Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 3 Chapter 16 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 3, Chapter 16 : The Wasp's Nest, Danny | Summary

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Summary

In the evening, Wendy hears Jack working at his typewriter and finds Danny concentrating on reading his primer. She tells him to wash up and tell his father good night before going to bed. She surveys Danny's room and his toys, uneasy about the wasps' nest now occupying the table by the bed. Danny is taking unusually long in the bathroom, so Wendy goes to check on him and finds the door locked. She calls to Danny over the sound of running water, but Danny doesn't respond. Jack becomes agitated at Danny's nonresponse and threatens to spank him, but Danny still doesn't answer. Jack kicks in the door, and they find Danny sitting on the edge of the bathtub, "staring, trancelike, into the mirror." In his haze, Danny says, "Roque. Stroke. REDRUM." Jack shakes Danny and brings him out of the trance, scolding him harshly for stuttering when he asks what's wrong.

Danny says Tony told him to lock the door, but he doesn't remember what Tony showed him. They put Danny to bed, and Danny asks for his nightlight. Wendy leaves Jack and Danny alone, and Danny asks Jack, "You'd never hurt Mommy, would you, Daddy? ... Or me?" Jack says no. Danny confesses Tony told him about roque and asks what REDRUM means. Jack doesn't know, but he tells Danny he loves him. He feels guilty about losing his temper.

In their bedroom Jack and Wendy agree to take Danny to a doctor in Sidewinder. Jack offers to send Wendy and Danny to stay with her mother if something is wrong, but Wendy is reluctant to agree. They know Jack can't leave because, as he says, "Without this job, we're done." In the night, Danny dreams about the booming sound and shadowy figure chasing him. He wakes to find three wasps crawling on his hand. They sting him 11 times while Danny screams for his parents, who appear immediately. Jack shouts at Wendy to kill the wasps, which she does with a coloring book. He puts Danny in their bedroom and takes the wasps' nest outside under a glass bowl and leaves it in the cold air. He is convinced the wasps were all dead after he sprayed the nest and doesn't understand what has happened. He returns to his room resolving to keep better control of his temper.

Analysis

The peace and love that marked the Torrance family's first weeks at the Overlook is abruptly broken when Danny locks himself in the bathroom. Jack's hostility in response to the locked door reveals how tenuous the family peace was in the first place. His anger is always bubbling just below the surface, even though he tries to keep it in check and apologizes quickly when he loses his temper. Even after he and Wendy discover Danny in his trance state and worry for Danny's health, Jack snaps at Danny for stuttering slightly as he comes out of the haze. The stutter reminds Jack of George Hatfield, which either reminds Jack of his guilt about George or his, often denied, hatred for George. Either way, Jack is unable to let go of his personal feelings and memories so he can place full focus on Danny's needs.

The peace between Jack and Wendy further deteriorates when the wasps' nest comes alive. Jack yells at Wendy, still emerging from sleep, for not moving quickly enough to kill the wasps. By doing so, Jack deflects his own guilt about giving Danny the nest. He snaps at Wendy because he suspects she blames him for Danny getting hurt, a blame magnified by the time Jack did hurt Danny. That memory hangs over the family, a dark cloud they can never quite escape. Jack protests his certainty all the wasps in the nest were dead. The bug bomb worked, Jack is sure, but he questions his own perceptions and will later talk about suing the bomb manufacturers, again deflecting responsibility for his possible carelessness. In later chapters, when the Overlook comes alive, it becomes clear the wasps probably were dead and the hotel brought them back to life to injure Danny.

Even now Jack and Wendy have questions about whether the Overlook is a healthy environment for Danny. The trance causes them to wonder if the coming isolation might prove deadly if Danny has another episode. These are reasonable concerns even without Danny's shine coming into play. Even if the hotel weren't a malevolent supernatural entity, Danny could have any number of accidents requiring medical attention. Jack's desperation to keep his job keeps him from leaving, and Wendy's aversion to her mother keeps her from leaving without Jack. Thus the family moves further into dangerous territory.

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