Again, with Gerald’s Game, Stephen King retouches on his age-old theme of isolation. With The Stand, it was the few survivors of the outbreak of Captain Tripps. In Salem’s Lot, it was the town of Jerusalem’s Lot as the inhabitants of the town attempted to save themselves from the vampiric invaders intent on destroying everyone within the Lot’s borders. This time, however, King really means business when he ventures into the territory of loneliness as most of Gerald’s Game involves only one character: Jessie Burlingame and her attempt to release herself from a set of handcuffs that were to be used in a kinky sex game.
The story begins when Jessie Burlingame, tired of her husband’s sexual antics, decides to strike out against her husband as she sits, handcuffed to the bed inside their reclusive summer getaway. After her husband, Gerald, suffers a fatal heart attack following Jessie’s successful kick to the crotch, Jessie is left cuffed to the bed with little or no way to escape.
It’s within these harrowing circumstances that Jessie’s loneliness turns into dementia as she watches her husband’s body devoured by a hungry stray dog and succumbs to hallucinations caused by hunger. Within this dementia, she revisits her past, which slowly reveals to her the origin of her unhappiness, which, of course, stems from her unhappiness with the men in her life.
Going in, readers are made fully aware that the conclusion of Gerald’s Game is one that can’t end without an excess of blood and the climax of the story is a truly horrifying one filled with the gore that one would expect of King. In fact, while the reader might surely believe there’s only way to escape, King turns the table on his readers and provides them with a gore-fest that the reader will truly not expect.
Gerald’s Game is connected with another novel of King’s that also involves a woman seeking freedom from an oppressive male figure, Delores Claiborne. While Gerald’s Game isn’t quite as well formed as Delores Claiborne, it is still a well-paced novel that will keep readers turning the pages to discover Jessie’s fate.
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