HomeLiterature Study GuidesItPart 5 Chapter 22 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 5, Chapter 22 : The Ritual of Chüd (The Ritual of Chüd) | Summary

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Summary

1958

On August 10, 1958, Bill stands firm and approaches the giant spider. Ben glimpses the "insane" light behind the spider's eyes but goes to help Bill despite his fear because Beverly asks him to. Richie joins him. Bill and the spider lock eyes and begin the Ritual of Chüd.

Bill and It communicate telepathically in a different plane of existence, and then Bill is "thrown" backward through a tunnel "toward ... some titanic dark." Bill repeats the tongue twister from his speech lessons: "He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts." The line creates distress for It. Bill flies farther and passes the Turtle that created the universe, but the Turtle says, "I take no stand in these matters" because It has a place and function "in the macroverse." Bill senses the existence of an Other, greater than the Turtle, something beyond all creation, but he also understands It means to cast Bill into this macroverse, where "It really [lives]." The Turtle tells Bill he must help himself and he already knows what to do. Bill knows his connection to It is a mental one, so he digs in deeper and repeats the tongue twister more forcefully. He demands It bring him back to his own world. He "believes in all the things [he has] believed in," and It screams in agony. Bill returns to his body in the creature's lair under Derry.

The spider scurries to the back of the chamber, leaving a trail of black blood behind. The lights go dark, and the spiderweb above the Losers begins to collapse. They are forced to flee, even though they aren't sure if It is dead.

Eddie leads them out through the tunnels, but he can't get his bearings. The Losers are losing their bond to each other. Beverly has an idea to do "something that will bring us together forever." Each boy has sex with Beverly in turn, even though they're all scared. When it's over, Eddie realizes how they got lost and how to guide them out. Beverly thinks they can go home and "go back to being kids again."

1985

In the wee hours of May 31, 1985, Bill and It establish the mental connection for the Ritual of Chüd again. It mocks Bill's baldness and tells him the Turtle is dead. When it throws Bill, Bill is unable to mentally clamp down on their connection. Richie uses his Irish Cop Voice to clamp onto It himself. Richie uses his whole repertoire of Voices to torture It as he flies through the void. He finds Bill near the deadlights and grabs his hand. "Pull us back or I'll ... Voice you to death!" Richie tells It.

Richie's mental grip on It slips, and in the cave Eddie steps in, shooting It with the "strong medicine" in his aspirator. He injures It, but his arm slips into the creature's mouth. Eddie triggers his aspirator down the creature's throat, which causes pain, but It bites off Eddie's arm. Richie and Bill return safely to the cave, but Eddie dies of blood loss.

The Losers have no time to grieve because It retreats to the back of the lair again. The web begins collapsing, and Bill spots Audra high in the web above him. Richie forces Bill to pursue It instead of saving Audra, who may already be dead. Ben notices a trail of eggs alongside the creature's trail of blood. He sends Richie and Bill ahead and commences smashing eggs with his boots.

Beverly remains in the main chamber, watching Audra drop lower, but the lights go out before she can do anything to help her.

The storm in Derry worsens, exploding power transformers and overturning trees. Lightning strikes the Grace Baptist Church steeple, and a series of explosions damages the Derry Mall on the former site of the Kitchener Ironworks.

Analysis

The Ritual of Chüd is described in Chapter 14 and again here. The two participants, Bill and It in this case, are supposed to bite each other's tongues and tell jokes until, presumably, the monster is defeated. The ritual's power comes from the power of humor and joy to triumph over evil. Spiders don't have tongues, and Bill discovers the biting of tongues is metaphorical anyway. It's a psychic biting on an alternate plane of existence.

1958

The Turtle is the creator of the universe where Earth exists, but its reference to a macroverse means this universe is one of many making up existence. It lives outside the universe, in a part of the macroverse It calls the deadlights, where It wants to send Bill to dwell in insanity forever. While the Turtle may be the benevolent force that has brought the Losers together to defeat It, the Turtle takes no credit for doing so. It apologizes for creating this universe and says it stays out of individual affairs. More likely, the Losers are brought together by the Other that Bill senses while in the void. This suspicion is supported by the Other speaking to Bill after he finishes the job in 1985, telling him he "did real good."

Bill's belief in all things, from the Tooth Fairy to his favorite superhero, saves him from the void. He puts his belief behind his speech-therapy tongue twister and causes It tremendous pain, forcing it to bring him back to his own dimension. The jokes in the Ritual of Chüd are also metaphorical, since the tongue twister is not really a joke. In fact, it is eerily applicable to Bill in both childhood and adulthood, since he spends his life seeing the ghost of his dead brother and trying to cope with the guilt of Georgie's death.

The collapsing spiderweb forces the Losers out of the lair before they can be sure they have killed It. The ritual has worked, because the spider is bleeding, but as it turns out, the ritual only weakens It. One indication It might be dead is the Losers' fraying connection to one another, which causes them to get lost and bicker in the tunnels. Beverly's suggestion is a strange one, but it also represents her overcoming her fear, just as the boys in the group have overcome theirs. Beverly's great fears are growing up and the threat of sexual violation. By taking the step to have sex, she bridges the divide between childhood and adulthood and finds it less frightening than she imagined. She also ensures that her first sexual experience is a consensual one with people she loves and who love her, which helps reduce the fear of violation. While a violation could still happen at some point in her life, she will also have the knowledge sex can be something positive.

1985

Bill goes into the Ritual of Chüd the second time distracted by memories of Georgie and by Audra's peril, which is just what It hopes will happen. It doesn't count on Richie stepping in and helping Bill in the void, and Richie's Voices are much closer to the jokes prescribed for the ritual than Bill's tongue twister. They effectively disable It for as long as Richie's psychic grip holds.

Georgie Denbrough's death is the first in the book, and Eddie Kaspbrak's is the last. Both die by losing an arm to It and bleeding out. The connected manner of death brings the story full circle in a structural sense and reflects Eddie's status as one of Bill's brothers in spirit. Eddie's final moments are peaceful as he overcomes his lifelong fear of death and disease. He learns death is not so bad.

Richie and Bill pursue It even though Bill wants to try to save Audra. This too is part of the creature's plan to distract Bill from his purpose. Richie reminds Bill of all the children who have died and who will die if they don't finish this. Eddie and Stan will have died for nothing. The greater good demands Bill make sure It dies this time. Bill doesn't even know if there is anything he can do to help Audra, but he can kill the monster and save the children of Derry.

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