Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 3 Chapter 21 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 3, Chapter 21 : The Wasps' Nest, Night Thoughts | Summary



Jack gets a phone call from Al Shockley after the family returns from town. Shockley is angry after hearing about Jack's call to Stuart Ullman. Jack says, "I wanted to poke [Ullman] a little" about the hotel's history. Jack tells Shockley he could write a "great book" about the Overlook. Shockley does not share his enthusiasm; he thinks Jack's writing about his hotel—and doing a "scum-job" on it—would be a betrayal. After he reminds Jack of their history together, Jack promises not to write about the hotel. He also agrees not to call Ullman again. Even so, Jack asks if Horace Derwent is still involved with the hotel; Shockley says it isn't Jack's business. The call ends on a friendly note, but it leaves Jack sleepless that night. He resolves to write the book and decides it will not be an affectionate tome but rather a collection of solid research.

Wendy worries through the night about Jack's state of mind. She has noticed many of the signs of his drinking days have returned: lip rubbing, frustrated writing, chewing Excedrin, finger snapping, swearing. She also worries about Danny and wonders how he knew about her sister, Aileen, at the doctor's office. She resolves to talk to Danny about the Overlook the next day.

Danny lies awake, clutching his Pooh bear and looking at his toys. He worries because Jack is thinking about drinking more often and is angry with Wendy for no reason. He knows Wendy is worried about all of them. He thinks his dad might be "LOSING HIS MARBLES" like his friend Scott's dad in Vermont. He fears telling his parents about the Overlook because he doesn't want to be taken away for "LOSING HIS MARBLES" himself and because he knows Jack is here to get over losing his job and to love Wendy. It's Jack's last chance to turn his life around, but he's having more trouble now. Everything is getting worse at the Overlook, and Danny fears what will happen when the snow comes.


Al Shockley doesn't react well when Jack proposes writing a book about the Overlook; this hints Shockley has something to hide. Jack hasn't found any information that isn't a matter of public record. While some of the most salacious details are from the past decade, they seem sufficiently removed from the current management to fall into the category of interesting and quirky rather than damning. Shockley clearly doesn't subscribe to the idea "all publicity is good publicity," and he doesn't seem to think the hotel's interesting history might drum up more business. It's also possible Shockley doesn't want the kind of guests who'd want to stay at the Overlook because of its past mobster affiliation. He wants his hotel to maintain the upper-class reputation that draws the "right" kind of guests.

Wendy is right to worry about Jack's drinking-related habits. However, in her fixation on his drinking, she fails to consider these behaviors as signs of another addiction—to the Overlook Hotel.

Danny has only the most basic understanding of insanity, but he knows it's scary. Danny's mind often expresses the things that scare him in all capital letters, and losing one's marbles qualifies as a scary possibility for Danny. Danny's fears are building because his father seems to be getting worse, not better. Even Danny is aware of the tension between career and the salvation of the family.

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