Polly’s Lessons

For my write-up today on Stephen King’s Needful Things, I will focus on Polly Chalmer’s background.

Polly Chalmers had a baby out of wedlock, whom she named Kelton, and she became alienated from her parents on account of that.  As the book narrates, her parents said things that tore away the “last tenuous bridge” between them and their daughter.  But Polly still communicated with her parents via mail, for she felt that this interaction was less acrimonious than in-person interaction.  Right when Polly had finally qualified to receive state assistance, Polly’s child died in a fire while Polly was away at work, and that is a secret that Polly has been keeping from others (including her significant other, Alan, who knows that she is keeping a secret but is giving her the time and the space to reveal that secret to him in her good time).  But Polly’s parents also pass on—-her father due to cancer, and her mother due to a heart attack.  At her parents’ funeral, Polly’s eighty-eight year-old Aunt Evvie tells Polly: “Baby Kelton’s dead…but you’re not…So what are you going to do about it?”  Aunt Evvie exhorts Polly to let go of the ghosts of the past and to make a life for herself.  At the same time, while Aunt Evvie encourages Polly to feel free to go to new places, Aunt Evvie thinks that Polly will ultimately return to her hometown of Castle Rock and settle there, for Aunt Evvie feels that Polly was made for Castle Rock.

There’s a lot there—-about communicating and keeping in touch with people in a manner in which one is most comfortable, of being thankful to be alive and taking advantage of the life that one has, and of being made for a specific place, but returning there after seeing the world.  For the first issue, I like to communicate online, since I feel rather awkward in person.  At the same time, it’s not always easy for me to come up with things to say online.  I can’t just let the other person talk, as I can in person.  For the second issue, I should definitely enjoy the life that I have rather than beating myself up over anything that happened in the past.  I should learn from the past, but I shouldn’t allow the past to hinder my enjoyment of my life today.  For the third issue, I’ve lived in different places.  I can’t say that I was “made” for a specific place, though, including my hometown in Indiana.  Actually, I’d prefer not to live in the town where I grew up—-though, of course, it’s nice to visit my family there.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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