A Summary of "Salem's Lot" by Stephen King

by Heather Potter Google
Stepen King wrote

Stepen King wrote "'Salem's Lot" after wondering what would happen to vampires nowadays.

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Written in 1975, "'Salem's Lot" is one of Stephen King's most famous novels. It was filmed for television twice, in 1979 and 2004. King says the inspiration for the novel came while he was teaching "Dracula" to an English class and he wondered what would happen to a vampire in the modern world.

Prologue

A man and a boy travel across America and settle in Mexico. The man buys a newspaper from Portland, Maine, and checks for stories about a place called Jerusalem's Lot, known locally as 'Salem's Lot, which became a ghost town overnight the year before. A short time later, the man tells the boy that he is going back to 'Salem's Lot and asks the boy if he will come with him.

Part I

Ben Mears arrives in 'Salem's Lot, where he spent four years of his childhood. He wants to write a book about the abandoned Marsten House, where he saw a ghost as a child. When he tries to rent the house, Ben learns that Mr. Barlow recently bought the house, as well as a local store, through his assistant, Mr. Straker. Shortly after his arrival, Ben meets Susan Norton and begins dating her. Ralph and Danny, two young boys, disappear on their way to see Mark, Danny's classmate. Danny arrives back home and later dies at the hospital. After Danny's funeral, Mike Ryerson, the gravedigger, becomes ill and a local schoolteacher, Matt Burke, takes him to his house.

Part II

Ben goes to Matt's house early the next morning, where he finds Mike dead in the guest room. Matt tells Ben that he thinks 'Salem's Lot has vampires. Later, at the boarding house where Ben is staying, Susan's ex-boyfriend beats up Ben and puts him in the hospital. Mike, now a vampire, returns to Matt's house, but Matt wards him off with a crucifix, suffering a heart attack in the process. At the hospital, Matt convinces Ben and Dr. Cody to investigate the vampire theory. Meanwhile, more of the town's citizens turn into vampires. Mark and Susan sneak into Marsten House and find Straker and Barlow. Mark escapes, but Barlow turns Susan into a vampire. Back at the hospital, Matt and Ben enlist the local priest, Father Callahan, to help them kill Barlow.

Part III

Ben, Mark, Dr. Cody and Father Callahan go to Marsten House to kill Barlow. When they arrive, they find Straker dead, Barlow gone and Susan lying on a table. Ben puts a stake through Susan's heart. Father Callahan and Mark go to Mark's house, but Barlow arrives and kills Mark's parents. Mark escapes and Barlow forces Father Callahan to drink vampire blood. Later, when Father Callahan tries to enter his church, the door burns his hand. Father Callahan gets on a bus and leaves town. Dr. Cody and Mark realize that Barlow is hiding in the boarding house. Dr. Cody dies in a trap at the boarding house and Mark flees in Dr. Cody's car and finds Ben. Ben drives him back to the boarding house, where they kill Barlow. Ben and Mark drive as far from 'Salem's Lot as they can.

Epilogue

In Mexico, Ben looks over his scrapbook, which contains articles from the Portland newspaper that describe strange events that happen to new families who move into 'Salem's Lot. Mark and Ben return to 'Salem's Lot, determined to finish off the vampires, even though Ben tells Mark that it may take a long time and they may still fail.

About the Author

Heather Potter has more than 10 years experience as a writer. She specializes in travel writing, and her writing has appeared on national websites, including USA Today. She attended Boston University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images