Stephen King: The N-Word

When I finished Carrie, I was truly interested in picking up Cujo next, but decided to read something else instead. At a certain point during my Carrie read, I paused to consider whether King is racist. After all, this is my third book by King that makes some sort of, in my eyes, unnecessary “negroid, negro, niggers” reference. I admit that I’ve only read 3 books by King so far (not including the failed attempts I made as a teen to get into his works), but when I think about The Shining, Green Mile, and now Carrie, there were a few–as noted at Racialicious–unnecessary nigger-word bombs. Is it possible that maybe the use of the word goes along with the novel’s setting or builds characterization in some way? Well, I have a few King titles on my e-reader and decided to search for “nigger.” Here’s what I found in the books I actually read by King, beginning with Carrie:

carriebook…of fighting with desperate decorum to keep the niggers out of Kleen Korners, standing shoulder to shoulder…

There was a picture of the tarbaby sitting in the middle of the road, looking like one of those old-time Negro minstrels with the blackface and great big white eyes.

She looked at him from the floor, her lip puffed to negroid size, her eyes pleading.

A couple from The Shining (14 matches for “nigger”):

the-shiningLater the workman told his wife that he knew it was just one of those niggery hairdos they were all wearing these days, but at the time it had looked just as if every hair on that coon’s head was standing on end.

(GET OUT OF HERE YOU DIRTY NIGGER THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS YOU NIGGER TURN AROUND TURN AROUND OR WE’LL KILL YOU HANG YOU UP FROM A TREE LIMB YOU FUCKING JUNGLE-BUNNY COON AND THEN BURN THE BODY THAT’S WHAT WE DO WITH NIGGERS SO TURN AROUND NOW)

His brother had a big old nigger-chaser in the band of his hat, saved all the way from the Fourth of July.

And a few from Green Mile (10 matches found for “nigger”):

GreenMile“Looks more like a nigger eating watermelon to me,” Percy remarked . . .

I’ve heard about nigger-cocks my whole life but never seen one!

Said something about how niggers should have their own electric chair, and that was all.

 

I searched through a few early titles from King and noted that he manages to use nigger at least twice in a few of his works. While I still have several books that I’d like to read by King, from now on I may be more tempted to search for the book’s nigger usage count–just for the hell of it beforehand. Happy reading, y’all.

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