Summary: “1922" begins the quartet with the confession of a Nebraska farmer who murders his wife. Rather than let her sell her father’s 100 acres to a hog-butchering company, Wilfred butchers her instead and throws the body down the well. Worse, he turns his son against his mother and makes him an accessory to the crime. As the years after the murder unravel in a host of unforeseen events — including rat infestation, teen pregnancy, and the Great Depression — Wilfred loses his son, the farm he killed for and eventually his sanity.
Review: “1922" is the longest of the stories, but every word is worth it. It is also the most carefully constructed and the only one told in first person voice. Akin to Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado," it is the confession of a murder from the mind of an unstable man. Haunted by guilt, Wilfred comes to believe the ghost of his wife Arlette is actually haunting him. Though he asserts his justification for the murder to the very end, it’s difficult not to sympathize with someone who loses everything. He even loses his confession in a bitterly ironic, O. Henry ending: penning the confession before his suicide, Wilfred hallucinates that rats are biting him and dies by chewing his own wrists open. He also chews up the confession.
“1922" introduces Full Dark, No Stars’s motif of violence against women. The worst part about Wilfred’s misogyny is the fact-of-life way it is perceived by him and the rest of the community. For instance, when Wilfred tells the sheriff his wife ran off, the sheriff advises him to beat some obedience into her if she comes back. He even offers to help. It’s clear that the real reason Arlette’s murder is never discovered was that no one cared enough about a woman to investigate further or question Wilfred’s word.
Other motifs in “1922" include those of rats and the murdered body in the well, both of which come up again and again in Stephen King’s writing. In "Misery," Annie Wilkes says that all people are rats in traps; she later imprisons Paul Sheldon in her rat-infested basement. In "’Salem’s Lot," a man murders his wife and throws her body down the well. Also, in "Lisey’s Story," Lisey’s husband shoots his father and throws his body down the well. Just as in “1922," neither murder is ever discovered.