Stephen King has for years been considered horror literature’s most prolific, and perhaps most widely read, author. He has written more than 60 novels, over 100 short stories, several novellas and some screenplays. King’s taste for occasional slip-ups does not diminish his ability to craft stories. Anyone who has read his classic novel It cannot escape the horror of evil, the horror of violence completely devoid of empathy, and the unpredictable that strikes from the dark.
The novel follows seven children struggling against a group of violent boys. They fight against a monster, It, who often appears in the guise of a clown and kills children. Having become adults, the kids resume their fight against this monster. Anyone who has dealt with peer aggression can learn from this novel how the violence involved in bullying has permanent consequences for its victims. To come to terms with their traumatizing childhood experiences, survivors of peer aggression when young now face a struggle against their powerful adversary as adults. This is how they attempt to find peace.
Anyone who has to live with the horror of violence, wonders why. The Psalms repeatedly testify to this: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). The question why is more than a simple question about the causes of violence; it expresses suffering because the question is not answered. The “cause” of violence, one might say, is evil. But this simply displaces the answer to the question of why. So why is there evil, and why does it affect me? In the struggle against evil, the search for causes is not helpful. Struggle is inevitable in a situation where the causes of violence directed against me or “us” cannot be identified. At the same time, the absence of a cause for evil raises the question of how to deal with it. If one knows the causes, one can control their effects. But if the evil itself acts without a reason, then all strategic, technical and therapeutic means no longer serve. It is a struggle between life and death.