Imagery in S. King's "Quitters, Inc.".

Essay by KDDOBHigh School, 12th gradeA, November 2003

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Imagine a strange man threatening to cut off your wife's little finger and then absurdly remarking "have a nice day." One perturbed reader might question what he or she had just read: Illogical...yes. Absurd...very much so. Sickening...a guarantee. But, out of the way! This is Stephen King. In his short story "Quitter's, Inc.," King is able to both enrapture his readers with his horror and manipulate them with humor. He establishes terrifying images by portraying the antagonist Mr. Donatti to be both psychotically cruel and also disturbingly supernatural. Donatti, during Dick Morrison's follow up prognosis, relays some privileged information about Morrison's mentally challenged "half" a son. A shocked Morrison "bark[s]" back in a "startled and angry" manner. This is just the first time Morrison will be victim to Donatti's crazed psychology. Once Morrison realizes the scope of what he has gotten involved in, he notices that Donatti has a peculiar way in which he deals with his patients.

It becomes apparent that psychological torture as well as the promised psychical abuse holds a finite amusement for Donatti. Morrison notes that Donatti's "smile looked almost predatory, " as if Morrison sensed his own victimization at the hands of this daunting man.

Furthermore, while Donatti maintains that Quitters, Inc. is a legitimate business, cleverly employing the best medicine of all, his justification of the company's philosophy is both humorous and horrible. Donatti parallels World War II, prisons, and cocaine relapses to his "pragmatist" business views. It is comical that one would try to justify the absurd practices that Quitter's uses by citing essentially unrelated and independent examples. Moreover, it is intriguing how - or at least what he calls - the realist and rational means with which he governs his business appear to be quite the contrary, rather absurd and...