Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 5 Chapter 42 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 5, Chapter 42 : Matters of Life and Death, Mid-Air | Summary



Dick gets a flight from Miami to Denver at 6:45 a.m. During the night, he calls the Rocky Mountain National Park Authority to warn them of trouble at the Overlook and ask them to send someone over to check on them. The ranger says he hasn't gotten a CB call and doesn't understand how Dick has gotten his information, since the phone lines are down. Most of the rangers are away trying to rescue a group of mountain climbers stuck in the park, so the Overlook isn't a priority.

As Dick's flight takes off, he hears one more message from Danny, "chopped off cleanly, as if with a knife." Dick fears something has happened to Danny. The woman next to Dick sees his distress. Dick tells her he has a plate in his head from the Korean War. The woman takes this as an opportunity to criticize the CIA and the American propensity for war.


The Park Authority official's reaction to Dick's call shows the difficulty shining can create in the world. People who can't shine don't understand it and don't believe in it. The ranger dismisses Dick's call as a hoax because Dick has no reasonable way of knowing the Torrance family is in trouble. The only proof the ranger can find to corroborate Dick's story is the fact no one is answering the CB radio at the Overlook. The dangerous rescue of the mountain climbers illustrates the treacherous conditions of the mountains. As Wendy observes on the drive to the Overlook on Closing Day, the mountains don't forgive many mistakes. Dick has his priority and task, but the Park Authority has a different mission.

This chapter is not especially kind to the United States government in general. Dick's seatmate criticizes corruption in the CIA, and Dick has his unproductive conversation with the park ranger. These scenes reinforce a notion that authority figures can't be trusted to help, but they can be trusted to cause harm.

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