Gerald's Game


Gerald's Game

infobox Book |
name = Gerald's Game
title_orig =
translator =


image_caption = First edition cover
author = Stephen King
cover_artist = Rob Wood
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Horror novel
publisher = Viking Press
release_date = May 1992
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 332 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-670-84650-3
preceded_by = Needful Things
followed_by = Dolores Claiborne

"Gerald's Game" (1992) is a novel by Stephen King. Unlike most of King's work there is almost no hint of the supernatural. Instead, the story explores a woman's repressed sexual memories and resulting unhappy marriage, culminating in a horrific near-death experience.

Plot summary

The story begins with Jessie Burlingame and her husband Gerald in the bedroom of their solitary cabin in western Maine, where they have gone for an off-beat romantic weekend. Gerald, a successful lawyer with an aggressive personality, has been able to reinvigorate the couple's sex life by handcuffing Jessie to the bed. Jessie has been into the game before, but suddenly balks. As Gerald starts to crawl on top of her, pretending that her protests are fake (no "safe word"), she kicks him hard in the groin, causing him to have a fatal heart attack.

Jessie is alone in the cabin and unable to move or summon help. There is nothing to do but see if anyone shows up.

The only things that do show up is a hungry stray dog that starts feeding on Gerald's body and an unpleasant, deformed apparition that may or may not be real; Jessie begins to think of this bizarre visitor as "The Space Cowboy" (after a line from a Steve Miller song, "The Joker"). A combination of panic and thirst eventually causes Jessie to hallucinate. She hears voices in her head, each one ostensibly the voice of people in her life, primarily Ruth Neary (an old college friend) and Nora Callighan (her ex-psychiatrist), both of whom Jessie hasn't spoken to in decades. These voices represent different parts of her personality which help her extract a painful childhood memory she has kept suppressed for all these years. She was sexually abused by her father at age ten during a solar eclipse that occurred in her Maine hometown. She also begins to realize how unhappy her marriage was, and that she sacrificed the life she wanted for the security of Gerald's paycheck.

This internal dialogue is mixed with descriptions of Jessie's more and more desperate attempts to get out of the handcuffs. Finally she does escape after one of the voices in her head tells her that if she stays another night, The Space Cowboy will more than likely take a part of her to add to its trophy "Fishing Creel" filled with jewelry and human bones. Jessie escapes by slicing her arm open all the way around on a broken glass and then using the blood and the medical procedure of "degloving" to escape.

The story cuts to months later with Jessie recuperating from the incident and being looked after by a nurse. An ambitious law associate of her husband's assists her in covering up the real incident, as well as assisting her in her recuperation. At the end, we get to read the letter that Jessie writes to one of the people she heard in her head, detailing what happened after the incident and her recuperation process, which is slow but very meaningful. One of the passages in the letter revolves around a serial necrophiliac and murderer making his way through Maine, and how he might relate to the Space Cowboy. The novel even mentions what became of the stray dog that gnawed on Gerald. The dog is shot and killed. Its owner had abandoned it in Maine and driven back to Massachusetts, simply because he didn't want to pay for the dog's license.

The only true supernatural event in the story occurs as described during one of Jessie's flashbacks, when, during a particularly stressful incident at the time of childhood, she has a waking dream.

Connection to King's other works

In King's subsequent novel "Dolores Claiborne", it is revealed that the main character, Dolores, has a telepathic connection with Jessie Burlingame on two occasions, during the solar eclipse, when Jessie is assaulted, and later when she is handcuffed to the bed. The two novels were initially conceived to be part of a single volume, titled "In the Path of the Eclipse". Later editions of "Dolores Claiborne" have a foreword that explains the connection between the two.

There is also a mention of sheriff Alan Pangborn near the end of the novel.Pangborn first appeared in King's novel "The Dark Half".

In the later King novel "Lisey's Story", Lisey often refers to the unbalanced fans her husband's horror novels have created as "Space Cowboys".

ee also

* Solar eclipses in fiction
* List of books portraying paedophilia or sexual abuse of minors


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