Pages 732-733 of Stephen King’s The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition had some interesting thoughts. Mother Abagail has left the Free Zone because she fears that she has become prideful and she wants to seek out God’s will for her in his work. Glen Bateman, who considers himself an agnostic, actually sides with faith in this instance, and he affirms that the Free Zone will go on without Mother Abagail, as solid religions continue long after their founders. Stu Redman and Larry Underwood, however, do not think that the ravens will feed Mother Abagail in the wilderness, and they fear for her safety. And yet, they recognize that they cannot make Mother Abagail return to the Free Zone if she does not want to do so, and so they embrace Harold Lauder’s plan: to look for Mother Abagail just to see how she’s doing and if she needs anything.
I’ve talked before on this blog about how Harold is acting friendly and gregarious because he is secretly plotting to betray the Free Zone. But how does Harold view Mother Abagail and Randall Flagg? Does he believe that Mother Abagail is a servant of God, and that Randall Flagg is the devil’s imp? On page 732, we read Harold’s thoughts: “The old woman was some sort of psychic, he had thought, and so was Flagg, the dark man. They were human radio stations and no more.” But Harold has second-thoughts about this as he felt an irrational pull towards the West, where Randall Flagg is. But Harold realizes that he cannot go to the West right now, for he has nothing to offer Flagg, and Flagg would kill him were he to show up empty-handed. Page 733 has a profound analogy: “So he had turned away feeling the cold relief of a presuicidal man coming away from a long period of regarding a long drop.” Harold felt he had dodged a bullet.
I like his analogy (but not the twisted direction he takes it): a person is thinking of taking his own life, and something gives him the will to go on.