Many of Stephen KingвЂ™s writings explore the theme of evil, and вЂњApt PupilвЂќ is no exception. He has incorporated his ideas of malevolence into the characters of Todd Bowden and Kurt Dussander. The beginning of the novella delves into the dark thoughts of a young boy whose encounter with Dussander encourages the growth of his dark side. From stories of Patin to killing animals, the potential for evil can be seen in the eyes of the two and leads them to the ultimate evil: murder.
It all began when Todd found his вЂ?GREAT INTEREST.вЂќ Staring at those old war magazines utterly lost. Like a key turning in a lock, it opened his inner thoughts and thus set in motion, the creation of a monster. His fascination with the horror stories from the magazines led him to Kurt Dussander, a former Nazi general stationed in Patin. Through the process of blackmail, Dussander was forced to tell stories about the Nazi concentration camps, the poison gas that came out of the showers, all the horrors that went on there. Todd вЂ?got offвЂ™ on the вЂ?gooshyвЂ™ stories, which propelled his thoughts. Millions of flickering signals in his brain like a euphoric feeling satisfying every evil brain cell. Dussander acted like a catalyst that encouraged ToddвЂ™s dark side growth.
Although to Todd it seemed like the relationship between him and Dussander was one-sided, the old war criminal was benefiting from it as well. He was reborn. Never in so long did the old man feel so alive, just like the good old days at Patin. The two of them were like parasites to each other. Todd, feeding his inner evil with stories of war, and Dussander, reliving his younger years by telling them. But both began to realize that stories could not keep them happy. There urge for a greater evil built up like a snowball rolling down a hill. Bigger and bigger it got. The forgotten tales of the thousands of Jews herded into gas chambers must have rekindled some evil spirit living in Kurt Dussander, and was trying to escape. Almost like a trance, he lured a cat by enticing it with a bowl of milk, grabbed it, and threw it into a gas stove. An evil grin came upon his face as he listened to the cat scream. It almost sounded like that of a young child. The snowball was growing bigger.
The same can be said for Todd Bowden. The evil inside him was building up and until now was kept at bay with the stories of Patin. But now Todd urged for more. While riding his bike on day in March, he saw a blue jay lying on the sidewalk. A helpless bird with nowhere to go, Todd saw an opportunity to displace his evil thoughts. A thin smile began to form on his lips as he rolled his bike forward over the blue jay slowly. So agonizingly slow that he could hear the crackle of its feathers and the crunch of its small hallow bones as they fractured inside. Rolling over and over for five minutes, the smile on his face turned into an evil grin. The same grin that Dussander had. The same grin in the days of Patin: the grin of pure evil. The snowball was getting bigger.
As the novella progresses, the conversations between Dussander and Todd