Literature Study GuidesItPart 5 Chapter 23 Summary

It | Study Guide

Stephen King

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It | Part 5, Chapter 23 : The Ritual of Chüd (Out) | Summary

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Summary

Bill and Richie catch up to It as It turns to fight them. As Bill approaches, It offers to restore Audra's mind. It offers both men long lives. The men run toward the creature and punch upward, perforating its exoskeleton. Bill drives his arms into the creature's body and locates its heart. He hears Richie scream, but he remains focused, wrapping his hands around the heart and crushing it. As the spider collapses, Bill hears "the Voice of the Other" say, "Son, you did real good."

Richie has been knocked unconscious in the fight but comes around as Bill drags him back toward the main chamber. They find Ben, who thinks he has smashed all the eggs, more than 100 of them. They hear water rushing in the sewers around the lair and know they must get out. They reunite with Beverly and carry Audra's and Eddie's bodies out the small door into the lair. They notice the marking on the door is gone. They are forced to leave Eddie's body behind, outside the door. Bill and Richie carry Audra, who is catatonic but still alive. The group finds downtown Derry easily because most of Canal Street and downtown have collapsed into the canal during the storm.

The storm also has destroyed the Standpipe and the glass corridor connecting the children's library with the main library. Most of the downtown stores are destroyed. The remaining Losers climb the facade of Freese's department store from the sewers into the street. A photographer with the Derry News takes their photo, which is published with the caption "SURVIVORS."

By the time the Losers return to the Town House, they see the scars on their palms fading and remember the oath they made in 1958. Stan Uris cut their hands with a Coke bottle. Bill has the Losers hold hands and swear to return and finish the job if It isn't dead.

Analysis

The final act of killing It is relatively simple—just a matter of brute force. The creature knows it has been weakened and is at a disadvantage when it starts bargaining with Bill and Richie for its life. At least the creature's offer to restore Audra's mind assures Bill she is still alive. Crushing the creature's heart is symbolic: Bill crushes it because the creature has figuratively crushed the hearts of everyone who has lost someone to its need to feed.

In the end the eggs are a more significant problem. Ben thinks he has smashed all of them, but readers must wonder, given how much inspiration It draws from monster and science fiction movies. It is a common trope in such films to leave one egg undestroyed. The creature's pregnancy again raises the question of whether it is the only one of its kind, as implied in Chapter 14. If the creature can reproduce, it may do so asexually or hermaphroditically, or it may mate with another creature, if not on Earth then in the macroverse.

The destruction of Derry and the destruction of It are not coincidental. The creature and its psychic energy have made Derry what it is. The creature has ensured Derry's prosperity to keep people complacent and the feeding easy. As the creature's energy is destroyed, so goes the city. Landmarks associated closely with its activities, such as the Derry Mall—site of the ironworks explosion in 1906—the Standpipe, and the Paul Bunyan statue, are among the hardest hit by the storm. The canal is filled with the remains of Main Street.

The hidden meaning of the newspaper photo caption of the Losers emerging from the remains of the canal is not lost on Bill. Derry's newspaper readers will think these four people are storm survivors, but in truth they are survivors of two confrontations with one of the most dangerous creatures in the universe, and they are four of the five surviving members of the Losers' Club of 1958.

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