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Greed in "Pet Sematary"

Updated on June 2, 2014

Stephen King has come to be regarded as a master of horror in the world of popular literature, and he lives up to this expectation with Pet Sematary. His story of Louis Creed, a father who becomes consumed with an insatiable obsession over his son's death, strikes terror in the hearts of readers with descriptions of the ancient Micmac burial grounds. Creed experiences the eerie power that the novel attributes to this Indian tribe, a strange force of resurrection that brings his daughter's cat back from the grave. Though Jud warns him that "...the ground had gone sour", Louis becomes consumed with the idea of the ability to cheat death after his son's accident. His selfish greed to have Gage back in his arms overwhelms him like "[madness] all around, close, hunting him"; he is overtaken by his sorrow and ignores Jud's warnings. Louis Creed's feelings of grief and helplessness lead him to succumb to the addictive forces of greed and the abuse of an immense power.

"...here was Gage at last...his lips pulled back in a hellish grin"
"...here was Gage at last...his lips pulled back in a hellish grin"

The Obsession

After Gage's death, Louis becomes obsessed with self-blame, knowing that the accident was something that could have been prevented. Though Jud warns him that the place is an evil one, Louis finds himself "...thinking about things that are not to be thought of...The idea had a deadly attraction. It made a balance of logic that was impossible to deny". The burial ground lures him in, and he becomes consumed with its incredible power. He knows that he has, in his grasp, the power to bring his son back from the dead, and "...that's about as close to playing God as you can get". His grief becomes overwhelming and his defenses weaken so much that he finds it harder and harder to resist temptation.

Though Louis finds himself driven by his broken heart, Jud's words remain in his conscience warning him that "...[each] buries his own...A man grows what he can...and he tends it". Even though Creed knows that whatever grows out of that grave is his, his grief would not let go; "...he was lost in shock" and mesmerized by the awesome power at his hands. Again, he finds himself helpless, but this time, he is helpless to save himself. Whatever the Micmacs send him is his; he has bought it, just as he had bought the family cat. His greed is leading him on a spending spree that he cannot afford. Then "...here was Gage at last, his mouth smeared with blood, his chin dripping, his lips pulled back in a hellish grin", and it was all because "[what] you buy is what you own".

After killing the abomination that has returned in Gage's place, Creed's "...grief came for him fully...It came and dissolved him, [and] unmanned him" completely. That creature from the dead, that one that he owned, killed his wife and Louis knows what went wrong. "'I waited too long with Gage,' [he] said. 'Something got into him because I waited too long. But it will be different with Rachel'". Louis is insane with grief and the greed of love for his family. He wants to make it all better again, and he believes that he has the power to do it. However, his sorrow blinds him to the horrible truth, and he is again enticed by the strange power attributed to the Micmac Indians.

Creed's "...grief came for him fully...It came and dissolved him, [and] unmanned him" completely.
Creed's "...grief came for him fully...It came and dissolved him, [and] unmanned him" completely.

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The Conclusion

Louis Creed discovers a force so powerful that it could cheat death, it could bring a mortal man "...about as close to playing God as you can get". The kind of power in the Micmac burial ground is something not meant to be tampered with, something not meant to slip into the hands of grief stricken men blinded by their own love and grief for their losses. Death brings a feeling of helplessness, and it takes root in the broken hearts of the bereaved, but "...what death really is...is where the pain stops and the good memories begin. Not the end of life but the end of pain". The addictive power of the Micmac Indians preyed on Louis' grief and allowed him to fall victim to his greed, his greed to buy life from the hands of death. But his greed got the best of him and he overspent, learning that "[what] you buy is your own, and sooner or later what you own will come back to you".

© 2014 SLGraham

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