, roaches, or other vermin he can catch, and very nearly the leg of a dead cellmate (in the uncut version, Flagg insinuates that Lloyd did indeed eat some human flesh, despite Lloyd's attempts to hide the cuts in the leg before the Dark Man arrived). He is found by Randall Flagg, who frees him from his cell after Lloyd, at that point starving and nearly delirious, agrees to be Flagg’s right-hand man despite suspicions about the man being the devil. At this time, Flagg also gives Lloyd a black stone with a red flaw as a symbol of Lloyd’s allegiance to Flagg.
Lloyd, oddly enough, finds himself feeling more intelligent and able than he thought he was, running several of the day-to-day activities in Vegas and even overseeing operations at a military base; he attributes his newfound abilities to Flagg, though Dayna later suspects that his natural ability to anticipate problems has only been amplified by fear of failing Flagg. For saving his life and elevating him to his second-in-command, Lloyd is fiercely loyal to Flagg, and chooses to remain with him despite his growing doubts over Flagg’s control of the situation, even when offered the opportunity to leave Las Vegas with several close friends. Lloyd respects the men's decision and does not blow the whistle to Flagg about the deserters, but he does not follow. Lloyd is present at the execution of Larry and Ralph, and is killed in the nuclear explosion caused by the Trashcan Man’s atomic warhead. Before that, Randall Flagg makes him shoot Glen Bateman. As Glen dies, he forgives Lloyd with his dying breath, saying "It's all right, Mr. Henreid.... you don’t know any better." Lloyd's last words were: "Oh shit, we're all fucked!"
"The Trashcan Man"
Donald Merwin Elbert, better known as the "Trashcan Man", is a schizophrenic pyromaniac, whose favorite phrases include "bumpty, bumpty, bump!" and "my life for you." He often found himself in trouble as a youth due to his fixation with fire. He was treated with shock treatments at an institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, before being incarcerated for arson as a teenager. Trash leaves prison during a work detail (carrying plague victims’ bodies from prison cells) and returns home to (the fictional) Powtanville, Indiana. Trash indulges his ambition of setting cities afire, setting fire to oil tanks in Powtanville, and then destroying the city of Gary, Indiana. He permanently disfigures his arm in the Powtanville incident when he tries to jump a railing and breaks his arm at the wrist, a break which he does not properly set and which later causes his hand to point away from his body at an almost 90 degree angle. He also severely burns his broken arm, as well as his upper thigh, when a piece of exploding tank hits him, covering the areas with burning oil.
He abandons his original plans of starting fires randomly all over America to join Randall Flagg when the Dark Man appears in his dreams and promises him work, "great work" (as Flagg puts it) in the desert. After treating his severely burned arm, he finds a bicycle and makes his way west with all speed.
In the unedited version, Trash briefly hooks up with a cocky, maniacal street hood named The Kid, but when The Kid threatens not only to kill Trash (several times, always for petty reasons), but to overthrow the Dark Man, Flagg sends wolves to save him. The Kid ends up holed up in a car with the pack of wolves surrounding it day and night.
The threat neutralized, Trash moves on to Las Vegas and he also receives a black stone with a red flaw. Due to his savant talent regarding destructive devices, he is assigned to search for weapons in the desert and to assist in arming the fighter jets at Indian Springs Air Force Base. Trash does well until, when being teased by fellow workers, a comment causes him to flash back to his tormented youth and revert to his old destructive ways.
In a schizophrenic episode, Trash destroys several trucks and aircraft, kills the most experienced pilots Las Vegas has, and flees into the desert. Overcome with anguish over his actions, Trash originally sets out to kill himself but later makes an attempt at redemption by bringing Flagg the most powerful weapon he can find: an atomic bomb, in the form of a warhead detached from a missile. Trash transports the nuclear warhead in a trailer attached to an ATV across the desert, coming down with a lethal case of radiation sickness in the process; the sickness has reached its terminal stage when Trash arrives in town. Trash ultimately brings about Flagg’s (apparent) destruction as the Hand of God descends and activates the warhead, destroying Las Vegas and everyone in it.
"The Kid" is a thug from Shreveport, Louisiana who meets the Trashcan Man en route to Las Vegas. He drives a souped-up hot rod and has a fanatical love of Coors beer and Rebel Yell whiskey. He is also ambitious, unstable, and easily angered, as Trashcan discovers, when The Kid nearly kills him for spilling a can of beer on the carpet. After becoming monumentally drunk, The Kid forces Trash to manually pleasure him while he rapes Trash with a pistol. The Kid and Trash travel together until they reach the permanently blocked Eisenhower Tunnel. After he threatens Trashcan Man's life one too many times, and threatens to overthrow the Dark Man, The Kid ends up trapped in a car surrounded by wolves sent by Flagg. The Kid survives for several days until, facing starvation, he jumps out of the car and fights the wolves, strangling one as he dies. His body is later found by Stu, Larry, Glen, and Ralph; Larry dubs him "the Wolfman." In the original edition, The Kid appeared as a minor character and was never seen directly, only in Trashcan’s flashbacks; the extended edition includes the full story of his encounter with Trashcan. It has also been revealed in interviews that The Kid is meant to be the reincarnation of late-50s serial killer Charles Starkweather.
An unstable, sex-crazed teenager who lives through the pandemic, she has sex with Nick Andros in the deserted store where they meet and then attempts to convince Nick to leave Tom Cullen behind. However, when she reveals her true nature, ridiculing Tom's impairment and frightening him into refusing Pepto-Bismol by claiming it is poison, Nick rejects her. She then tries to kill them with a rifle. She ends up joining Randall Flagg and, recognizing Tom Cullen, brings his presence as a spy to Lloyd's attention.
An ex marine butcher, Whitney joined Flagg's group and acts as a cook. He performs minor tasks but is high-ranking in Flagg's society, reporting directly to Lloyd or Flagg himself. Planning to flee to Central America with several others (first asking Lloyd to join them, though Lloyd refuses), Whitney decides to take a "stand" against Randall Flagg and publicly challenges him before the executions of Larry and Ralph. At least one of the people who were to leave with Whitney is in the crowd watching, implying that they had chosen not to leave or had not left yet. Randall announces that he would have just let Whitney go for the time being, but then mutilates and eventually kills Whitney with a ball of lightning from his finger. It turns out, though, that Whitney's death was not in vain: the lightning that killed him gathers in the sky over the next few moments before descending as the Hand of God and activating the Trashcan Man's nuke.
A former nightclub dancer, Jenny awaits Flagg in Las Vegas with Ronnie and Hector and when he arrives, kisses his boots. She works for the group as a construction worker and becomes close friends with Dayna, who is confused by why such a nice person as Jenny is in league with the evil group. Jenny discovers Dayna's true purpose in Las Vegas and betrays her to Randall Flagg. Later, Whitney tells Lloyd that Jenny wants to flee the group. Flagg tells Lloyd that he knows the names of people who want to leave, including Jenny. She is present during the executions and is most likely killed when the crowd runs away but is likely caught in the explosion.
Barry Dorgan is a friendly former detective of the Santa Monica, California Police. Although he sides with Flagg, he does so only because he thinks it is the only society with a chance of regaining a sense of law and order, although he eventually loses faith in this as well. One of the few mentally stable members of Flagg's police, he is one of the sentries who intercepts Larry, Glen, and Ralph, who are surprised by his sympathetic nature. He stands guard over Larry and Ralph shortly before their executions and is killed by the Trashcan Man's nuke.
"The Rat Man"
"Ratty" Erwins, a.k.a. The Rat Man, is a pirate-like hood. He is described as dressing like an Ethiopian pirate, with a red sash, a necklace of silver dollars around his "scrawny neck" and a sword he often threatened Larry Underwood and Ralph Brentner with. He also nicknamed Larry Underwood "Wonder Bread," and Brentner "Farmer John." He is described as "the only guy in Las Vegas too creepy [for Julie Lawry] to sleep with", in Julie's words, "except maybe in a pinch". He is likely killed in the explosion at the end of the book.
In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, Stephen King writes about the origins of The Stand at some length. One source was Patty Hearst's case. The original idea was to create a novel about the episode because "it seemed that only a novel might really succeed in explaining all the contradictions".
The author also mentions George R. Stewart's novel Earth Abides, which describes the odyssey of one of the last human survivors after the population is decimated by a plague, as one of the main inspirations:
With my Patty Hearst book, I never found the right way in . . . and during that entire six-week period, something else was nagging very quietly at the back of my mind. It was a news story I had read about an accidental CBW spill in Utah. (. . . ) This article called up memories of a novel called Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart.
(. . .) and one day while sitting at my typewriter, (. . . ) I wrote—just to write something: The world comes to an end but everybody in the SLA is somehow immune. Snake bit them. I looked at that for a while and then typed: No more gas shortages. That was sort of cheerful, in a horrible sort of way. 
The Stand was also planned by King as an epic The Lord of the Rings-type story in a contemporary American setting:
For a long time—ten years, at least—I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting. I just couldn't figure out how to do it. Then . . . after my wife and kids and I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I saw a 60 Minutes segment on CBW (chemical-biological warfare). I never forgot the gruesome footage of the test mice shuddering, convulsing, and dying, all in twenty seconds or less. That got me remembering a chemical spill in Utah, that killed a bunch of sheep (these were canisters on their way to some burial ground; they fell off the truck and ruptured). I remembered a news reporter saying, 'If the winds had been blowing the other way, there was Salt Lake City.' This incident later served as the basis of a movie called Rage, starring George C. Scott, but before it was released, I was deep into The Stand, finally writing my American fantasy epic, set in a plague-decimated USA. Only instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg. The land of Mordor ('where the shadows lie,' according to Tolkien) was played by Las Vegas. 
King nearly abandoned The Stand due to writers' block. Eventually, he reached the conclusion that the heroes were becoming too complacent, and were beginning to repeat all the same mistakes of their old society. In an attempt to resolve this, he added the part of the storyline where Harold and Nadine construct a bomb which explodes in a Free Zone committee meeting, killing Nick Andros, Chad Norris, and Susan Stern. Later, Mother Abagail explains on her deathbed that God permitted the bombing because He was dissatisfied with the heroes’ focus on petty politics, and not on the ultimate quest of destroying Flagg. When telling this story, King sardonically observed that the bomb saved the book, and that he only had to kill half of the core cast in order to do this.
A movie adaptation of The Stand was in development hell for 10 years. During the '80s Stephen King had planned a theatrical film, with George A. Romero directing and himself writing, not trusting somebody else with the project. However writing a workable screenplay proved difficult, due to the novel's length. King talked about adapting it for television but was informed that the television networks did not "want to see the end of the world, particularly in prime time." Eventually King allowed screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg, who was a fan of The Stand, to write his own adaptation on the novel. Pallenberg's script would clock the film in at close to three hours while still staying true to the novel. Everyone liked the script; however, just as it was about to finally come together, Warner Brothers backed out of the project.
ABC eventually offered Stephen King the chance to make The Stand into a 6-hour miniseries for television. King wrote a new screenplay (toned down for television). The miniseries was broadcast in 1994, directed by Mick Garris and starring such actors as Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer, Laura San Giacomo, Ossie Davis, Shawnee Smith and Ed Harris.
In January 2011, it was announced that Warner Bros. and CBS Films will be developing a feature length film adaptation of The Stand. There is currently no official release date. In July 2011 it was reported that the film may be a trilogy, and that David Yates is considering directing. On August 10, Warner Bros. has finalized the deal for Yates and Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves to re-team for a multi-movie version of The Stand. However, in October of 2011, it was reported that both Yates and Kloves had left the project due to Yates feeling the project would work better as a miniseries and that actor/direcor Ben Affleck was Warner Bros. new choice for the project. 
Marvel Comics is adapting The Stand into a series of six, five issue comic book miniseries. The series is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins. Colorist Laura Martin, letterer Chris Eliopoulos and cover artist Lee Bermejo are also confirmed to be on the staff. The first issue of The Stand: Captain Trips was released on September 10, 2008.
Progressive rock band Shadow Circus has created a series of songs about the main events in The Stand, and in whole the tracks come to a full 33-minute progressive rock epic titled "Project Blue". The tracks can be found on their latest CD Whispers and Screams and the track listing can be found in the audio portion of their website.
A soundtrack to the mini-series was released at the same time of the ABC special four night broadcast. It contains the instrumental guitar music and orchestrations of "Snuffy" Walden and other artists.
In 1983, the alternative rock band The Alarm released the song, "The Stand," with lyrics directly inspired by the novel. The lyrics follow the travels of Randall Flagg, in much the same way The Rolling Stones had "Sympathy For The Devil."
- Earth Abides, an early post-apocalyptic novel which inspired King.
- The Dark Tower series. The concept of the villain Flagg as an extradimensional evil or Antichrist figure, capable of appearing in multiple later works of fiction by King, was introduced in The Stand.
- The Lord of the Rings, the epic fantasy trilogy that also inspired King. He said he wanted to recreate this with "an American setting."
- Swan Song, a later work of post-apocalyptic fiction by Robert R. McCammon that owes much to The Stand.
- ^ a b King: Marvel to Adapt The Stand as a graphic novel, Newsarama, March 17, 2008
- ^ "1979 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1979. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- ^ King used the Hemingford, NE for both novels, The Stand, and It, America's heartland location for Mother Abigail. The Denver Post, USA Weekend, March 19–20, 2010, usaweekend.com, page 2.
- ^ Stephen King used the town Hemingford, NE for both novels, The Stand, and It, America's heartland location for Mother Abagail. The Denver Post, USA Weekend, March 19, 2010, usaweekend.com, Who's News, by Patsy Parkin, page 2.
- ^ Alissa Stickler, The (Mid)Evil Nightmare of Yesterday and Tomorrow: Flagg as the Immortal Monster in Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon and The Stand," in: The Year's Work of Medievalism 15 (2002), ed. Jesse Swan and Richard Utz.
- ^ King, Stephen. Stephen King's Danse Macabre. Berkeley Trade. p. 370. ISBN 042518160X.
- ^ King, Stephen. "Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition: The Inspiration". http://www.stephenking.com/library/novel/stand:_the_complete__uncut_edition_the_inspiration.html. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- ^ On Writing, Stephen King, 2000.
- ^ http://www.subcin.com/risefallstand.html
- ^ "Stephen King's 'The Stand' Heading to the Big Screen (Exclusive)". http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/heat-vision/stephen-kings-stand-heading-big-94805.
- ^ What Is Warner Bros. Planning to Replace the Harry Potter Cash Cow?
- ^ 
- ^ http://whatculture.com/film/david-yates-says-hes-not-making-the-stand-because-it-should-be-tv-mini-series.php
- ^ Tim Stevens (2008-05-31). "Wizard World Philadelphia 2008: Stephen King's The Stand". news. Marvel.com. http://marvel.com/news/comicstories.3768.WW_Philly_2008%7Ecolon%7E_The_Stand. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- ^ http://www.shadowcircusmusic.com/audio
- The Stand publication history at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Bookpoi - How to identify first edition copies of The Stand by Stephen King.
- The Stand at Worlds Without End
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
- The Red
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