By: Madhav Kapila (Horror alum, Winter 2013)
It was during the winter semester of my freshman year that I first heard the story “The Man in the Black Suit” by Stephen King. It was an assigned reading in my English 124 class and I thought that it would be boring like the other stories that we had read so far. However, it was the complete opposite of what I had expected.
I had always been a fan of horror films, but I never read any horror stories before. “The Man in the Black Suit” was one of the first that I read and it was my inspiration for taking this course.
The story is told from the view of Gary, who is now an old man near death. In it, he reflects on his encounter with the devil as a child. He is seeking “freedom” by revealing that he was attacked by the devil one day while fishing alone in the woods. The thing that makes this story so horrifying is that it is actually “inspired” by a true story. Stephen King wrote it after someone had told him that his grandfather believed that he had actually encountered the devil in the woods one day. This makes the story much scarier because it makes you wonder whether something like this actually happened.
The thing that makes this story different than the others is the way that the devil acts. As you’ll see in this class, the devil’s goal is usually to make some sort of deal with his victims so that he will get their soul. He convinces his victims to do something using trickery and by telling lies. However, in this story, the devil is only interested in killing Gary and then eating him. It provides a striking difference to what many people believe that the devil actually does.
Although you may not find the story to be that scary, the idea that the devil is capable of doing such things is. Stephen King portrays the devil as a man with terrifying characteristics. His eyes appear to be on fire and the grass that his shadow goes over shrivels up and dies. “The Man in the Black Suit” is an example of a horror story that contributes a unique perspective of the devil. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this story as much as I did and never forget the man in the black suit.