Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Stephen King, The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson (1984)

King, Stephen. "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson." Rolling Stone #426/427, 19 July & 2 August 1984.
______. I Shudder at Your Touch, Michele Slung, ed. New York: New American Library, May 1991.

The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson at ISFdb

Rating:     7/10



Image result for rolling stone 426/427 1984
Published during his extraordinary commercial peak in the 1980s, "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson" is an as yet uncollected short story by Stephen King. First published in a special double summer issue of Rolling Stone magazine, The story was later incorporated into the novel The Tommyknockers (1987), in which Rebecca Paulson was a secondary character (or perhaps tertiary; I have not read the novel). Outside of a limited edition Skeleton Crew by Scream Press, it has not yet appeared in a Stephen King collection, and has only been anthologized in the highly readable Michele Slung-edited I Shudder at Your Touch. As an adapted screenplay, it was produced as an above average episode of The Outer Limits.

In the short story, a neglected and isolated housewife accidentally shoots herself in the head, and consequentially receives odd visions and, as per the title, revelations. As visions and memory begin to bind. disrupting her daily routine, her fate will certainly be locked in to how she handles this new perspective.

With all the story's quirkiness, King focuses primarily on character, to the story's benefit. 'Becka's life is controlled by a dominating masculine trinity, made up of Jesus Christ, her husband Joe, and her late father. Interestingly, her connection to all three is via some form of insurmountable distance. Her connection to Jesus is through her devotion to her religion, and she communicates with him through a photograph of Jesus as shepherd that has become animated. Her connection to her father is through her memory of his domineering ways, as he passed away years before but continues to deploy a daily influence. Finally, her husband Joe is at work during the day, and entirely absent to her when at home, preferring to play poker with his buddies or sleeping with a new co-worker. In addition, their house is located in a desolate rural setting, so that 'Becka has no immediate neighbours, and Joe must drive a ways for his job.

This is an indication that it is not only her stagnancy she is attempting to escape, but also the grasp of faulty masculine influence. She is essentially the sheep that animated Jesus bats away within the photo frame. Jesus tells her he is her saviour, and this is the point at which she listens. Through her revelations, 'Becka becomes aware of her actual situation, the unhappiness of her unfulfilling life, and as she does not have the capability for change, she opts to simply put a halt to the status quo. Without revealing the ending, it is appropriate to the story and her character, since 'Becka is not one to just pack up for the big city for fame and fortune.


The episode adapted for The Outer Limits is quite good, with a strong performance by talented Catherine O'Hara as Rebecca, who received a Gemini nomination. The episode captures the story's essence and keeps quite consistent with the source material, though replaces Jesus with a photograph of a model (portrayed by episode director Steven Weber, who also portrayed Jack Torrance in the 1997 television adaptation of King's The Shining). This change is most likely not to offend sponsors, and though it helps to eliminate that element of male dominance in her life, as a model is less effective than one's religion and its central figure, much of King's story is intact.

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