My write-up today of Stephen King’s Needful Things will overlap with a post I wrote a few days ago (which was also about Needful Things): Upset Over Speculation. I’ll start with what Polly Chalmers says to Alan Pangborn on page 185, then I’ll give some background information for that quote:
“…there are too many maybes to support your anger. And even if the worst things you suspect are true, you’ll never know, will you?”
The background is this: Alan’s wife Annie and his son Todd died in a car accident. Annie had a brain tumor, and the pain from that could have been what caused the accident. Or Annie could have had suicidal thoughts on account of her tumor and planned in a state of temporary insanity to take down her son with her, to spare him the pain of not having a mother. In any case, Annie was not wearing her seat-belt, which was unusual for her. Was she not wearing it because she was planning to die, and the wreck was caused when she tried to remove her son’s seat-belt? Or did she simply forget to put on her seat-belt?
Alan at first blamed himself for the death of his wife and his son, for he did not spot his wife’s problem when she was alive. As sheriff, he was occupied with the events that are narrated in Stephen King’s The Dark Half. But Polly, who owned the sewing shop where Annie worked, tells Alan that he is wrong to blame himself, for she, Todd, and the doctor also didn’t recognize Annie’s problem. Eventually, Alan gets to the point where he blames Annie for her own death and the death of her son. But Polly tells Alan that this is speculative—-that he does not know that Annie set out to kill herself and Todd, that there are other possible explanations for the accident, and that there is no way that Alan even can know what actually happened. So why should be get angry over maybes that he does not know are true, and that he cannot verify one way or the other?
That’s good advice. For me, it’s easier said than done, since I find myself getting mad at the very possibility that someone might have said or done something. But what’s the point of such anger?