Literature Study GuidesItPart 2 Chapter 7 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 2, Chapter 7 : June of 1958 (The Dam in the Barrens) | Summary

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Summary

As Eddie Kaspbrak drives a borrowed limo from Boston to Derry, he remembers Bill saying he has a compass in his head, and he remembers the day they built a dam in the Barrens.

Ben brings boards to shore up the dam, and they bond while they work. Eddie and Bill good-naturedly tease Ben about his body, but Ben and Eddie can tell Bill wants to talk about something serious. The water is already backing up nicely when Richie and Stan join the work.

With supplies scavenged from the nearby dump, including a car door and some tires, they expand the dam's reach. Then Bill tells them what happened with Georgie's photo album. Eddie tells his own story. He has a habit of hanging around the old train yard, imagining the trains are off to exciting destinations, even though he fears hobos. He encounters a hobo while poking around an abandoned house on Neibolt Street, which leads to the train yard. A man with no nose emerges from under the porch and offers to perform oral sex on Eddie for a dime. Eddie flees.

Eddie calls the hobo a leper, but Richie explains the hobo has syphilis, not leprosy, which leads the boys to discuss the mechanics of sex, incorporating knowledge passed along by a kid named Boogers Taliendo.

Eddie remains curious about the house on Neibolt Street and returns a few weeks later. He encounters a real leper there, all peeling skin and exposed bone, wearing a silver clown suit with orange buttons. It makes the same offer as the first hobo and chases Eddie through the yard. Eddie escapes on his bike.

After Eddie finishes his story, Ben says he saw the clown too, as a mummy. Richie hasn't seen anything, but Stan becomes so defensive they know he has a story. "It wasn't a clown. It was—" he begins. He is cut off by a voice shouting "Jay-sus Christ ... . Look at this mess!"

Analysis

Eddie's two experiences at the house on Neibolt Street frighten him because Eddie's mother has instilled a lifelong fear of sickness in Eddie. The first hobo Eddie encounters at the house seems to be a real hobo, unrelated to It; the world is scary enough even without supernatural forces. The first hobo, unlike the second, doesn't wear a clown costume, doesn't call Eddie by name, and doesn't kill plants by touching them. Eddie misidentifies what is wrong with the hobo, saying the man has leprosy when his symptoms look like syphilis. The second hobo, the manifestation of It, does have the disease Eddie identifies first; the creature seems to know leprosy is the disease Eddie fears more, since it's the one Eddie believes he can catch.

The boys have a comically bad understanding of sex; their knowledge on the subject primarily comes from a kid whose nickname is Boogers, who tells them sex takes place between a man's penis and a woman's navel. While this explanation is funny to readers who do understand the mechanics of human reproduction, it emphasizes the innocence of the boys in the Barrens. They don't fully understand what sex is or how it's done; they are just learning about these matters, in the imperfect but time-honored manner of rumors and hearsay. The hobo's offer to "blow" Eddie represents a violation of sexual innocence; Eddie may or may not know what the term means, but he instinctively understands the hobo is offering intimate contact he must avoid.

Eddie's decision to return to the house on Neibolt Street after his encounter with a real-life monster also indicates his childish innocence. Eddie is drawn to this place by curiosity and by the same human desire that drives people to read books such as It: the desire to be entertained by being scared. It doesn't make logical sense, but the experience with the hobo is so strange, so far from Eddie's reality, Eddie wants to see if there is evidence it really happened at all. Perhaps he is looking for evidence it didn't really happen. Instead it happens again but in an even more threatening way.

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