Literature Study GuidesItPart 2 Chapter 9 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 2, Chapter 9 : June of 1958 (Cleaning Up) | Summary

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Summary

Beverly chats with a fellow passenger on her flight from Chicago to Maine. After leaving Tom, Beverly makes her way to her friend Kay's house. Kay is overjoyed Beverly has left Tom and gives Beverly money for travel. Beverly remembers the poem she got in the mail in summer of 1958. She can't remember who sent it, but she thinks it might have been Bill Denbrough, whom she loved.

She also remembers her "first date," a trip to the movies with Richie and Ben; she considers it a date because Richie pays for the tickets. That night as she gets ready for bed, Beverly hears voices in the bathroom drain, claiming to be Matthew Clements and Cheryl Lamonica, saying, " ... we float ... we change ... " The drain erupts in a fountain of blood. Beverly screams, which attracts the ire of her father, Al. He punches her in the stomach and tells her she needs to grow up. Beverly realizes he can't see the blood covering the whole room. Only when Beverly tells him she thinks she saw a spider in the drain does his attitude toward her soften. He hugs her goodnight. Later she hears her parents' bedsprings squeaking as they do "their sex act thing."

The next morning, Beverly dresses in a sweatshirt and jeans and sees that the blood has not disappeared overnight. She cooks her dad's breakfast and helps her mother clean the apartment. Her mother mops the bathroom floor and doesn't see the blood either. Before she leaves for work, Elfrida Marsh asks Beverly if she made her father angry last night and asks, "Does he ever touch you?" Beverly doesn't know what she means.

Beverly finds Ben and Eddie pitching pennies with a kid named Bradley Donovan in an alley. When Beverly wins the game, Bradley, who speaks with a lisp, calls her a "little bith" and her mother a whore even though she offers to give his pennies back. To comfort Beverly, the others pool their pennies and buy milkshakes. Stan shows up, and they all go to Beverly's to investigate the bathroom.

The boys see the blood, and they help Beverly clean it up. Stan pays for them to take the dirty rags to the laundromat. While they wait, the boys tell Beverly about their experiences with It. Stan reveals he was stalked by the bodies of drowned boys at the Derry Standpipe, the site of several drownings in its days as a tourist spot. He escaped by shouting the names of birds at them. They talk about what to do about It and decide Bill will know what to do.

Beverly returns home with the clean rags. Out of curiosity she runs her father's tape measure down the bathroom sink drain. Something pulls it to its full 18-foot length. A voice from the drain says, "You can't fight us ... You'll die if you try." The tape measure suddenly spools back into its case. Beverly cleans blood and muck off it and burns the two rags she uses. Then she sits on the back steps and cries.

Analysis

Beverly's "first date" with Richie stands in sharp contrast with the violence of her marriage to Tom as she remembers going to the movies and looks at the fingernails she broke escaping from her abusive husband on her flight toward Derry. Even though the movies are a date only in the strictest sense of the word—Richie pays for her ticket—she is there with two boys who care for her and would never consider causing her harm. Ben feels compelled to protect her when Henry tries to attack them after the show.

Beverly's marriage to Tom makes sense once Beverly's father enters the scene. Al Marsh is not kind to his daughter, punching her for the smallest infraction and then hugging her when she tells him a spider frightened her. This pattern of alternating hostility and affection also marks much of Beverly's marriage to Tom, and Al Marsh's actions show how Beverly has come to believe this pattern is normal.

Although Al Marsh's abuse of Beverly is not sexual, the narrative links the abuse to sexual activity. Beverly hears her parents having sex hours after her father has punched her. The next morning Elfrida's question about Al "touching" Beverly is loaded with meaning. Elfrida suspects Beverly angered her father, which means hitting. Elfrida may have made a connection between Al punching his daughter and then having sex with Elfrida. It is equally possible Elfrida understands Al's violence toward Beverly could escalate into something else. Beverly is too innocent to understand why her mother is asking this question; she only vaguely suspects her mother means something specific when she uses the word "touching."

Even though she can't identify the source of her uneasiness, Beverly is becoming increasingly aware of her status as a girl and the threats that come along with it. She feels compelled to hide her changing body under a sweatshirt in June—just as Ben does in Chapter 4. The way It targets Beverly also seems directly aimed at her femininity. First she hears the voice of a small child, the three-year-old victim of It; this is an appeal to early caretaking instincts encouraged in girls. The second voice she hears is Cheryl Lamonica, a 16-year-old Beverly knew, whose death is officially blamed on her propensity for dating older men. This illustrates the dangers of female sexual expression. The scene culminates with a gout of blood, which is a likely reference to Beverly's fear of the menstrual cycle she knows will commence within a few years.

The assault on Beverly's girlishness doesn't end at home. Bradley Donovan attacks her after she wins at pitching pennies because he is convinced girls cheat at games. His focus on girls cheating implies he would not have had this reaction had Ben or Eddie won the game. He probably wouldn't have called Ben or Eddie a "bith" either, nor verbally attacked their mothers. Bradley's reaction is the first of many times Beverly will be called names specific to her gender. Her innocence becomes apparent again in her misunderstanding of why Bradley would insult her mother as he does, and she announces her mother is a waitress.

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