Study Guide

'Salem's Lot Chapter 3: The Lot (I)

By Stephen King

Chapter 3: The Lot (I)

  • This chapter goes through a day in Jerusalem's Lot, bouncing about from person to person. It's not quite as cheerful as that sounds.
  • We start out at 4:00 AM with Hal Griffen, an eighteen-year-old farmer's kid who hates school and just wants to inherit the farm. He resents his brother Jack, fourteen, who is better at the school thing.
  • 4:30 AM—Irwin ("Win") Purinton, the milkman, is delivering the milk. He has to go back to the truck to get sour cream for Susan Norton, who's preparing for dinner with Ben.
  • 5:15 AM—Eva Miller is making breakfast. She talks briefly to Purinton, who's delivering the milk.
  • 6:05 AM—Seventeen-year-old mom Sandy McDougall gets up to feed her baby Randy. He won't stop crying, so she hits him.
  • 6:45 AM—Mike Ryerson, the gravekeeper, is feeling good about life. Then he finds Doc, Win Purinton's dog, hung up on the grave fence. His day is ruined, especially since he knows that Win will be devastated. This is the beginning of much badness, in case you couldn't tell.
  • 8:00 AM—Bus driver Charlie Rhodes is tormenting the kids on his bus because he's a jerk. He makes a couple of them get off and walk. (They'll get him—oh, they will.)
  • 9:00 AM—Ed "Weasel" Craig, a drunk in Eva's boarding house, wakes up and thinks about how he used to sleep with Eva and only works odd jobs for her now. He remembers how Eva's husband Ralph had helped save the Mill from the great fire. Then a few years later, while showing prospective buyers around, Ralph had fallen into the machinery and died. Ed starts doing some odd jobs, thinking about his past with Eva.
  • 10:00 AM—It's recess at the elementary school, and Richie Boddin plans to stomp a new kid named Mark Petrie. Instead, Petrie dodges, gets on Boddin's back, and makes him eat dirt and cry uncle. You sort of feel sorry for Richie, who has to get beaten up just to show us how cool and tough the hero, Mark, is.
  • 11:15 AM—Out at the town dump, Dud Rodgers is setting fires and shooting rats and having a grand old time. He likes to pretend the rats are people he knows, including Ruthie Crockett, a high-school girl he has a thing for. He's unpleasant even before he's a vampire.
  • 12:00 PM—Laurence Crockett sees a car up at the Marsten House. He figures it's the car of R. T. (Richard Throckett) Straker. Richard Throckett Straker is kind of a ridiculous name, but no one ever says so in the book. Maybe because Straker's not the kind of guy you kid around with.
  • Crockett thinks about meeting Straker a year before, when Straker bought a laundromat and the Marsten House on behalf of himself and his partner, Kurt Barlow.
  • Straker paid one dollar for the Marsten House and gave Crockett the deed to land on which a mall was to be built. It's all very shady.
  • Straker tells Crockett to keep the deal quiet or he'll be in serious trouble.
  • Crockett agrees because he's greedy, but he's not entirely happy about it. He feels things are going to go badly. And he's right. This is a horror novel, after all.
  • Crockett, back in the present, chats with Parkins Gillespie, who wants to know what the new folks at the Marsten House are like.
  • But Crockett doesn't tell him much. Bad move, Crockett.
  • 1:00 PM—Susan goes to the beauty shop to get her hair done from Babs Griffen, Hal and Jack's older sister.
  • 3:00 PM—Bonnie Sawyer is cheating on her husband, car mechanic Reggie, with a telephone repairman, Corey Bryant.
  • 4:00 PM—Ben is done with his writing for the day. He sees the car in the Marsten House driveway and is a little freaked out. In case you didn't notice, the novel takes a loooong time to get up to speed. You are more than 100+ pages in, and there are still no vampires. (Heeeeere… little vampire. Come out and make something happen!)
  • 5:00 PM—The novel introduces Matthew Burke, an English teacher who is happy with his job.
  • He thinks about the school play he's organizing. He sees that the Marsten House is occupied and has shutters up, and he's mildly disturbed. Do you sense a pattern?
  • 6:00 PM—Ben rings the bell at the Norton house. Susan tells her dad, Bill, not to razz him about being an art-fart. Bill and Ben hit it off in a small-town, beer-drinking, manly-man kind of way. Well, they'd better enjoy it, since they're all going to be destroyed by vampires. Susan's mom, by the way, still doesn't like Ben, even if her dad does.
  • 7:00 PM—Floyd Tibbets is getting a drink at Dell's and learns about the death of his uncle Win's dog. The owner of the bar, Delbert Markey, thinks the killers were devil worshippers, which is just about right. That there is irony. Floyd goes off to comfort his uncle.
  • 8:00 PM—Danny and Ralphie Glick are going over to Mark Petrie's house to see his monster figures. Their mom Marjorie warns them to be home early.
  • A lot of good that does.
  • As they walk, Danny tells Ralphie stories about ghosts and people sinking into quicksand in order to scare him.
  • Danny does such a good job that he just about scares himself.
  • Danny and Ralphie think there's something in the woods, so they start to run, and then something happens which King doesn't tell us about, in order to build suspense.
  • 9:00 PM—Mabel Werts, the town gossip, is looking up at the Marsten House. Then she picks up the telephone (at that time, in some areas, you could hear others talking on the line) to listen to folks talking about Purinton's dog.
  • 11:59 PM—The town's mostly asleep (though Win is up grieving for his dog). But in the cemetery, someone makes a terrible prayer and does something with a child. Again, King doesn't precisely tell us what's going on, but eventually it's clear that this is Straker sacrificing Ralphie Glick to the foul demonic forces which will bring Barlow into town.