HomeLiterature Study GuidesItPart 4 Chapter 15 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 4, Chapter 15 : July of 1958 (The Smoke-Hole) | Summary

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Summary

As the gathering at the library continues, Richie feels the group's connection growing. Then he has a moment when he understands the eye pain that made him resume wearing his glasses. He remembers the day they turned the underground clubhouse into a Native American smoke hole and he and Mike have a vision of It arriving in Derry.

The clubhouse is finished and covered with a heavy door camouflaged with dirt and grass on top. A few days after they look at the photo album, the Losers decide to enact the "Smoke-Hole Ceremony" Ben has read about in a library book. They hope to induce visions to tell them what to do about It.

They light a fire in the clubhouse, but all the kids except Mike and Richie are overwhelmed by the smoke before anything happens. Mike and Richie, on the other hand, find themselves transported to the primeval Barrens, thousands or millions of years ago. They see a flaming object shoot from the sky, but they can tell it's not a spaceship. They see animals fleeing the site of impact and know It has arrived in the Barrens.

The others pull Mike and Richie from the clubhouse when they hear the two boys screaming. Mike and Richie tell them what they've seen, leaving them all with one unanswered question: "Can we beat It?"

Analysis

Richie has resumed wearing his glasses, a physical symbol indicating he is reverting to his childhood self. All the members of the group are remembering more of their pasts in turn, which is making the group's connection to one another strong again.

The Smoke-Hole Ceremony is one of two rituals the Losers employ to fight It. The other is the Ritual of Chüd, which they perform in Chapter 22. The Losers discover both these rituals through research at the library. Their reliance on research and books demonstrates the importance of knowledge and reading as part of a strategy to defeat evil. As Ben Hanscom's conflict with Henry Bowers in Chapter 4 illustrates, knowledge and understanding align with good just as Henry's ignorance aligns with evil. Most of the villains of the story—from the teenagers who attack Adrian Mellon in Chapter 2 to Henry and his cronies, to Al Marsh in Chapter 9 and Richard Macklin in Chapter 6—show a deep disinterest in academic and intellectual pursuits. For the Losers, knowledge really is power.

The ceremony itself reveals how It is a force much older, and possibly more powerful, than they initially imagined. It has, for all intents and purposes, always been in Derry. It has shaped the city Derry has become. Their final question is a legitimate one, because they are only seven children, standing in the face of a timeless evil. The creature's age alone raises the question of whether It even can be killed.

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