Literature Study GuidesItPart 1 Chapter 2 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 1, Chapter 2 : The Shadow Before (After the Festival) | Summary

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Summary

On the last night of Derry's Canal Days Festival in July 1984, three teenagers—John "Webby" Garton, Chris Unwin, and Steve Dubay—attack a young gay man named Adrian Mellon. Adrian is a freelance writer who comes to Derry on an assignment for a travel magazine. He meets Don Hagarty in a local bar called the Falcon. Adrian moves in with Don soon after. Adrian also falls in love with Derry, although Don thinks Derry is terrible. As a compromise, they agree to move to another town in the fall, after Adrian finishes his novel.

Adrian wins an "I ♥ Derry!" hat at the Canal Days Festival carnival, which enrages Garton. He threatens to make Adrian eat the hat, and Adrian offers him something else to eat, which enrages Webby even more. That night Webby and his friends intercept the couple as they walk home from the Falcon on the covered Kissing Bridge over the canal. They knock Don aside and savagely beat Adrian while Don calls for help. The boys throw Adrian over the bridge into the canal. Don Hagarty and Unwin both report seeing a clown under the bridge. Don says the clown picks up Adrian's body and crushes him. Unwin says the clown bites into Adrian's armpit.

The prosecutors try the case without any mention of the clown and obtain convictions for the three teenagers. However, Unwin gets a six-month suspended sentence because he is a minor, and he leaves town. Garton and Dubay go free pending appeal of the case.

Analysis

As the start of one of the creature's killing cycles, Adrian Mellon's death in 1984 parallels Georgie Denbrough's death in 1957. Even though Adrian is an adult when he dies, he is as innocent and carefree during his months in Derry as Georgie is as he runs down Witcham Street in Chapter 1. Adrian quickly falls in love after coming to Derry. He feels energized in his career as a writer, resuming work on an unfinished manuscript. Adrian's love for Derry is so sudden and so complete, it raises the question of whether something supernatural has set up just the right chain of events to influence him to remain in town. In contrast, before Adrian dies, Don feels ambivalent about Derry at best.

The images associated with the day of Adrian's death also evoke parallels with Georgie's last moments. Adrian and Don go to a real carnival, which references the imaginary carnival Pennywise implies for Georgie. Adrian wins a paper hat, of which he feels oddly proud, which is similar to Georgie's pride in his paper boat. Like Georgie's paper boat leads Georgie to his end, Adrian's paper hat sets off the string of events leading to his demise. And Pennywise is there at the end for both Georgie and Adrian, standing below, waiting in the water.

After Adrian's death Don's vague dissatisfaction with Derry becomes outright hostility. He blames Derry for Adrian's death. He says the clown in the canal is a personification of Derry, and he isn't wrong. Later events, and even the creature's interior monologue in Chapter 21, reveal the deep connection—perhaps best described as a symbiotic relationship—between the town and It. Later events will also highlight Derry's tendency to look the other way when bad things happen, which explains how Adrian's assailants go free as they await appeal of their case.

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