Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 4 Chapter 37 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 4, Chapter 37 : Snowbound, The Ballroom | Summary



On December 1, Danny explores the hotel ballroom. He is fascinated by the clock under a glass dome on the ballroom's mantelpiece. The clock plays music, and dancers emerge from either side of the clock. The boy and girl run on a metal track and meet in the middle. They flip one another over and lie prone, "kissing pee pees" as Danny observes. Then the figures whirl upright once more and retreat. As the clock counts midnight, Danny hears voices behind him celebrating. When he turns, the room is empty. Danny thinks he is a key for the Overlook the way the silver key winds the clock.

He looks back at the clock and sees a black hole where the face should be. He falls into a vision of himself in the corridor by the Presidential Suite, pursued by the shadowy figure with the roque mallet. In this vision he also sees Dick Hallorann, dressed in his chef whites, reminding Danny to call him if he needs help. Dick disappears and the shadowy figure approaches. Danny finds himself falling through darkness with Tony, who says he can't come anymore.

Danny lands in his quarters. He sees the word REDRUM flashing in the medicine cabinet mirror. The clock in its glass dome appears before it, and Danny sees the mystery word reflected twice. It reads MURDER. The clock face shows the date DECEMBER 2.

Danny falls from the chair, and his vision ends. He calls out with all his might for Dick to come help him.


Danny's interaction with the clock illustrates the Overlook's propensity for using sexual situations to scare or disgust Danny. Danny is disgusted at the display, as indicated by his choice of words to describe the scene. The clock showing Danny a graphic sexual act represents another attempt to corrupt Danny's childhood innocence. The clockwork figures performing this act are basically dolls, toys used for a perverse purpose. The display also punishes Danny for daring to touch a fragile piece of the Overlook's décor. Danny decides to play with the clock in retaliation for the Overlook playing with him, repeatedly, but the Overlook will not tolerate resistance.

The fear begins when Danny enters his trance state. Most of the same elements from previous visions are present in this one: the shadowy figure with the mallet, the hallways, the booming. Danny feels guilty for ignoring all the previous messages Tony has sent him and "just letting things go on" until there is no way to stop this vision from coming true. As if in response, Dick Hallorann appears to remind Danny how to get help. There's little time for help to arrive, though; the end of the vision tells Danny when the murder will commence.

For Danny what's most difficult about the vision is knowing he is now alone in his struggle against the Overlook. He can't know if Dick has received his message in Florida, or whether Dick will make it to the Overlook in time to help. With the Overlook blocking Tony from visiting Danny, the boy is more isolated than ever, and less than 24 hours stand between him and doom.

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