Pet Sematary Themes and Analysis đź“–

Stephen King’s 1983 novel ‘Pet Sematary’ is considered a horror classic, and for good reason. It’s a chilling story that deals with themes of death, loss, and grief. 

Pet Sematary

Stephen King

The novel features one family’s struggle with death, especially after the death of their pet cat— Church, and later the death of their son, Gage. King uses numerous literary devices, like foreshadowing, to make the book feel suspenseful and exciting. The novel has been adapted a few different times, something that has only increased the book’s readership.

Themes

Here are three of the most important themes in Stephen King’s classic horror novel, ‘Pet Sematary.’

Mortality

Pet Sematary‘ explores the concept of mortality in a variety of ways. The primary focus is on the Creed family, who suffer a devastating loss when their young son Gage is killed by a speeding truck. 

The traumatic events that follow force the family to confront their own mortality and the impermanence of life. Stephen King also shows how death can be a powerful motivator for the living, whether it’s driving the Creeds to make choices they would never have made before or motivating Louis to make the same mistakes multiple times.

Grief and Loss

Pet Sematary‘ follows the Creed family as they struggle to come to terms with the sudden loss of their son. Louis and Rachel both experience tremendous grief over Gage’s death, and this grief drives Louis to take desperate measures in order to try and bring him back. 

Stephen King illustrates how grief can manifest itself in different ways, from denial to irrational anger, and how it can drive people to do things they would never normally consider.

The Supernatural

Pet Sematary‘ features an ancient burial ground that has the power to bring animals and people back from the dead. While this supernatural power initially seems like a blessing, it quickly turns into a curse as those brought back are not quite the same as they were before. 

This raises the question of whether or not it is ever wise to mess with forces beyond our understanding. In addition, Stephen King also examines how fear and superstition can shape our perceptions and choices.

Key Moments in Pet Sematary

  1. The Creed family moves into their new home.
  2. They learn about the “Sematary” and the dangers the highway poses. 
  3. A young man at Louis’ school dies, and Louis has a dream about him. 
  4. Norma, Jud’s wife, has a heart attack, and Louis helps. 
  5. Jud takes Louis to the “real cemetery” after Church is hit by a car and helps him bury the cat. 
  6. Church comes back but is unpleasant and fierce. 
  7. Gage is hit by a car on the highway, and Louis buries him in the cemetery. 
  8. Gage comes back to life, as Church did, and is not at all himself.
  9. Gage kills Rachel and Jud, and Louis is forced to kill his son and Church, who also poses a danger to the remaining family members.
  10. Louis takes Rachel to the cemetery and buries her, hoping she’ll come back as her normal self. 
  11. Rachel returns in the last paragraphs of the novel and places her hand on Louis’ shoulder. 


Tone and Style

The tone of Stephen King’s novel ‘Pet Sematary‘ is one of horror and dread. From the beginning of the novel, there is a sense of impending doom that lurks in the shadows. The tone is dark and heavy, with many moments of tension and suspense. It is a novel that explores the supernatural and human mortality in an intense and frightening way.

The style of ‘Pet Sematary‘ is primarily one of realism, with a mixture of surrealism. The events within the novel, while supernatural, still feels grounded in reality. Stephen King’s writing brings to life a world filled with horrors beyond imagination, but it also gives us a deep insight into human nature. Stephen Kings’ storytelling techniques create a sense of realism that is both haunting and immersive.

Symbols

Resurrection 

One of the major symbols in ‘Pet Sematary‘ is that of resurrection. The idea of death and being brought back to life is a theme that appears multiple times throughout the novel. Readers see this with Church the cat, who is killed and then brought back to life by the Sematary. Readers experience this again with Gage Creed, Louis’s son, who is killed and then brought back to life. In both cases, they come back as something that is not what they were before and symbolizes the idea of resurrection and its consequences. 

The Burial Ground 

The burial ground itself is another key symbol in ‘Pet Sematary.’ It serves as a portal between life and death, where those buried in the ground can be returned from the dead. It’s a place of dark power and a reminder of the mortality of life and the potential for resurrection. This symbolizes a sort of immortality and power over life and death. 

The Road 

The road that runs in front of the Creed family home is a terrifying symbol of death. There have been more than a few pets killed on the road, and sadly, it also takes the life of Creed’s son, Gage. 

FAQs

What kind of novel is Pet Sematary? 

Pet Sematary‘ is a horror novel written by Stephen King and first published in 1983. It follows the story of a family who moves to a rural area near a pet cemetery and uncovers supernatural powers. 

What genre is Pet Sematary? 

The genre of the novel is horror, as it deals with themes of death and the supernatural. The book features several traumatizing moments in the lives of the Creed family that change them forever. 

When was Pet Sematary written?

Pet Sematary‘ was published in 1983 and has been adapted for film and television multiple times since then. Its believed that King finished the first draft of the manuscript in the late 70s. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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