Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 3 Chapter 20 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 3, Chapter 20 : The Wasps' Nest, Talking to Mr. Ullman | Summary



Jack goes to the Sidewinder Library to read old newspaper articles about the Overlook. He responds politely when Wendy interrupts him to see what he's reading and how much longer he will be, but he thinks "and why the hell are you so interested anyway?" He feels a headache coming on and snaps at Wendy when she says he looks pale. He apologizes quickly but grows irritated again when she offers him aspirin, not the Excedrin he prefers.

He goes to the drugstore to get Excedrin while Wendy and Danny wait in the park. At the drugstore, Jack calls Stuart Ullman in Florida. He asks Ullman about Horace Derwent and the mobsters. He comments on how the owner after the mobsters is Sylvia Hunter, formerly Sylvia Hunter Derwent, and his suspicions she ran a brothel out of the hotel in 1967 and 68. The former Mrs. Derwent sold the hotel to its current owners, including Al Shockley, after a senator died there. Jack says Ullman "didn't play square" with him regarding the Overlook's history and wants to know the names of all the current shareholders. Ullman refuses to divulge this information but says Derwent is not among them. Ullman doesn't know anything about the scrapbook either. Ullman becomes enraged by Jack's insinuations about the Overlook's reputation and promises to call Al Shockley to get permission to fire Jack.

Jack wonders why he called to bait Ullman in the first place and regrets losing his temper again. He thinks his self-destructive act may have been about more than tension left over from Ullman embarrassing him at the job interview. He wonders if the Overlook is affecting him and his family negatively and he wants Ullman to fire him so they can get out of there.


Even though he's physically outside the Overlook, the Overlook is still in Jack's head. He becomes as engrossed by Overlook history in the Sidewinder library as he is in the hotel basement. Signs emerge to indicate his interest in research for a potential book is becoming more like an addiction for Jack. He becomes short-tempered with Wendy when she interrupts his reading and asks questions about it. His internal responses to her indicate a desire for secrecy; on some level he knows what he is doing is not quite right.

Jack suspects the same sense of something wrong at the Overlook prompts him to call Stuart Ullman and insult him. These feelings provide a little more evidence that Jack has a long-suppressed shine of his own. At the same time, Jack lacks the fortitude to make a strong decision and quit this job. Every conversation on the topic centers on how badly Jack needs this job. He doesn't weigh it against the possibility of the Overlook doing them harm because all he has is a feeling the Overlook is bad, as opposed to the concrete possibility of his family living in a broken-down Volkswagen without this job. It's difficult to trust instinct or intuition, feelings, over provable facts. Danny can trust his shine because he knows what it is, but even Danny questions the visions he has because not all of them come true. If Jack has a shine he's unaware of, there's no reason for him to trust it.

Instead Jack tries to shift responsibility for his future onto Ullman and Shockley. If he can provoke them into firing him, then he doesn't have to accept the blame for losing his job. He can tell himself Ullman sold him a false bill of goods and then punished him for speaking the truth. Jack can consider himself a victim of circumstance, just as he did when he was fired from Stovington Academy.

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