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Stephen King’s “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”

Stephen King’s “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” is about a frozen food salesman Alfie Zimmer, who has to decide to either change his life and write a book or end his life by his own hand. He wants to

write about his collection of sayings he has written down during his traveling. King’s ending of the story is obscure, and I want to prove that Alfie has too much to live for and that he is too committed to his notebook to end his own life.

Alfie Zimmer makes money for his family by selling gourmet foods from the trunk of his car. However he is intrigued by the graffiti that litters the walls of rest stops and truck stops that he has encountered on his monotonous sales route. Alfie feels that writing a book about the sayings would be too hard of a change in his life and decides to commit suicide instead. Alfie chooses Room 190 at the Motel 6 in Lincoln, Nebraska to end his life. When he enters the room and sits on the bed “he reached for the telephone then remembered his notebook” (83). Alfie is intrigued by the old spiral notebook; it was more than a hobby now “(he) had been carrying this notebook, for almost seven years…” (83), it now was his work, his life. Alfie eats, drinks, and lives for the graffiti on the walls. He even analyzes it to make sure it is fit for his book, ““Poopie Doopie you so loopy (Papillion Neb)” Something about the “-ie –ie” and then, boom you got “y”” (84). Alfie thinks about the English Classes he wants to take to learn about the rules of writing.

Although Alfie has decided to end his life that day, he says “Time to record today’s finds” (84) because it is his routine and his fun in life. As Alfie flips to an open page he thinks “Now two in one day. Two on the last day. Like some sort of omen” (84) it’s like he is searching for an excuse or answer not to take his life. Alfie also thinks of his family and calls them twice to remind them about errands and appointments tells them, he loves them for the first time in five years, hangs up the phone and inserts the fully loaded gun into his mouth. He pauses to think of his own graffiti about his death, “Here I sit, about to cool it, my plan to eat a fuckin’ bool it’. He grinned around the barrel. That was terrible. He never would have written that down in his book” (86). I also believe he knows that suicide is not written in his book of life. Alfie knows that by writing the book, it would change his life, he may be rejected or accepted and he is not sure it is worth it. Alfie “had thought of writing a book, just a little one” (85) he just felt that society would not get the humor that he did out of the poetry. While sitting on the bed writing his daily finds “he put the pen back in his pocket wondering why he or anyone would continue anything this close to ending everything” (84). He cannot control his intrigue with the notebook, he compares it to “just…well…breathing he said, and smiled.” (84).

When Alfie had called his family and recorded his notebook entries, he thought he was ready to do the “end” deed but then “he frowned and put the gun down. The book was open to the last four entries” (86) the notebook once again stopped him from shooting his brains out. He thought of what the police would think. Finding a dead man with a notebook of crazy sayings “he was not crazy, and the things he had written here over the years weren’t crazy, either” (86). So Alfie thinks of ways to destroy or hide the notebook He decides to flush it down the toilet, but makes the excuse that it would clog the toilet but he also thinks “besides, the notebook had been with him so long…He hated the idea of flushing it away” (87).

He keeps thinking of the notebook, he is very compulsive about his findings “he loved the stuff in the notebook” (87). Alfie realizes that without him “the notebook might be a real embarrassment once he was dead” (87) and he just can’t come to destroy the notebook. Alfie still feels the need to commit suicide but “there was no need to destroy it (notebook) after all” (89). So he goes out into the blustery January day and throw the notebook into the farmer’s field “Alfie drew the book back to throw it, then lowered his arm. He hated to let it go, that was the truth of it” (89). He was not ready for the future, but with his book in hand, he felt alive. With notebook in hand he made himself a deal, “if the spark lights of the farmhouse reappeared at anytime during the count, he would try to write the book” (89). Alfie once more intrigued by his collections, he thinks about the book, what it should contain, the descriptions, noises, and smells of the rest stop restrooms and truck stops. Alfie had already thought of a title for the book, he was just scared that the book would be rejected by society and he would be laughed at. As “Alfie stood there counting inside his head waiting to see if the wind would drop” (89) however I believe that Alfies own spark lights came on because he realized the book is his life, his life that would be filled with fun and enjoyment. I also think he knows he can’t kill “Alfie the Salesman” because it would kill “Alfie the Writer” and “Alfie the Dad”. The notebook is Alfie’s life if he cannot destroy the notebook, he cannot destroy himself.