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It (novel)

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It (novel)

It
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Bob Giusti (illustration)
Amy Hill (lettering)
Country United States
Genre Horror novel
Publisher Viking
Publication date
September 1986
Media type Hardcover
Pages 1,138
ISBN

It is a 1986 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by the eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. "It" primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes that eventually became King staples: the power of memory; childhood trauma; the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values. The novel won the British Fantasy Award in 1987, and received nominations for the Locus and World Fantasy Awards that same year.[1] Publishers Weekly listed It as the best-selling book in the United States in 1986.

Plot

1957–1958

In October 1957, an evil werewolf, Stan as It's victims, Beverly as voices and gouts of blood from the sink, and Mike as a flesh-eating bird) and link it with a series of murders. Imitating the image of American Indians using smokeholes to have visions, Ben makes a makeshift smokehole, by which the Losers discover how It came to Derry. Bill then discovers the "Ritual Of Chud", which he hopes will kill It.

A few days later, Eddie is hospitalized after an attack by Henry Bowers and several members of his gang. Spying on them, Beverly witnesses one of the bullies, Patrick Hockstetter, kidnapped by It. Later, the Losers discover a message from It written in Patrick's blood. After Eddie is released from the hospital, Ben makes two silver bullets. The Losers return to the House on Neibolt street, where Eddie was attacked by the leper and Richie and Bill were chased away by Richie's werewolf, and It attacks the Losers in werewolf form, primarily focusing on Bill, but is driven away by Beverley's slingshot.

It manipulates the mind of Henry Bowers, making him kill his father and providing him with a switchblade to kill the Losers. Henry recruits his two closest friends, Victor "Vic" Criss and Reginald "Belch" Huggins, and follow the Losers into the sewers. Under Derry, It attacks the Bowers gang in the form of Frankenstein's monster, killing Vic and Belch. Henry is framed by It for the child murders. Bill enters the monster's mind through the Ritual of Chüd and discovers It's true form in a mass of floating orange light (or "deadlights"), which he repels, and the Losers swear a blood oath to return to Derry if It resurfaces.

1984–1985

In July 1984, three youths throw a gay man, Adrian Mellon, off a bridge. They are arrested for murder when Mellon's mutilated corpse is found, though they didn't mutilate him. One of the murderers claims that he saw a clown kill him underneath the bridge. When a string of violent child-killings hits Derry, Mike—now the town’s librarian and the only one of the Losers’ Club to remain in Derry—calls up his six friends and reminds them of their childhood promise to return.

Bill is now a successful horror writer living in Atlanta, Georgia.

An account of each person's reception to the phone call is given. Stan, who is implied to be the only one other than Mike who remembers the summer of 1958, cannot face going back to face It and commits suicide in the bath. Tom refuses to let Beverly go and tries to beat her, so she lashes out at him before fleeing to her friend. The other's receptions are fairly uneventful. Five of them return to Derry with only the dimmest awareness of why they are doing so, having almost completely blocked out virtually every aspect of their childhood.

The remaining Losers meet for lunch, where Mike enlightens them to the apparent nature of It: It awakens once roughly every twenty-seven years for twelve-to-sixteen months at a time, feeding on children before going into slumber again. The group decides to kill It once and for all. Later, many of them witness manifestations of It. Three other people are also converging on the town: Audra, who wants to help Bill; Tom, who plans to kill Beverley; and Henry Bowers, who has escaped a mental institution with help from It. Mike and Henry have a violent confrontation, but Henry escapes. Henry, with the guidance of It, is transported to a hotel to attack Eddie. In the ensuing fight, Henry is killed.

It appears to Tom and orders him to capture Audra. Tom brings Audra to It's lair. Upon seeing It's true form (the deadlights), Audra becomes catatonic and Tom drops dead in shock. Audra is left alive in It's lair.

Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, and Eddie, find out that Mike is near death and realize that they are being forced into another confrontation with It. They descend into the sewers. While in the sewers, the remaining Losers use their strength as a group to "send energy" to a hospitalized Mike, who fights off a nurse that is under the control of It.

It appears as George but Bill overcomes the illusion. They reach It's lair and Bill and Richie engage It in the Ritual of Chüd again. Richie rescues Bill from the deadlights and manages to injure It. Eddie saves them, but is killed in the process. Beverly stays with Eddie and the traumatized Audra, who is found alive. Bill, Richie, and Ben follow It when It retreats due to injury. They discover that It has laid eggs, which are about to hatch, but Ben destroys them all while Bill and Richie hunt down It. Bill crushes It's heart between his hands, finally killing It.

At the same time, the worst storm in Maine's history sweeps through Derry and the downtown area collapses. Mike concludes that Derry is finally dying.

The novel ends with the Losers returning home and gradually forgetting about It, Derry and each other. As a sign that It really is dead, Mike’s memory of the events of that summer also begin to fade, much to his relief. Ben and Beverly leave together. Bill is the last to leave Derry. Before he goes, he takes Audra, still catatonic, for a ride on his bicycle Silver, hoping that they can beat her catatonia. They succeed, and the story ends.

Characters

The Losers' Club

The Losers are the children who are united by their unhappy lives, their misery at being the victims of bullying by Henry Bowers and their eventual struggle to overcome It. Two characters, Richie and Bev, appear in King's novel 11/22/63 when Jake goes back to Derry in 1958.

  • William "Bill" Denbrough: Bill is considered the leader of the group, as he wants to avenge the death of his younger brother, George. He feels partly responsible for his death as it was he who made George the boat and sent him outside to play with it. He has a bad stuttering issue, which his mother attributes to a car accident that occurred when he was three years old. However, the issue got worse after George's death and it is implied to be psychosomatic rather than physical. He is the most determined and resourceful of the Losers and is the one who, both in 1958 and 1985, confronts It in the Realm of Chüd and eventually destroys It. As an adult, he becomes a successful writer and marries film star Audra Phillips, who bears a strong resemblance to Beverly.
  • Benjamin "Ben" Hanscom: Ben is a highly intelligent boy who, before joining the Losers' Club, often spent his free time reading at the public library. He is also obese, and due to this has become a frequent victim of Henry Bowers. His mechanical skills become useful to the Losers, from making two silver slugs to building an underground clubhouse. He develops a crush on Beverly Marsh and the two leave Derry together after the 1985 defeat of It. As he grows up, he sheds his excess weight and becomes an internationally renowned architect.
  • Beverly "Bev" Marsh (later Rogan): The only female in the group, she is a tomboyish redhead on whom each of the boys have a crush at some point of the story. She is from the poorest part of Derry, and is frequently abused by her father. In 1958, she develops a crush on Bill Denbrough. Her skill with a slingshot is a key factor in battling It. As an adult, she becomes a successful fashion designer in Chicago, but endures several abusive relationships, culminating in her marriage to Tom Rogan, who sees her as a sex object and disapproves of her chain smoking, using it as an excuse to beat her up. She subsequently departs Derry with Ben following the death of her husband (who was used by It to capture Audra).
  • Richard "Richie" Tozier: Known as "Trashmouth", Richie is the Losers' most lighthearted member, always cracking jokes and doing impersonations or "Voices", which prove very powerful weapons against It. He is "too intelligent for his own good" and channels his boredom in hyper-active wisecracking, to the point of getting in to trouble. His flippant remark to Henry Bowers leads to almost getting beaten up by Henry and his friends. He is the most devoted to keeping the group together as he sees seven as a magical number and believes the group should have no more, no less. In adulthood, he is a successful disc jockey in Los Angeles. As the DJ, he uses his once-annoying and unrealistic voices as one of his main attractions. He has bad eyesight and wears thick glasses as a child, but changes to contact lenses as an adult.
  • Edward "Eddie" Kaspbrak: Eddie is a frail and asthmatic hypochondriac, who carries his inhaler with him everywhere. His father died when he was very young, and his mother is domineering and constantly worries about his health. Later in the story, it is revealed that Eddie's asthma is psychosomatic: the pharmacist has been all along giving him water instead of medicine in his inhaler. The root of Eddie's problems is his mother, who has Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Her constant worrying about his health has been a way to bully him into caring for her. When Henry and his friends break his arm and his mother tries to prevent the Losers from visiting Eddie in the hospital, he finally stands up to his mother and tells her that he is no longer the helpless kid she thinks he is. As an adult, he runs a successful limousine business in New York, but is married to a woman, Myra, who is very similar to his mother. He also finds the strength to defend himself from Henry Bowers, eventually killing him in self-defense with a broken bottle, even though in the fight his arm is re-broken in the same spot Henry broke it in a scuffle when they were kids. He bleeds to death in the sewers after his arm is bitten off, ultimately dying in the gang's arms.
  • Michael "Mike" Hanlon: Mike is the last to join the Losers. He is the only African-American in the group and lives with his parents on a large farm. He goes to a different school from the other kids due to his Baptist faith. Mike is racially persecuted by Henry Bowers, whose father holds a long-standing grudge against Mike's father. Mike meets The Losers when they help him fight back against Bowers in a massive rock fight. His father kept an album filled with photos that were important to Derry's history, including several of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. He is the only one of the Losers to stay behind in Derry (and thus the only one to retain his memory of the events of 1958) and turns into the town librarian. He researches Derry history and It, and is the one who beckons the others back when the killings begin again in 1985. He is seriously wounded by Henry and nearly dies. He later recovers from his wounds but like the others starts to lose his memory of the experience. It was later revealed in Insomnia that Mike continued as a librarian and was the boss of one of that book's primary protagonists in 1993.


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