Last night, I read pages 812-822 of Stephen King’s The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition. I’m proceeding through the book slowly but surely!
In my reading yesterday, Nick, Stu, and Ralph hypnotize Tom Cullen so that he will go West to spy on Randall Flagg’s team. The actual hypnosis scene did not present Stu telling Tom what he should be looking for when spying, namely, missiles that Flagg might use to attack the Free Zone. But there were some interesting elements.
Tom is mildly developmentally-delayed. But his subconscious is able to make connections that his conscious level cannot make. That’s why, earlier in the book, he went into a trance before he learned that Nick was trying to communicate to him (Tom) that he (Nick) was a deaf-mute. Before the trance, Tom did not know what Nick was getting at. Afterwards, he did.
On the subconscious level, though, Tom is somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Stu compares that to when he was graduating from high school with people he had known since the first grade: Stu looked at their faces and realized that they were not the children they once were, and yet they were not adults, either. According to Stu, Tom’s subconscious was at that level—-permanently just short of adulthood.
And yet, Tom’s subconscious does not merely know how to make connections. Rather, it has an almost divine sort of knowledge. Unlike others, Tom has dreamed about seeing Randall Flagg’s face, whereas the others in the Free Zone have dreamed of Flagg but have never seen his face. Tom’s subconscious knows who Flagg is: a being from outside of time who knows magic and was the Legion whom Jesus exorcized from a demoniac in the Bible. Tom’s subconscious also knows that Mother Abagail (the prophetess of the Free Zone who has left) is alive, and what will happen to her in the future. On page 821, Nick says regarding Tom’s knowledge, “Some people through history have considered the insane and retarded to be close to divine.”
I’d like to comment on what Tom says about Flagg. In my post here, I say the following regarding Flagg:
“Chapter 23 is when we first meet Randall Flagg, the villain of the book. What I get about him so far is that he likes to incite political trouble, and he also gives people a bad feeling. What intrigued me was that page 183 says that Randall could not remember much before the 1960′s, except that he was from Nebraska and attended high school. So Randall Flagg, as powerful as he may be, may not have lived for a long time as IT did, nor does he seem to view himself as eternal.”
Actually, the issue is more complicated than I thought. Flagg has lived for a very long time, but he does not remember too far back. For example, on page 1152, after Flagg has supposedly died, he appears in a jungle and does not recall who he is—-though he later identifies himself to the inhabitants as Russell Faraday and realizes he is on a mission. Some have tried to identify Randall Flagg with Andre Linoge in Storm of the Century, since both cause trouble, both have lived a long time, and both are Legion (see here for other reasons). But I thought that Linoge lived for a long time and knew he had lived for a long time—-meaning his memory goes back a while. But Flagg’s memory only goes back to the 1960’s.