Nick


Did King go 'over-the-top' with how he presented Nick Andros? By this I mean did he portray Nick in a realistic manner in regard to his disability? If the situation in The Stand (or another such catastrophe were to happen in real life) would someone like Nick get the respect that he got? Would he be made a leader?

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There was a gentleman on the old IMDb forum who took SK to task for the idea that Nick would be picked-on because of his disability. Such things, he assured us, did not happen and King was wrong for saying that they did.

Judging from my own experiences (I have a mild case of cerebral palsy and a serious hearing impairment) I was forced to disagree with him and nothing, including telling him of things that I experienced, would change his mind.

Having said this, I stand by what I said in that thread, long deleted. Nick's treatment by King was not realistic and he would not be made a leader.

Thoughts?

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If I recall, in the book Mother Abagail, once she was dying, said she always believed that Nick would be the one to lead, but his death changed that.

Since it was Mother Abagail who had the most confidence in Nick (as well as Tom) I can see the others going along with anyone she had faith in, even if they themselves had doubts about it.

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If I recall, in the book Mother Abagail, once she was dying, said she always believed that Nick would be the one to lead, but his death changed that.

Since it was Mother Abagail who had the most confidence in Nick (as well as Tom) I can see the others going along with anyone she had faith in, even if they themselves had doubts about it.
Yeah, I pretty much go along with this, especially after the arrival in Boulder.

And with Tom, Nick was treated all right as well. There, at least Tom knew that nick was more capable of leading and he gave the role to Nick, at least while they were by themselves. That I could see, but before they got to Mother Abagail's I have the impression that Nick was in charge of the group including Ralph and Dick Ellis. And Dick, being a veterinarian, was intelligent so I would think that he would assume the leadership role to Nick. This was not realistic. Apart from other factors such as the lingering prejudice, his hampered ability to communicate would be a factor.

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In real life, I have never seen a deaf-mute person picked on for their condition, and I have never seen a deaf-mute person rise to a position of leadership, either.

With all due respect, might I suggest that the more readily apparent symptoms of cerebral palsy are what prompted mean-spirited, small-minded persons to pick on you, rather than your hearing impairment?

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In real life, I have never seen a deaf-mute person picked on for their condition, and I have never seen a deaf-mute person rise to a position of leadership, either.

With all due respect, might I suggest that the more readily apparent symptoms of cerebral palsy are what prompted mean-spirited, small-minded persons to pick on you, rather than your hearing impairment?
Agree for the most part, but my hearing has also been a factor in how I was treated.

It is much much better that it was. Much better.

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> There was a gentleman on the old IMDb forum who took SK to task for the idea that Nick would be picked-on because of his disability. [...] I was forced to disagree with him and nothing, including telling him of things that I experienced, would change his mind.

I'd go along with you 100% on this. Being different puts one at hazard of being harassed, etc. Creating outcasts seems to be part of the human condition. As someone else put it:

What Christ should have said was “Yea, verily, whenever two or three of you are gathered together, some other guy is going to get the living shit knocked out of him.” Shall I tell you what sociology teaches us about the human race? I’ll give it to you in a nutshell. Show me a man or woman alone and I’ll show you a saint. Give me two and they’ll fall in love. Give me three and they’ll invent the charming thing we call “society.” Give me four and they’ll build a pyramid. Give me five and they’ll make one an outcast. Give me six and they’ll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they’ll reinvent warfare.


> Having said this, I stand by what I said in that thread, long deleted. Nick's treatment by King was not realistic and he would not be made a leader.

In a normal world, with a large group, I agree. Leaders with disabilities (e.g., FDR, JFK, Hitler) have gone to great lengths to hide them. There's a reason for that.

In this case, though, it's a very small group. When the committee was formed, Boulder had less that a thousand people. I suppose it might be different if most or nearly all the citizens had got the chance to meet Nick et al first hand?

I'm not saying I disagree with you, but the lack of realism here is something I can shrug off. What bothered me more was that four of the committee are under 30. I don't think that would happen in real life. With age comes maturity, wisdom, and experience. But of course my "small group" argument applies here too.

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* SPOILERS * I am so glad you posted this! I watched this movie yesterday (and I've been a fan of the book forever). The thing I asked myself as I was watching it this time was, why were these people "called" to lead by Mother Abigail? And I think Nick, Tom, Larry, etc. were picked specifically because they had disabilities and flaws. My thought is that Stephen King was creating these characters to be like a lot of Biblical figures who were very ill-equipped to lead. Based on what I've read, in the Bible, God often called on the "meek" because they would be less self-centered and less likely to assert themselves for their own good; and they would be more likely to submit to doing the will of God. I totally forgot about how Nick couldn't talk, but Tom could hear him in his dreams; and I also forgot about how Randall Flagg could hear and see what others were doing, but he couldn't read Tom's thoughts because of his disability. It's such a masterful story!! Every time I read it or watch it, I can't stop thinking about it for days!

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King has a penchant for lifting up people that most would think of as disadvantaged. The disabled, racial minorities, etc. The problem is that he often does so in ways that might make others think of them as super-human. I'm disabled myself, having cerebral palsy and a serious hearing impairment. In addition to that, I broke my arm a couple of days ago and I'm typing this with one hand. Prejudice against us is still strong,, but it is getting much better than it was in the 50's and the 60's.

My concern is that King may mythologize both their level of acceptance and what the disabled can actually do.

I am a writer and I tend to be more realistic in how my disabled characters are portrayed and the level of acceptance that they face. One character--modeled after myself--is treated by another character as though he were mentally retarded, with a major impact on the rest of the story.

King is a great writer, one that I greatly admire, even though he tends to be somewhat sloppy, and "The Stand" is my favorite by far. I've read the book at least 25 times, and I just got through with it once more. The 1994 miniseries is very frequently watched on DVD and now blu-ray.

I recognize the Nick was chosen by God and his position in the Zone is largely determined by that, but King's portrayal of Nick and others still concerns me.

You're right: it is a masterful story and one of my all-time favorites by any writer..

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> I broke my arm a couple of days ago

Ouch!

> and I'm typing this with one hand.

Understood. I broke a couple of bones in my left hand about a year ago, so I get it. At least I'm right handed, so it was my stupid hand and not my smart hand that got clobbered; still, doing things one handed is a pain in the derriere.

> The problem is that [King] often [lifts up the disadvantaged] in ways that might make others think of them as super-human.

I've read a fair amount of King's work, but most of it was a long time ago. I'm one of those who think he hit his peak in the early 1980s and has been slipping downhill ever since. But that's another topic.

Point it, I don't remember a lot of what I did read. I've been trying to recall the books and stories I did read, but there are some that I can't recall anything about -- plot, characters, etc.

Can you give some examples of what you're referring to? Given your current impairment, be as brief as you like, just name of the work and the character if you wish -- if it's something I've read it's quite likely I'll immediately react, "oh yeah, that guy."

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In reply to the esteemed Mr Schmidt

Looked in the first 'goofs' thread and found this. I was responding to a question about whether I related to Nick.

I do relate to Nick somewhat, but with certain reservations. King has a soft spot if I might use that term for people who are disadvantaged. He favors racial minorities, older people, those who are disabled, and those who are outcasts for whatever reason. This, while it is commendable, often shows itself in ways that are not entirely realistic. Here, I am not just referring to The Stand, but other works such as Carrie, It, The Shining, Cycle of the Werewolf and Dreamcatcher. King's problem is that he quite often overdoes it. By presenting these characters as larger than life, or as having extraordinary abilities, he may be creating expectations among the able-bodied that cannot be fulfilled. For example, going by my own experience, I think that making Nick a leader was extremely unrealistic, and even he (that is, Nick) knew it. Making Tom, who was mentally retarded, Stu's instrument of salvation was another such moment. Likewise with Mother Abagail. In Dreamcatcher, Duddits saves the day, and the Loser's Club in It triumphs over all. In Carrie, you have the victim/heroine giving the villains their just desserts and The Shining (and The Stand) has a old Black person as one of the main 'good guys' (I have heard them and other of King's Black characters referred to as 'magical Negroes'). In Cycle of the Werewolf, later made into the movie Silver Bullet, the young hero is in a wheelchair.

Harold Lauder, in The Stand, and Carrietta White in Carrie, are very well-written characters. In fact, they are so well-written that I wonder if King was not writing about his own experiences growing up. In The Pale Horse, one of the characters is loosely modeled after me.

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Sorry for the delay, I had a family matter to attend to. But it did give me the chance to muse over some things. I haven't read Dreamcatcher or Werewolf but have read the others you mention.

I was only thinking of people who are disadvantaged from birth, e.g., being in a minority race (e.g., Mother Abagail) or congenitally disabled (e.g., Tom Cullen). I wasn't thinking at all of people like Carrie White or the Losers Club in It.

Earlier you said King mythologizes their level of acceptance. It seems to me that the Losers Club members were not accepted by their schoolmates; that's why they banded together. Dick Halloran in The Shining seems like a normal enough guy, at least in terms of his outward personality, and I'd have to think he's about as accepted as any average guy is. In pre-plague life Nick was assaulted, and there are hints that Tom was the town joke. And poor Carrie White and Trashcan Man had no friends at all. On the other hand ...

Post-plague, things change. I don't doubt that Tom and Nick would find *some* people who accept them under any circumstances. But both they and Trash seem to be nearly universally accepted; and in Tom's case that happens in both Boulder and Vegas. I wrote about this in my reply to Moonglum9, just below here in this thread, so I won't repeat the comments here but will just invite you to read them.

It's been quite a while since I last read The Stand, so I pulled up the Kindle edition and did some searches. I had forgotten that Nick's elevation to leader preceded his being placed on the committee, but instead began the moment he and Tom started meeting others on the way west. At one point he muses that it's "like a bad joke" and that Dick Ellis should have been in charge of their little group.

(continued below)

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OK, on that one I agree with you; that *is* very unrealistic. Once they get to Boulder it's a somewhat different matter, I think; it's becoming clear to everyone that Nick and the other six have been chosen in some way. It doesn't bother me that much, I guess, because the world's already gone weird (dreams, etc) and in a weird world, weird things are gonna happen.

You mentioned Magic Negroes. My definition is a pretty narrow one: a Black supporting character who has some special attribute (not necessarily supernatural) by virtue of being Black and who personally intervenes, at far greater cost than benefit to himself, to solve a significant problem that a White protagonist could not, then gets out of the way so the White can still be the hero of the story -- and where there is no legitimate literary justification (e.g., symbolism).

That may be overly narrow, but that's my take on it. At the other extreme are some like to scream "racism!" at any opportunity. And I think that because of those, King is accused of writing Magic Negroes far more than he deserves. I'll add in two other examples King gets accused of, John Coffey in The Green Mile, and Ellis Redding in The Shawshank Redemption. Personally, I don't think any of the ones you and I have mentioned qualify as Magic Negroes, except one -- Mother Abagail, who I'm sad to say, fits to a tee. All just MHO, and worth probably what you're paying for it ...

Regarding Harold Lauder -- Looking back on my own teenage years, there were days when I was a prime jerk. I wasn't like that all of the time, or even most of the time. I don't think that teenaged Stephen King *was* Harold Lauder, but I've always suspected that he took his own worst days as a teen and made a full blown character out of them.

As for the idea of King making the disadvantaged have extraordinary abilities ... I'm still thinking that one over, and will have to defer commenting. You've raised some interesting questions for me and I thank you for that.

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I think if the plague was a random event, then the immune people would be made up of all types of people and the usual prejudices would assert themselves and Nick wouldn’t get good treatment. But since it was a cosmic good vs evil type struggle, I always had the idea that the Boulder group was made up of people of the best character that were chosen to survive, while the Las Vegas crew were made up of lowlifes (a few went to the wrong places, but they didn’t fit if they didn’t feel the call of Flagg or Mama A). If this is the case, then the Boulder group would be made up of primarily good people who would respect Nick as a person and treat him the same as everyone else

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Sorry for the delay, I had a family matter to attend to.

> I always had the idea that the Boulder group was made up of people of the best character that were chosen to survive, while the Las Vegas crew were made up of lowlifes

I think that's probably true at the extremes; the very best people are in Boulder, the very worst are in Vegas. But inbetween there's a lot of overlap. I wrote about this and some other things in this thread:

https://moviechat.org/tt0108941/The-Stand/5e65113f1f6810186ca30478/Question-about-Las-Vegas-scene

In particular, take a look at the boldfaced quotation near the bottom; Dayna's reaction to the people in Vegas. In particular, she considered Jenny Engstrom "best friend" material; the same Jenny who (as Lloyd tells Whitney elsewhere) got down on her knees and kissed Flagg's boots when they first met.

And Tom's reaction to Vegas was that "[t]he people were mostly nice, and some of them he liked every bit as well as the people in Boulder [...] No one made fun of him because he was slow."

No one? None at all? Even if that's not taken literally but instead to mean that very few mock him, that doesn't sound like a bunch of lowlifes, or even an average group; sounds like a much better than average bunch of people. And the same thing could be said of Vegas's treatment of Trash; he's treated far better than a psychotic would be, even in a society with more than its share of eccentrics, and when he finally freaks out it's not because he's treated cruelly but because he mistakes good-natured kidding for cruelty.

Sure there are Julie Lawrys in Vegas. But for every Julie there's also an Angie Hirschfield, who "hoped [four year old] Dinny would be at least thirty before he ever worked around to having [Julie] for a [babysitter]," or a Shirley Dunbar with a "gentle, uncomplaining nature."

And the folks in Boulder ain't all that great.

(continued below)

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When the committee discusses making Stu the marshal we learn a boy who raced a fast car around until he wrecked it, a drunk who went on a vandalism spree, and a man who beat up his cheating girlfriend and the dude she was cheating with.

Later, Fran commits breaking and entering twice; once solo, then with Larry. Stu should have arrested both of them for burglary and theft, but being new and self-taught at law enforcement, he can be forgiven; his failure to act was probably from ignorance instead of favoritism.

Charlie Impening left Boulder, but he wasn't the only one. Glen believed there were more "faces [he had] gotten used to seeing that just aren't around anymore." And we later learn from Paul Burlson that there were about a dozen who had tried Boulder, decided they didn't like it, and moved to Vegas.

It looks like the line between good and evil is razor thin, enough to make me wonder. Suppose that the four who rescued Danya from the rape gang were not Stu, Fran, Glen, and Harold, but instead Whitney Horgan, Jenny, Ronnie Sykes, and Heck Drogan? Would Dayna have ended up in Vegas instead of Boulder? I can't say it's impossible, in fact I can't even say it's highly unlikely.

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Fran and Larry found Harold's diary, and even though Harold was very careful with his words in his diary, what he wrote was enough to justify Fran and Larry's concerns and actions.

Maybe the two of them shouldn't have broken into Harold's place, and I do think Fran should have been upfront with Stu about her concerns about Harold instead of confiding in Larry, but it's not like Harold DIDN'T have sinister designs and ambitions about finding a place in Vegas once he carried out his plan of destruction.

Tragic part is Flagg had no use for Harold other than using him as a tool to dispose of the 7 members of the committee and weakening the morale of the folks of Boulder with the mass destruction. Harold finally recognizes this, but too little too late. It is tragic when he realizes he could have been a true force to be reckon with (but in a positive way) had he not given into his rage over Fran hooking up with Stu.

Blowing up a house and killing and injuring people is a far more serious offense than breaking and entering, especially considering Fran's doubts about Harold proved to be right.

Dayna would have ended up dead anyway even if she ended up in Vegas from the start rather than go to Boulder, thanks to Trashman's little 'gift' to his hero Flagg.

Got to admire Whitney's guts for standing up to Flagg even if it did cost him his life. As far as Flagg is concerned, there is no shades of gray area there....he was pure evil from the start.

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In real life, Nick would not likely have risen to a leadership position, but this is a fiction horror story. It requires suspension of disbelief.
In the world of The Stand, Nick, even though an unbeliever (when he owned his unbelief, Mother Abigail chuckled and said something like "It doesn't matter; He-God- believes in you." was chosen by God through Mother Abigail.
Nick was empathic and could communicate without words He had ESP, was somewhat innocent, and in spite of his mistreatment, was basically a good person. He and the innocent Tom who also had a disability formed a strong bond, and Tom accepted him as a leader.

The Stand has been remade as a CBS All Access mini-series. I can't imagine anyone but Bill Fagerbakke as Tom Cullen, but he is too old now. He had a childlike appearance and was able to portray Tom's innocence, which was of use to the Boulder group on Tom's spy mission as his mind could not be read. In real life, Tom would probably not be recognized as a hero, but in the world of The Stand, he was one.

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