Study Guide

'Salem's Lot Chapter 2: Susan (I)

By Stephen King

Chapter 2: Susan (I)

  • Ben gets into town and sees a pretty girl.
  • The pretty girl recognizes Ben because she's reading his book Air Dance. She introduces herself as Susan Norton.
  • There's some stuff about how they'll be important to each other, because foreshadowing.
  • Ben and Susan talk about how much Susan likes Ben's books. Stephen King thinks authors are cool and should get all the girls.
  • Ben and Susan go for ice cream sodas, because it's a small-town thing to do.
  • Ben and Susan people watch while drinking. Susan says she's going to New York someday. It's where small town girls with big dreams go.
  • Susan's a painter who's made some local sales (the biggest one to the local cinema).
  • Ben tells Susan to be prepared with appointments and not just show up in New York.
  • Ben tells Susan about growing up in the Lot with his Aunt Cindy.
  • Ben says he left 'Salem's Lot a month after the big fire; Susan says she was born that year—1951, so she's 23. Ben's 10-12 years older. They talk more about the town and shared memories. Cute.
  • Susan has to go; she and Ben leave; Ben stares at the Marston House and thinks maybe it should have burned down.
  • Nolly Gardener, deputy sheriff, and Parkins Gillespie, the sheriff, see Ben and Susan go into the drugstore and chat about it.
  • Nolly and Parkins provide exposition: Ben is staying at Eva's boarding house, and he tried to rent the Marsten House from Larry Crockett, a land developer. Also, Susan is sort of dating a guy named Floyd Tibbets who won't like her seeing Ben.
  • The next bit is some history about Jerusalem's Lot. It's named after a pig, Jerusalem, who broke out of her pen and went wild. The owner, Charles Tanner, would warn kids to stay out of Jerusalem's Lot, and the name stuck.
  • Susan tells her mom, Ann Norton, about Ben. Ann is not pleased; she liked Floyd Tibbets and is worried Ben will be bad for Susan.
  • Susan and her mom argue. Susan thinks to herself that she really needs to go to New York and get away from her mom.
  • Susan stomps upstairs. Ann calls Mabel Werts, the town gossip, and discovers that Ben is staying at Eva's, where women aren't allowed inside. So Susan can't have sex with him, she figures (though Susan is more ingenious than her mom thinks, as it turns out).
  • Heading back from the movies, Susan and Ben chat.
  • Ben says he couldn't rent the Marsten House because it had been sold. Susan thinks he's nutty for wanting to stay there.
  • And finally we get an explanation of what's up with the Marsten House. It was the home of Hubert Marsten, supposedly a wealthy trucking businessman.
  • In the summer of 1939, the mailman, Larry McLeod, discovered Birdie Marsten, Hubert's wife, shot with a shotgun.
  • Later investigators found that the house was full of booby traps. Marsten himself was hanging in his room dead.
  • Susan remembers how she and her friend liked to scare each other with stories about Marsten's death.
  • Ben tells a story about going into the Marsten House as a kid.
  • Several boys, including Floyd Tibbets, dared him to go into the house and take something out. He went in, opened the door to Marsten's room, and saw the corpse hanging there. It looked at him.
  • He ran screaming out, but he'd taken a glass snow-globe with him, which he still has.
  • Ben speculates that places like the Marsten House might hold a memory of strong emotions.
  • Ben asks Susan to sit on Eva's porch with him and have a nightcap.
  • Ben and Susan go to the porch; Susan thinks she likes Ben a lot.
  • There's a light on in the Marsten House.
  • Ben and Susan kiss, and Susan invites Ben to dinner at her house. He says yes. Cute.
  • The light at the Marsten House seemed like a kerosene lamp rather than electricity, Ben and Susan decide.
  • Ben drops Susan off at home.
  • In his room, Ben sees more lights in the Marsten House and has a nasty dream about seeing Hubert Marsten hanging from the rafters, then turning to run away and finding the door locked.