The Man in the Black Suit

>from Everything’s Eventual

This tale was told to King by one of his friends, claiming that it had actually happened. King also said that it was based on the same ideas as Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” from Mosses from an Old Manse. “The Man in the Black Suit” is not a Faustian tale, which is what I usually think of when I think of people conversing with the devil.

The only similarity I could really find between the two texts is the devil character. In “Young Goodman Brown” the devil’s purpose is to shake the faith (or Faith) of the goodman, whereas in “The Man in the Black Suit” the devil seems to just be hungry. On second thought, however, in both stories the devil does employ the tactic of using someone close to try and sway the protagonist. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Brown sees his wife, Faith, among the converts in the woods. In “The Man in the Black Suit,” Gary, the protagonist, is told by the devil about the death of his mother.

I remember talking about the symbolism of the name Faith when I studied this story in college. She is not only his wife, but represents his faith in God as well. As he leaves her he says, “My love and my faith…this one night I must tarry from thee.” (The link to the ebook is above.) Brown knows with whom he’s meeting when he leaves his wife. For so many children, their faith is tied to the faith of their parents. So the supposed death of Gary’s mother shakes him as much as seeing Faith in the woods with the devil.

I’m going to have to admit that neither of these stories ranks high on my list of favorites. I also must admit that I bought Everything’s Eventual because I wanted to read “1408” before seeing the movie. Since I purchased the entire book, however, I am going to read the entire book from front to back.

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