Stephen King’s newest novel Elevation lacks his trademark horror, but it makes up for it in hopefulness. Scott Carey is going weightless. Determined, stubborn and caring Scott knows his end is near but commits himself to helping others while suffering his affliction mostly alone.
Dr. Bob Ellis is Scott’s first confidant. While Dr. Bob is concerned about Scott he understands his decision to not seek outside help. Scott’s neighbors Deirdre (DeeDee) McComb and Missy Donaldson are new to Castle Rock and trying to run a restaurant.
They are open and honest about their lesbian marriage and the town doesn’t like it, many won’t visit. After Scott goes to DeeDee about their dogs pooping in his yard, she refuses to think that he is just trying to be a descent neighbor. She meets him with disdain, cynicism, and outright hatefulness.
Missy tries to be DeeDee’s voice of reason, and to see the best in Scott. King’s Elevation is a story about how the negativity and hatefulness that many times lead our lives, keeps us down, and how perhaps if we can instead practice kindness, and civility we can lessen the weight on our shoulders.
Even though Scott is losing weight on the scale, he appears no different in person. He even still wears the same size clothes. So, when he signs in for the Annual Turkey Trot Race, Patsy the owner of the town’s family diner greets him with surprised sarcasm. “Besides you’ll be running at the back with the kiddies soon enough.”
“Ouch,” Scott said. She smiled “Truth hurts, doesn’t it? All those bacon-burgers and cheese omelets have a way of comin back to haunt a fella. Bear it in mind if you start to feel your chest tightenin up” (King 74). Scott takes her comment in stride and bears her no ill will. He understands where she is coming from.
DeeDee feels the same way as Patsy when Scott offers her a bet before the race. If he wins the race she and Missy must come to his house for dinner. If she wins he will never bother her again, not even about her dogs. DeeDee accepts the bet because she believes there is no way Scott can win. She is dead wrong, by the end of the race Scott has caught up to her and would have overtaken her, but he instead picks her up when she falls.
Briefly granting her his advantage over gravity. “What happened? My God, you put your arm around me and it was like I weighed nothing!” (King 99) While everyone else watching and competing in the race believed Scott would have a heart attack before he finished the race he proved them wrong and, in the process, he made sure the whole town would begin to accept DeeDee and Missy.
DeeDee and Missy still agree to dinner at Scott’s house. Scott also invites Dr. Bob and his wife. He effectively turns it into a farewell dinner. After dinner the conversation turns to Scott’s strange affliction and what he believes will happen when the scale hits zero. When the decisions have been made and everyone is leaving Myra asks Scott if she can say one last thing. He wishes to himself that she wouldn’t.
“He thought he had discovered one of life’s great truths (and one he could have done without) the only thing harder than saying goodbye to yourself, a pound at a time, was saying goodbye to your friends.” (King 131) But he allows Myra to continue and she tells him that while she is sorry Scott is suffering his strange affliction, she is glad it happened as it led her to being more opened minded and allowed her to become friends with DeeDee and Missy.
The day comes when the scale has hit zero. DeeDee has helped Scott with his final preparations and he is ascending slowly into the night sky. “Everyone should have this, he thought, and perhaps, at the end, everyone does. Perhaps in their time of dying, everyone rises” (King 145). He lights his Skylight, a last gift to his friends. Something nice to remember in place of his floating away.
The story ends with Scott looking up in the sky, rising still above the Earth. Perhaps it is possible that at the time of death everyone rises above the negativity and prejudice that control their lives and keep them rooted to the Earth.
In reflecting on King’s story, we figure out that no matter how small our acts of kindness are to us, their weight can be monumental. In the article “From Stephen King, Master of Darkness, a Light New Tale” it is said that “…Scott just wants to break through Deirdre’s hard exterior and help her save her restaurant. Some of their neighbors are jerks. One of the story’s most gripping moments hinges on the results of a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.
It’s all pretty small. But in the background the numbers on the scale continue downward” (Cruz). Every kind act no matter how minor sends ripples into the cosmos. Scott is the cosmos’s messed up way of rewarding those ripples. Every kind act he performs results in a loss on the scale. He takes it all in stride and isn’t fearful of zero day. He embraces it knowing that he is leaving the world a better place, even if he only effected the lives of people in one small Maine town.
What did we learn from reading Stephen King’s newest short story? According to “Stephen King’s Halloween book is shockingly…heartwarming?” “It’s a novel about measured response, about civil respect, about how we should behave in our small, gossipy towns” (Charles).
We should be mindful of how we function in society and show respect for everyone regardless of if their opinions and beliefs match our own. The tricky question is how do we accomplish this?
How do we empathize with everyone, whether our opinions and beliefs match or not? In the Mark Waters directed version of Freaky Friday, the mother daughter duo of Tess and Anna Coleman accomplish it with the help of some magic fortune cookies. They wake up the next day in each other’s bodies. They find themselves unable to switch back until they learn to put other’s needs above their own and to be selfless (Waters).
While a story about a mother and daughter learning to understand each other may not be on the same scale as learning to sympathize with society, the lesson is the same. You simply are not going to be able to understand how someone else feels until you can put yourself in their place.
We should all take notes from Elevation, to apply to our everyday lives. Be aware of your actions and how they are perceived by others. Contemplate the words you say and how they affect other people. Deliberate on your thoughts of others before you judge them.
Lastly, strive every day to put someone else’s needs above your own. Think how all these small changes could affect society if everyone applied them every day.