Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 3 Chapter 18 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 3, Chapter 18 : The Wasps' Nest, The Scrapbook | Summary

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Summary

On November 1 Jack begins exploring the stacks of paper in the Overlook's basement. Most of the receipts and newspapers he finds are mundane, but some of the details are fascinating. Jack fantasizes about the "jet-set" guests of yesteryear. Looking at old register books he sees names such as Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, movie stars Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and film producer Darryl F. Zanuck. He sees a record of President Warren G. Harding ordering a whole salmon and a case of beer at 10 o'clock one night in 1922. He wonders about the stories behind such events. He considers the possibility of writing a book about the Overlook.

Jack then finds a white leather scrapbook filled with clippings from the Overlook's history. The clippings detail entrepreneur Horace Derwent's purchase and revival of the hotel. Derwent made his fortune in aviation, but there are other rumors about his involvement in bootlegging, smuggling, and gambling. He is still alive and rich, living in Chicago, but owning large swaths of real estate in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. His ownership of the Overlook is unprofitable, and in 1952 he sells the property to a California development company. Then in 1961 a group of writers try to make the resort into a writers' school; this venture only lasts a year. Las Vegas mobsters take over after the writers, but there are rumors Derwent is affiliated with them. The mob's reign ends with the slaying of Vittorio Gienelli and his bodyguards in the Presidential Suite in 1966. A handwritten note on a clipping about the slaying reads, "They took his balls along with them." The note moves Jack to wonder whose scrapbook this is.

Wendy interrupts Jack's explorations and notices he has been rubbing his mouth, an old habit from his drinking days. She sympathizes with the difficulty of recovery and asks him if he's hungry. He flirts with her and implies the possibility of intimate activity. Wendy suggests he have a sandwich first.

Analysis

The Overlook guest register reads like a who's who of American celebrity until the 1960s, when the hotel seems to fall into disarray and disrepute, mirroring the social disarray and revolutionary activity that characterized all of America in that decade. Because the Overlook is a corrupt and corrupting entity, the spirit of the sexual revolution in the late 1960s becomes a house of prostitution in Overlook world. Likewise the social changes and political resistance taking place outside the Overlook provide a counterpoint to the thuggery perpetuated by mobsters within the hotel's walls.

Before the 1960s the hotel was respectable, keeping up appearances like everyone else in the 1950s. Horace Derwent was a defining figure in the hotel's ownership, restoring the hotel to grandeur after World War II and the Great Depression. He never made a profit, but he appeared to be affiliated with other owners and development companies that came after him. Derwent was inextricably linked with the Overlook and its fortunes.

The clippings show an overall propensity for violence and corruption in the Overlook's history. The handwritten note next to the clipping about the Gienelli slaying indicates a certain glee about gruesome details and personal violation. Derwent was respectable, but rumors abound regarding his underworld affiliations. The only wholesome enterprise to enter the hotel, the writers' school, was a resounding failure.

Jack's interest in the scrapbook and the papers in the basement is completely natural for a writer. Writers love a good story, to read or to tell, and the stories are interesting. Who wouldn't want to read about Warren G. Harding and the late-night salmon? The Overlook materials promise Jack both interesting reading and writing material. In short, the scrapbook and the papers are the perfect device to draw Jack deeper into the Overlook's web without his even noticing what is happening.

Although Jack is cautious about expressing his feelings for Wendy verbally, he has fewer reservations about expressing physical affection. His flirtation with Wendy in the basement is one of several instances in the first two parts of The Shining in which he expresses physical attention toward Wendy. In earlier chapters these overtures appear affectionate. Their moment in the basement seems affectionate as well, but Wendy might feel differently about Jack's attention if she knew he'd reading about gangsters having their testicles removed, among other seedy incidents. Later chapters confirm sex and violence are inextricably linked in the Overlook, and Jack's arousal after reading details of Overlook history indicates the scrapbook is already having the desired effect of drawing him into the hotel's influence.

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