Literature Study GuidesItDerry The Fourth Interlude Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Derry: The Fourth Interlude | Summary

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Summary

Writing in April 1985 Mike speculates the library Board of Directors would happily relieve him of his post were he to publish his stories about Derry's dark past. He relates a story from one of those board members, Egbert Thoroughgood.

In September 1905 a mass murder takes place in a bar called the Silver Dollar. A Canadian lumberjack named Claude Heroux kills five men with his axe during a poker game. The men work for a lumber and railroad magnate, and Heroux believes they murdered a group of his close friends who were union organizers. As Heroux hacks at the poker players, the rest of the bar patrons continue their conversations as if nothing is happening behind them. Only Egbert Thoroughgood comments after one of Heroux's would-be victims escapes through the outhouse. He tells Heroux to close the door because of the stink.

Once the carnage ends, Heroux sits at a table and puts his head down. Five minutes later, the sheriff's deputies arrive and take Heroux away quietly. Word of the killings spreads through the row of lumberjack bars near the Silver Dollar. Later that night 70 men go to the courthouse, overpower the deputies, and take Heroux from his cell. They lynch Heroux from a tree by the canal.

Thoroughgood remembers a "comical sort of fella" in a bar near the Silver Dollar. He says he's "seen him a few now'n thens since." The Heroux incident starts the killing cycle that ends with the Kitchener Ironworks explosion in 1906.

Mike speculates about what It really eats; he says the creature may eat flesh, but like all monsters it lives on "faith, not food." He worries about whether the Losers, as adults, will have enough belief in "the magic" to do what they must do.

Analysis

The story of Claude Heroux contains the same ingredients as the other stories Mike relates from Derry's history in his interludes. The scene in the Silver Dollar is one of mayhem and bloodshed largely ignored by the people not directly participating in killing or being killed. No one tries to stop Heroux, even though they see his axe and know his behavior has been erratic since his friends' deaths. The fact is, Derry people don't care if people are being slaughtered right in front of them. Even Mike's interviewee, Thoroughgood—who seems to be somewhat friendly with Mike—only cares about the action in the Silver Dollar because it allows a bad smell into the barroom.

Heroux's lynching also echoes the Derry thirst for vigilante justice evident in the killing of Al Bradley's gang in Derry: The Third Interlude. Like Bradley, Heroux is guilty of a crime, and once again the townspeople take it upon themselves to punish him. Heroux is not on the run. He has quietly allowed himself to be arrested, and the law will punish him for murder. Bloodlust and desire to do violence leads the mob to hang Claude Heroux. They can't be very outraged by his crime, considering how little they did to stop him.

Like the story of the Bradley Gang massacre, Thoroughgood's story ends with a sighting of Pennywise, in the crowd at the bar, egging on the violence. Thoroughgood confesses to having seen Pennywise in the years since, but he doesn't seem to consider these sightings unusual.

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