King’s cynical portrayal of husband who happily trades in his wife’s death for a free purple ball, a soda, and the freedom to smoke in peace.
The Purple Ball
The couple in this story are caught in a power play about insignificant issues such as difference between a few cents, Little Debbies, purple balls, and cigarettes. Life revolves around the more bizarre and insignificant aspects of our society. A need for a certain color ball, a t-shirts which say “My Parents Were Treated Like Royalty in Castle Rock and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee-Shirt, and a husband itemizing the purple ball and the soda the managers offers him on the house, when his wife just died, but then noticing that the offer does extend to the cigarettes.
The Mechanical Rabbit
By the end of the story, the husband, same as the mechanical rabbit King invoked in his first few lines, fails to be changed by his wife’s death. His life remains as meaningless as before he lost his wife and in the end the reader is left with a grim picture of a husband enjoying his cigarettes in an air condition car, indifferent to his wife and her dead dog in the back seat. From this vantage point, the reader can only imagine he will continue to lead this apathetic meaningless mechanical life and the plastic rabbit continues to run in circles.