HomeLiterature Study GuidesItDerry The First Interlude Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Derry: The First Interlude | Summary

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Summary

Derry's town librarian, Mike Hanlon, begins assembling an unofficial history of Derry. He describes his research via old books, periodicals, and interviews with historians and town residents. He debates whether he should call the others after the Adrian Mellon incident because he believes "the thing that was here in 1957 and 1958" is still in Derry and has been here since the town's founding.

Mike alludes to other disasters, starting with the 1741 disappearance of all the settlers in Derry, a story most people don't know. He talks to a man whose wife heard voices coming from the drains in their house in 1957 and 1958. Their daughter, Betty Ripsom, was killed in December 1957, and her father says he heard Betty's voice in his kitchen sink drain in fall 1958.

Mike also mentions a Derry man poisoned his family and himself in 1851 and a crew of lumberjacks found nine other lumberjacks chopped to bits in a cabin in 1879. On Easter Day in 1906 the Kitchener Ironworks exploded for unknown reasons, killing 102 people, 88 of whom were children participating in an Easter-egg hunt in the factory. Derry's murder rate is six times that of comparably sized New England cities. Some 40 to 60 children disappear in Derry each year; 127 children disappeared in 1958. Yet police dismiss Mike's concerns and questions, saying the kids—even the toddlers among them—likely ran away from home.

Analysis

As Derry's town librarian, Mike Hanlon is a meticulous record-keeper. He is the only one of the seven friends—the seven who know about It—who has remained in Derry. While the others find success in the world, Mike learns all he can about the past to prepare for a battle he knows is coming. The narrative has not yet revealed Mike and his friends fought and injured It in August 1958. Some of the friends believe they may have killed the creature, but Mike knows better. Tellingly, he mentions Betty Ripsom's father hearing his dead daughter's voice from a drain in fall 1958. Chapter 9 will feature the voices of dead children talking to Beverly from her bathroom sink in June 1958, when the creature first attempts to terrify and capture her. Such voices should cease after the seven friends defeat It in August, so Mr. Ripsom's story provides an early clue It will return.

Mike's account of events also provides more evidence of the symbiotic relationship between It and Derry. Mike makes a timeline of the creature's activity and theorizes It goes through patterns of wakefulness and dormancy, repeating the cycle every 27 or 28 years. Mike also points out the city's high rates of crime and missing children. Even when It is dormant, Derry is full of evil. Most disturbing is the authorities' seeming indifference toward this exceptional crime rate, as if they are somehow complicit.

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