Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 3 Chapter 17 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 3, Chapter 17 : The Wasp's Nest, The Doctor's Office | Summary

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Summary

Dr. Bill Edmonds examines Danny in Sidewinder. He is friendly with Danny as he explains how the EEG—electroencephalogram—will tell him about Danny's brain function. He asks if Danny ever sees flashing lights or smells anything funny. When the test is over, he tells Danny it looks fine, and he asks about Tony. Danny says Tony is "at least eleven" but "might be old enough to drive a car." Danny says Tony helped him find Jack's lost trunk in their basement in Vermont, even though Danny never went into the basement. Danny tells Edmonds about REDRUM, but the doctor doesn't know what it means either.

Edmonds asks Danny to try to see Tony in the exam room. After some effort Tony shows Danny a vision of Jack poring over papers and books in the Overlook's basement. In the vision, Jack finds a scrapbook. Danny wants to warn Jack to leave the scrapbook alone. He hears Tony telling him, "This inhuman place makes human monsters," before he returns to consciousness in the doctor's office. Danny repeats the first part of the quote to Edmonds but can't remember anything else about the vision. Edmonds asks if Danny remembers anything before Tony came, and Danny tells him Wendy is worrying and thinking about her sister, Aileen, who died in childhood. Edmonds sends Danny out to read in the waiting room while he talks to Jack and Wendy.

Edmonds tells Jack and Wendy he can't find anything physically wrong with Danny. He says Danny is "bright and rather too imaginative." He describes Danny's trance state and shocks them when he says Danny believes his parents considered divorce. Jack talks about his alcoholism and breaking Danny's arm. Edmonds says Danny feels he needs Tony more than other children need their imaginary friends, but he thinks Tony's predictions have logical explanations. He thinks Danny is having more problems with Tony now because "Tony has outlived his usefulness." Edmonds says if Danny doesn't outgrow Tony, he is at risk for severe mental illness. He compares Danny to "a junkie kicking the habit."

Before they part ways, Edmonds asks Wendy about Aileen. Wendy is shocked Danny knew she was thinking about her sister in the waiting room, especially since Danny has never heard the story. When Edmonds asks about REDRUM, Jack thinks the word is a reference to his drinking. Neither parent recognizes "the shining" when Edmonds asks about it. Edmonds shrugs off their responses and says he thinks Danny will be fine.

Analysis

Representing science and reason, Dr. Edmonds attributes Danny's extraordinary perception and abilities to exceptional intelligence and imagination. He has an answer for everything. Tony is an imaginary friend who allowed Danny to cope with the possibility of his parents divorcing. The things Danny just knows stem from attention to details others throw out around Danny, and the child latches onto them. For example, Danny heard about Aileen somewhere, sometime, and his knowledge Wendy is thinking about Aileen is a lucky guess or coincidence. Edmonds is undoubtedly kind and well-intentioned, but his mind isn't open to the possibility of things he can't explain. When faced with things he can't explain, he moves past them seamlessly.

Edmond's characterization of Danny as a "junkie kicking the habit" of his imaginary friend ties into the addiction narrative of The Shining. In a sense Danny is addicted to Tony, not as an imaginary playmate or friend but as a filter for the frightening images that come to him via shining. In Book 5, Chapter 54, Danny discovers Tony is an older version of himself. Tony's name is a common nickname for Anthony, Danny's middle name. Dr. Edmonds alludes to the naming choice, but Jack and Wendy say they've never mentioned it to Danny. Tony isn't necessarily a habit to be broken, but he is a coping mechanism for Danny.

Wendy's constant worry about Danny becomes more explicable when the story of her younger sister comes forth. Wendy worries about Danny getting hurt or killed because she learned at an early age small children get hurt and killed. While Dr. Edmonds provides logical explanations for Danny's knowing things, Wendy takes Danny's knowledge about her sister as more evidence that Danny's abilities are unique and unusual, though she's not yet ready to admit he can read minds.

The vision Tony shows Danny in the doctor's office is less harrowing than his previous visions, but it's also more specific. In this vision Danny can clearly see his father, can clearly recognize the Overlook's basement filled with papers. He feels the scrapbook is dangerous in some way, but that feeling is the least specific element of the vision. The unfortunate part of the vision is how Danny forgets the details when he emerges from his trance, so he can't tell the doctor about the scrapbook. If Danny did remember, he might prevent his father from finding the scrapbook that gives the Overlook more control in the next chapter.

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