Sage City Directory

A re-read of CUJO a novel by Stephen King



This week I re-read CUJO, forty years and 3 months from my first read. 

I’m reading it again for research. 

Such an incredible book. When thinking of this book, it is the terrifying rabid dog most people remember. For me, the book gave me such compassion for rabid animals. Not that I want to go out and cuddle one. Actually, I would be more able to kill a rabid animal without any regrets, because Cujo helped me understand the pain and agony he was in. 

However, the rabid dog is only one of the frightening things King addresses in this book. From the early pages, the family was dealing with a monster in the four year old son’s closet. But there was a real monster in the house, the silent resentment growing in the wife. With Tad starting to send a few hours of the day in organized activities outside of the home, Donna’s fear of becoming irrelevant was growing - without purpose as a house wife, without work outside the home. It was a very common theme in the time the book was written. 

The story’s tension was as intense and gripping as the first time I read it. 

A technique King used in this book to keep the tension up, you know, besides the 200 pound snarling dog in the car window, was to have no white space, no chapters. There was never a place to stop and breathe, or sleep. 

It was so clear through the climax, that if only one character had changed one action, there might have been a different ending. And every character had a chance to make other choices up the last 20 or so minutes. But they all made the wrong choices. 

I love the caring words Stephen had for Cujo in the end. Words to remind us who Cujo was at his heart. 

“He had always tried to be a good dog. He had tried to do all the things his MAN and his WOMAN, and most of all his BOY, had asked or expected of him. He would have died for them, if that had been required. He never wanted to kill anybody. He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies. Free will was not a factor.”

I’m so grateful that CUJO made me read the next Stephen King book, and the next one after that. 

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