HomeLiterature Study GuidesItPart 4 Chapter 17 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 4, Chapter 17 : July of 1958 (Another One of the Missing: The Death of Patrick Hockstetter) | Summary

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Summary

In the library, Beverly picks up the story when Eddie confirms she saw what happened to Patrick Hockstetter in late July 1958. Beverly remembers wearing shorts that had become tight over her hips. She takes Bill's Bullseye slingshot to the dump to practice her aim. She has been chosen to shoot the silver slug at It because she has the best eye of the group.

She is terrified when she hears Henry Bowers and his friends nearby in the dump. She peeks around a Studebaker and sees Henry with Victor, Belch, and Patrick in a circle with their pants down, lighting farts. She stifles her laughter and hides inside a Ford so she can't be seen or heard.

Victor and Belch leave, and Beverly sees Patrick take Henry's penis in one hand and his own in the other, masturbating them both. When Patrick offers Henry oral sex, Henry knocks him down and says, "I don't go for that queer stuff." Patrick says, "You liked it." Henry tells Patrick if he says anything to anyone about this, he will tell everyone about what he does to dogs and cats and about Patrick's refrigerator. Patrick will go to the "looneybin."

After Henry leaves, Beverly follows Patrick through the dump to his refrigerator, an old appliance Patrick uses to suffocate stray and stolen pets. Beverly doesn't know how many animals Patrick has killed, nor does she know Patrick smothered his infant brother, a death officially ruled "crib-death."

When Patrick opens the refrigerator, he is overwhelmed by a swarm of flying leechlike creatures. Some of them come after Beverly, and she is too busy defending herself to see the humanlike creature that drags Patrick into the Barrens toward the sewers. She knows the leeches are "part of It." She finds Patrick's wallet and a shoe in the Barrens.

Four hours later Beverly returns to the refrigerator with the other Losers. They pull the door open with a piece of clothesline, and orange pom-poms fall out of the refrigerator. On the inside of the door is a message in blood reading, "Stop now before I kill you all a word to the wise from your friend Pennywise." Bill screams his defiance of the message, and the Losers can tell It is scared of them, which strengthens their resolve.

Analysis

After Patrick Hockstetter helps Henry break Eddie's arm in Chapter 17, Bill notes Henry's association with Patrick is evidence of Henry's own deteriorating sanity. The other kids don't know a lot about Patrick's secret activities, but they know he is isolated and creepy. Unlike Henry, whose hateful nature comes from an abusive childhood with Butch Bowers, Patrick comes from a conventional home. Unlike Henry, Patrick doesn't act from anger and hate. He does the things he does because he can, and he is careful to keep his activities secret so no one will stop him.

Henry can gain leverage over Patrick in just one way: by threatening to expose what he knows about him. Patrick has no shame or fear of punishment; he just doesn't want anyone to stop him from torturing animals. He likes having power over the animals in his refrigerator, just as he enjoys the power he briefly exerts over Henry. Likewise Patrick doesn't kill his infant brother because he feels any sense of malice toward the baby; he just finds the baby's presence in his life inconvenient and knows he has the power to eliminate this inconvenience. Patrick's is the human evil most similar to the creature's. It kills for pleasure, because It wants to feed, because it enjoys power. This is an evil without sense or conscience, and it can't be reasoned with or fixed.

This lack of sense or reason makes Patrick useless to It. Henry is deeply emotional, which means he can be manipulated. Patrick doesn't want anything, so It can't manipulate him and send him to fight the Losers.

Because Patrick is such a revolting character, his death carries a kind of justice. The refrigerator where Patrick has put an untold number of animals to die erupts with a swarm of animals ready to kill him. Patrick is not innocent; he has preyed on the innocent. For readers his death doesn't carry the same emotional impact as Georgie Denbrough's. Beverly's emotional reaction stems from her fear of the creatures that attack Patrick—and she doesn't know as much as the reader does about Patrick's life.

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