The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 3, Chapter 19 : The Wasps' Nest, Outside 217 | Summary

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Summary

While Jack explores the papers in the basement, Danny considers going into Room 217. He goes so far as to take the master key from the office up to the room, but he hesitates at the door and puts the key back in his pocket. In the corridor he notices the hose of the fire extinguisher curled on its holder against the wall. As Danny walks toward the hose, it begins to unfurl from the holder. Danny tries to dismiss it as coincidence, but he notices how much the hose resembles a snake. He runs past the hose, leaping over it, and thinks it is chasing him. When he reaches the stairs, he looks back and sees the hose lying on the ground, nozzle pointing away from him. He runs downstairs anyway.

Analysis

While Danny stands outside Room 217, he thinks about the fairy tale "Bluebeard." In this story the title character marries a woman whom he forbids from looking into a locked room in his home. Because she is forbidden to look in the room, she wants to know what she is not allowed to see. She steals a key and opens the door to discover the heads of Bluebeard's previous wives. Bluebeard catches her in the act and says she will now have to join the others. This tale speaks to the basic dilemma Danny faces. It's part of human nature to feel curious, even more so about things we are forbidden to know. Ancient mythologies around the world feature different versions of this narrative. However, these bits of knowledge are forbidden for a reason, and finding out what's behind the door or hidden in the box never ends well.

As if to warn him of the danger, the Overlook toys with Danny in the hallway. The hose doesn't fall off the wall by chance, and the resemblance to a snake is not coincidental. Danny thinks the hose is chasing him because it probably is, but it's still comparatively early in the novel. The full power of the Overlook hasn't yet been revealed, so the scene still reads as if Danny could be terrified by the power of suggestion and the fear that comes with isolation.

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