The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 5, Chapter 38 : Matters of Life and Death, Florida | Summary

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Summary

Dick Hallorann visits a vegetable market in Florida to buy materials to cook dinner at the restaurant where he works. As he drives from the market to the restaurant, Danny's message hits him will full force. He almost wrecks his car. The messages keep coming as he stops to order a root beer float to ease his aching head. Dick feels Danny's panic and leaves the roadside stand before getting his float.

Dick tells his manager he must go to Colorado because his son has been in a hunting accident. He goes to his apartment and drops a copy of his will from his pocket. He thinks about how much life he has lived and how much life Danny has left. He remembers how the woman in Room 217 came after him when he went to investigate Delores Vickery's claims of seeing Mrs. Massey dead in the bathtub, even though Mrs. Massey's body was taken away the day before. Dick has seen the topiary animals change position and sensed a malevolent presence in the attic. He can't leave Danny to face those horrors alone. Dick packs a bag and sets out for the airport.

On the way to Miami International Airport, Dick calls United Airlines to book a flight to Denver. He can go on the 6:36 p.m. flight if he makes it to the airport in time. He almost does, but gets stopped for speeding and misses the flight by nine minutes.

Analysis

The force with which Danny's message hits Dick, covering the distance from Colorado to Florida instantly, illustrates the strength of Danny's power. It's clear why the Overlook would want to absorb such an immense power and chilling to imagine what might happen to the Overlook if it were to succeed.

Dick's choice of lying to his current manager, pretending his son is in trouble, reveals the depth of Dick's feeling for Danny. Dick has no children, so in a sense Danny may be the closest thing to a son he has in his life. The story comes to Dick naturally, and the manager asks few questions to challenge him. Dick does ask himself why he is willing to risk his life to save "three white people he didn't even know." On the surface, it does seem like a foolish errand. Dick doesn't know Jack or Wendy in any meaningful sense. He's only had one conversation with Danny, but this devotion to Danny reflects the depth of the connection inherent in shining. Dick and Danny have been inside one another's minds, a connection more intimate than any other humans can share. In the short time they have known each other, the shine has given them a bond.

In the context of the Overlook Hotel's power, few events look like coincidence. Dick's speeding ticket, which causes him to miss the next available flight to Colorado by mere minutes, could just be bad luck. Dick has a long history of speeding tickets in Florida. The timing of it raises questions. If Danny, a small boy, is strong enough to send a telepathic message from Chicago to Florida, is it possible the Overlook Hotel is able to influence a few events to keep Dick off a flight until the following day? Dick's flight is booked on United Airlines, the carrier Horace Derwent is rumored to own, which raises other questions about Derwent's connection to the current events unfolding in the Overlook. These links may be purely coincidental, but they also suggest the possibility of the Overlook's evil as a vast web of supernatural corruption, power, and deceit.

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