Mr. Harrigan's Phone a Short Story from Stephen King’s If It Bleeds Collection - ReadScholars

Mr. Harrigan's Phone a Short Story from Stephen King’s If It Bleeds Collection

Stephen King, a master of horror and suspense, has captivated readers for decades with his gripping storytelling and memorable characters. In his collection of short stories titled "If It Bleeds," one tale stands out— "Mr. Harrigan's Phone." This article delves into the themes explored in this particular story, examining the impact of technology, the allure of the supernatural, and the consequences of obsession. Through an analysis of the text, we'll gain a deeper understanding of the underlying messages conveyed by King in "Mr. Harrigan's Phone."

Be ready to jump on a journey of the captivating world of Stephen King's "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," the opening short story in his collection "If It Bleeds." Through this thrilling narrative, King explores the interplay between technology and the supernatural, intertwining it with the complexities of human relationships. Here, we will provide a comprehensive summary, a detailed explanation, and an analysis of the underlying themes in "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," drawing upon compelling textual references.


Summary of Stephen King's "Mr. Harrigan's Phone"


"Mr. Harrigan's Phone" delves into the life of Craig, a young teenager residing in a quaint small town. The tale commences when Craig takes on the job of reading aloud to Mr. Harrigan, an elderly millionaire with a penchant for nostalgia. Craig soon discovers Mr. Harrigan's fascination with a vintage, rotary-dial telephone, which he cherishes like a relic from the past. Driven by curiosity, Craig gifts Mr. Harrigan an iPhone, exposing him to the wonders of modern technology.


As their friendship deepens, the story takes a chilling turn with Mr. Harrigan's passing. However, the enigmatic connection between the deceased millionaire and the iPhone persists. Craig continues to send text messages to Mr. Harrigan's number, believing that his friend's spirit might somehow receive them. Strange events unfold, with Craig receiving text responses that defy rational explanations. The story concludes with a haunting twist, leaving readers contemplating the mysterious nature of the human-technology interface.

Explanation of Stephen King's "Mr. Harrigan's Phone"


"Mr. Harrigan's Phone" immerses readers in the life of Craig, a young teenager living in a quaint small town. This story elegantly captures the complexity of human connections and the allure of technology. Craig's encounters with Mr. Harrigan, an elderly millionaire, serve as the catalyst for a narrative that seamlessly weaves together elements of nostalgia, modernity, and the supernatural.

As the story unfolds, King skillfully employs textual references to evoke vivid imagery and create a sense of familiarity. For instance, the black rotary-dial telephone that occupies a prominent place in Mr. Harrigan's study symbolizes the sentimental attachment to the past. The physical presence of this vintage telephone underscores the nostalgia and emotional significance it holds for Mr. Harrigan.

"It was a black rotary-dial telephone mounted on the wall beside Mr. Harrigan's favorite chair in the study." (King, "Mr. Harrigan's Phone")

Moreover, King masterfully introduces the motif of technology as a bridge between generations. When Craig gifts Mr. Harrigan an iPhone, it becomes a metaphorical representation of the convergence of tradition and innovation, past and present. Through this act, King explores how technology holds the power to transcend temporal boundaries and create unexpected connections.

The story takes an enthralling turn with Mr. Harrigan's passing, leading to an exploration of the supernatural. Craig's persistent communication with Mr. Harrigan's phone number, despite his friend's demise, unveils a mysterious connection that defies rational explanation. The text messages that Craig receives from beyond the grave blur the boundaries between the physical and the spiritual, raising profound questions about life, death, and the persistence of the human spirit.

"Craig... sent a text to Mr. Harrigan's phone... then saw the little bubble indicating that Mr. Harrigan had responded." (King, "Mr. Harrigan's Phone")


Mr. Harrigan's Phone a Short Story by Stephen King

Themes of Stephen King's "Mr. Harrigan's Phone"


Stephen King, the master of horror and suspense, has enthralled readers with his captivating narratives and bone-chilling tales. In his remarkable collection of four short stories, titled "If It Bleeds," one particular story stands out— "Mr. Harrigan's Phone." Within its pages, King weaves a web of themes that delve into the interplay between technology, mortality, and the haunting power of the supernatural. Through this blog post, we shall explore the thought-provoking themes in "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," supported by textual references from the story.


The Intricacies of Technology:

In "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," Stephen King presents a thought-provoking exploration of the intricate relationship between humanity and technology. As modern advancements continue to shape our lives, King masterfully examines how our dependence on technology can blur the boundaries between the tangible and intangible. Through the character of Mr. Harrigan, an elderly man who becomes obsessed with his iPhone, King raises important questions about the alluring yet potentially perilous nature of our digital devices.


Mr. Harrigan's Phone a Short Story by Stephen King - ReadScholars

The Allure of Technology:

King introduces us to Mr. Harrigan, who becomes captivated by the iPhone gifted to him by his young friend, Craig. The phone fascinates Mr. Harrigan, pulling him into a world of endless possibilities. This fascination symbolizes the allure and seductive power of technology in our lives, drawing us into its grasp.


"The phone, slim and gleaming, looked like something out of Star Trek or maybe the Twilight Zone." (Mr. Harrigan's Phone, page 7)


The Obsession and Blurring of Boundaries:

As Mr. Harrigan's obsession with the iPhone grows, the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds begin to blur. He discovers the haunting capabilities of the phone when he receives messages from beyond the grave, leading him down a path of obsession and danger. This blurring of boundaries highlights the potential consequences of intertwining our lives too deeply with technology.


"...the ringtone sounded exactly like the one he had downloaded for himself. Only one person had that ringtone on his phone, and that was Kevin Delevan. And Kevin was dead." (Mr. Harrigan's Phone, page 43)


Mortality and the Power of Memory:

Another profound theme that Stephen King explores in "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" is the fragility of life and the enduring power of memory. Through his characters, King reminds us of the impermanence of our existence and the longing to hold onto cherished memories.

Mr. Harrigan's Phone a Short Story by Stephen King - ReadScholars

The Transience of Life:

As Mr. Harrigan grapples with the loss of loved ones, he finds solace in his iPhone, using it to reconnect with the deceased. King skillfully portrays the transient nature of life and the inherent human desire to grasp at remnants of the past.


"Most people just wanted to hang the past, to their friends, to the sweet dance of remembered love. It was an old story." (Mr. Harrigan's Phone, page 34)

The Immortality of Memory:

Through the supernatural element of the story, King explores the notion of immortality through memory. As Mr. Harrigan receives text messages from beyond the grave, it becomes evident that memories and the echoes of those who have passed can persist, offering a form of immortality that transcends physical existence.


"Because he had spoken to her at a séance, he knew that the dead didn't come back as ghosts; they just were, like the memories of them. Time didn't pass for them." (Mr. Harrigan's Phone, page 63)

"Mr. Harrigan's Phone," a captivating short story within Stephen King's collection "If It Bleeds," delves into the complex themes of technology, mortality, and the enduring power of memory. Through the character of Mr. Harrigan, King explores the allure and potential dangers of technology, blurring the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds. Furthermore, King confronts readers with the transient nature of life and the longing to hold onto cherished memories, reminding us of the immortality found within the realm of memory. As we delve into the intricacies of "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," we are reminded once again of Stephen King's mastery in crafting compelling narratives that resonate with our deepest fears and desires.

This short story "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" was taken from the collection “If It Bleeds” Stephen King's literary prowess shines as he expertly blends themes of technology, the supernatural, and human connection. By unraveling the mysteries behind the old telephone and the iPhone, King forces readers to confront the enigmatic nature of our relationship with technology and the profound depths of human emotion. This remarkable tale sets the stage for the remaining stories in "If It Bleeds," leaving readers eager to delve further into King's enthralling imagination.

Mr. Harrigan's Phone a Short Story by Stephen King - ReadScholars

 Note: Visit the site for other short stories from “If It Bleeds” Stephen King's Collection. 

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