I recently re-read Pet Sematary, and because I'm so dim-witted and have way too much time on my hands, I guess it took me a long time to notice something about the novel that others have probably already noticed: that Jud, perhaps years before the novel even begins, had buried Norma in the Indian burial ground and that she, for some reason that even Jud doesn't know, comes back like Jud's dog Spot - relatively normal but "kind of - dead." Anyway, I've definitely come to realize that this novel is as much, if not more, about the Jud Crandall character as it is about the Louis Creed character.
I suppose this would make sense, although it's doubtful that this is what King himself had in mind, since he wrote the screenplay for the film and didn't include the Norma character. But if this interpretation is correct, then it actually would address several questions about this fantastic novel that I've already had:
* When Norma is alive in the novel, she isn't really mentioned all that much or included in the scenes, except for the Halloween episode. Whenever Jud talks about her, he kind of talks about her as if she's a memory.
* Whenever she's described in the novel, she's described as if she's some sort of walking corpse. In the Halloween episode, when she reaches down to get candy to give to Ellie, Louis is "shocked at how clawlike that hand looked." The last time Louis sees her alive, "she had a pale and somehow transparent look that he had seen before." These are just two out of many examples of the somewhat morbid descriptions of Norma when she's alive in the novel. At first I thought it was to emphasize that Norma is elderly and suffers from arthritis, but now I think King is hinting at something more.
* Jud spends his evenings sitting on his porch drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. At first I thought that this is just what he did to hang out and chill at night. But then I started thinking there is a parallel to how Jud and his friends found Bill Baterman after his son, Timmy, comes back to life: sitting on his back porch smoking cigerettes and drinking beer. I'm thinking that there must be some sort of parallel there.
* Jud does cry after Norma dies, but he reaqlly takes her death as almost matter-of-factly. Perhaps he sees her death in the same way as Rachel saw Zelda's death? That he was almost in a way glad that she died so he doesn't have to live with her anymore?
* Jud references several times in the novel that he had gone to see prostitutes, and I always wondered why that is oft referenced. While he still loves his wife, perhaps he saw prostitutes because he knows he's living with a corpse and doesn't want to make love to her?
* I believe that it's obvious in the novel that Jud knows something more about the Indian burial ground that he and King let on. Perhaps Jud, again, for reasons that he doesn't even know, somehow discovered the secrets of the burial ground when nobody else could. He was, after all, able to bring his dog Spot back in a "dead-like" but relatively normal state, while old man Hanratty's bull comes back mean.
* Everyone else in Ludlow that Jud once knew is either dead or has left town. Why is Jud the only one who didn't leave? Could it be because he somehow made a deal with whatever it is that controls the burial ground to, perhaps, "watch over the burial ground?"
* If Jud knows the indian burial ground is so evil, why does he introduce it to Louis in the first place? The reason has to go beyond simply that Jud didn't want Ellie to experience death and loss that early in her life. Perhaps Jud is trying to groom Louis to replace him as the 'caretaker.' so to speak, of the burial ground?
* When Jud and his friends confront Bill and Timmy Baterman, Jud tells Louis about all of the evil stuff that the Timmy thing said to his friends, but he refuses to tell Louis specifically about what timmy told him? Perhaps Timmy tells Jud something to the effect of, "you see my father, Jud? You're going to be suffering the same fate."
* When Gage comes back from the dead and confronts Jud, it says, "You f%$#ed with me once, didn't you think I'd come back sooner or later and f%!k with you?" (Sorry Ms. Mod, I'm just quoting form the novel!). The Gage thing has every opportunity to kill Louis immediately after it comes back from the burial gorund, but doesn�t. The first person the Gage thing goes after with an almost venomous fury is Jud. I always thought it was because of the Timmy Baterman incident, but I think it goes beyond that. Perhaps the demon that controls the burial gorund looks at Jud in the same way that the demon in "The Exorcist" views the elderly Father Merrin: as the only person who has ever beaten it. Again, Jud is the only one who seems to have ever used the burial ground to bring anything back from the dead that isn�t evil. Maybe this upsets the demon and it wants revenge?
* Jud sues a lot of clandestine slogans, such as �A man�s heart is stonier,� �What you buy is what you own, and what you own sooner or later comes back to you,� etc. Perhaps Jud is talking more about himself then he is about Louis?
Anyway, I could be wrong, and this is just food for thought. Sorry for taking up so much space, but what do you think?
To me, an interesting follow up to the original PS would actually be a prequel. Perhaps the story of Jud Crandall? Also, while the movie makes it clear that Louis is killed in the end by the resurrected Rachel, the novel certainly does not. It would be interesting to see what happens, if King is ever declined to write a sequel.
I find the theory that Norma was a "revenant" of the MicMac burial ground intriguing--it definitely made me stop and think. While I don't believe that she was (it seems there would have been more of a nod to this somehow, like an acknowledgement from the Gage-thing in regard to a Norma-thing, and I remember a pretty striking description of Norma's funeral as beautifully "natural," seeming to cement her place in the Pet Sematary universe as fully and legitimately "alive" until her ordinary death), the notion that she was secretly resurrected is chilling and evocative.
Some may agree, some may not, but either way, this illuminates the mystery surrounding not only Ludlow and the MicMac burial ground, but Jud Crandall himself. What, indeed, was that trip "12 years ago" to the burial ground all about? Was Norma really a shameless (forgive the word) whore who cheated behind Jud's back, as the Gage-thing suggests? And the Crandalls seem not to have had children. This isn't weird in itself, but why is it never acknowledged in any way? This is a curious omission which makes that "burning" question all the more powerful and haunting. There is sometimes more power in the absence of a thing than its being in front of you manifestly. I've no idea whether this was intentional or not on King's part; either way it's a fascinating literary device which has served him well.
The book is full of mystery, which is why it is my favorite King novel (of those I've read so far). If I had the chance, I would interview Stephen King for two hours about this work alone.
This is a fantastic post, well thought out and raises some interesting questions that I have't thought of before. I found Pet Semetary horrifying and gut wrenching but after reading your post I am starting re-read. Thank you!
Interesting points indeed. Sounds almost like King was developing a subplot there, then either dropped it, or forgot about it. Like ol' Jellbean said above, I may have to start myself yet ANOTHER re-read of this book. It's one of my faves, anyhoo.
I agree this was an interesting, well-thought out idea that I'd never considered when I read Pet Semetery. I may not myself believe that Norma was resurrected, but it doesn't stop the original poster from coming up with a cool concept.
That's an interesting idea; one that I'll keep in mind next time I reread the book. It certainly makes a lot of sense. I wonder if Steve intended to imply that Norma had been resurected or did the story take on a reality on its own, allowing the reader interpret things differently from what the author intended.
I hadn't really considered the idea of a resurrected Norma, but your post is well thought out with several good points made. The other day, I made a mention in the sequels/prequels thread that a Pet Semetary prequel might be interesting. I was thinking of the origins of the cemetery, and a bit about Jud's experience with it, but I never thought about Norma. I currently have four novels I'm sitting down to the for the first time (Yay book sales!): Under the Dome, which had to sit through my reading of the DT, Lisey's Story, which I'm starting today, the Tommyknockers, and the Dark Half, and I've been planning a re-read of Duma Key, (not to mention getting around to a re-reading of the Stand and the Shining), but Pet Semetary just made my re-read list. Curse you Stephen King, for writing so much excellent fiction!
I had this idea myself while reading the book, but I think the fact that Norma doesn't reek of the grave shows that King didn't explicitly mean to indicate that she was resurrected. I think he definitely means for us to wonder about it though, given all the excellent points outlined in the OP.