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"The Reach" by Stephen King
Transcript of "The Reach" by Stephen King
The Yellow Wallpaper
Even though she is on a remote island; she isn’t completely isolated. Stella is also free to come and go as she pleases…
“No, I’ve never felt I needed to leave the island. My life was here.” – page 391
… Unlike Jane in the Yellow Wallpaper and how she was trapped in the room and wasn’t able to leave
The Story of an Hour
"she could see the open square before her house the top tops of tree that were all a quiver with the new spring life"
it is springtime in the story of an hour. spring represents new begginings. "The Reach" takes place during a harsh winter while stella is preparing for the end of her life.
similar to the setting of "the Lottery" the setting of "the Reach" is a small community.
"The Reach" by Stephen King starts with Stella Flanders telling her great grand children about The Reach. Stella was born in 1884 and she was the oldest resident of Goat Island. In all of her years, Stella had never gone across The Reach to the mainland. It was a cold, harsh winter on Goat Island and death seemed to be a usual occurrence. She was plagued by the question "do you love?". Stella is slowly dying from cancer throughout the story. She is visited a few times by her husband Bill, who died of cancer 12 years ago. Bill coaxes her to cross over The Reach and onto the other side. She denies this journey to cross The Reach until she feels that she is ready. When she decides to cross to the other side, she is helped by the dead to find her way. Her question of "do you love?" is answered when her husband shows that the dead can love by giving her his hat to keep warm. Stellas son Alden finds her body with the Bill's hat. The story ends with the voices of the dead singing in the wind.
"The Reach" Summary
Goat Island is a remote island that is separated from the mainland by The Reach.
"That was the coldest February since the National Weather Service began keeping records, and by the middle of the month the ice covering the Reach was safe." p. 385
It was a cold harsh winter on Goat Island. The extreme weather is another gothic element.
Atmosphere of mystery
The Reach itself is a mystery. Stella tells her grandchildren "Reach is the water between the island and the mainland" p 381
"The Reach was wider in those days" p. 378
Stella was plagued by a mysterious questions including "do the dead sing?" and "do they love?"
The mystery of the Reach is uncovered at the end of the story when Bill and the other deceased help Stella cross over.
"The summer before she began to see ghosts" p 378
"As she reached the back door, where the sparrow had fallen, Bill spoke to her-but cancer had taken bill twelve years before. " p. 380
Bills ghost always spoke to Stella about crossing the Reach
"Stella looked over and there sat Bill Flanders in his red-and-black-checked jacket, hat cocked to one side, smoking a Herbert Tareyton with another tucked behind his wear for later. She felt her heart leap into her chest and choke between beats. She made noise, but just then a knot popped like a rifle shot in the stove, and neither of the other ladies heard." p382
"She saw Bill four times" p. 386
When Stella crosses the reach she is accompanied by the dead.
"It was Annabelle; even in this snowy gloom Stella recognized the yellow dress Annnabelle had worn to Stellas own wedding and as she struggled towards her dear friend holding Bills arm, she thought that she could smell roses" p. 395
Damsel in Distress
Stella Flanders strays from the typical Gothic female because she is not a damsel in distress. She is a strong woman who takes care of her grown son.
"Aiden aint but half bright, you know Stella pretty much runs him" p. 383
A typical Gothic female would have someone taking care of her. Even though Stella is sick she is very independent. Most gothic females would accept that cancer would kill them. Stella denies the cancer for a long time.
“Yes, she had eaten hearty, not because she wanted to, but because she believed (as many of her generation did) that if you fed the cancer it would leave you alone.” – p. 388
"One day in middle March, with the sky as white and lowering as a loss of memory, Stella Flanders sat in her kitchen for the last time , and laced up her boots over her skinny calves for the last time, and wrapped her bright red wollen scarf around her neck for the last time." p. 387
"He seemed to hear their voices and on these nights he sometimes slept and dreamed that he was singing at his own funeral." p396
"Stella opened the back door to get stovewood and discovered a dead sparrow on the back stoop." p. 380
Stella crossing the Reach is symbolic of
her leaving world and crossing over to the death.
Mocks & Resembles Religions
"She fell down for the first time some fifteen minutes after she began to notice the Days growing grayness." p. 393
"Ten minutes later (the gray was now deep and she found herself in some weird twilight of a heavy snowstorm) she fell again, tried to get up, failed at first, and finally managed to gain her feet" p. 393
"She stood at the window for a moment, looking out at the Reach, Bill was there as she suspected he might be standing about halfway between the island and the Head, standing on the Reach, just like Jesus out of the boat" p. 387
Bradley Maxwell was the owner of a ferry that transported people to the mainland. He is similar to Charon, who in Greek mythology was the boatman who brought people into the underworld.
1. How does the setting of "The Reach fit the gothic genre ?
2. What is the question that is plagueing stella?
3. What is Stella actually dying of?
4. whose spirit visits stella ? What does the spirit ask stella?
5. What is one difference between "The Reach" and "The Story of an Hour".
The Pillowman calls children to their deaths, just like the spirits due to Stella.
A Rose for Emily
Neither story was done in chronological order. Stella jumps from present time to the past just like Emily.
Emily and Stella both lost important male figures in their lives who should have been taking care of them.
"There were 95 candles on Stellas birthday cake" p379
"Stella opened the back door to get the stovewood and discovered a dead sparrow on the back stoop" p380
"a spasm of coughing shook her, and she spat bright red blood into the snow"p393
" Its alright Stella " Bill said. "You can wear mine." p394
"They stood in a circle in the night. The snow blew around them and they sang" p 396