Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 5 Chapter 44 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 5, Chapter 44 : Matters of Life and Death, Conversations at the Party | Summary

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Summary

Lubricated with martinis, Jack circulates through the crowd at the party, chatting with a former radio comedian, dancing with a beautiful woman. He develops an erection as he dances with the woman. She invites him upstairs, saying she's with Harry, but "he's too busy teasing poor Roger." She explains Harry—Horace Derwent—is bisexual. Derwent and Roger were lovers briefly, but Derwent doesn't keep his same-sex partners for long. Derwent tells Roger he might reconsider if Roger comes to the party as a "cute doggy." Now Derwent is making Roger do dog tricks for him and his friends.

When the dance ends, the woman leaves Jack to chat with a friend. An English voice offers Jack a drink. The voice belongs to Delbert Grady. Jack says, "You were the caretaker!" Grady tells Jack, "You're the caretaker, sir. You've always been the caretaker." Grady says the same manager hired them both at the same time, and Grady has "always been here." He says the manager is the hotel.

Grady advises Jack of Danny's activities and tells Jack Danny "needs to be corrected" just as Grady corrected his daughters when they came to the Overlook. Danny is trying to bring "an outside party" to the hotel to intervene. Jack responds by asking about Grady's education while Derwent commands his "doggy" in the background. Grady says the "manager" has seen to his education and speculates how far Jack could rise in the "Overlook's organizational structure" with his superior background. But Jack must deal with Danny. Jack shouts, "I'll handle it."

Grady shows Jack the clock in the ballroom. The figures inside the clock show a man beating a boy wearing a dunce cap with a mallet. Blood spatters inside the glass dome. Jack screams, and when he turns around, the ballroom is empty. The time is 8:30 a.m. Jack returns to the Colorado Lounge to find it empty, too. Wendy and Danny are locked behind a door. Jack feels lonely and wishes he were dead.

Analysis

Horace Derwent's presence at this party is perplexing; it calls into question some previous implications about the Overlook. In the previous chapter Danny fears dying at the Overlook because he believes his spirit will join all the others in the hotel. The party seems to be a gathering of the hotel's spiritual inhabitants. But Horace Derwent is still alive and in Chicago as of November. Since news reports aren't available after the snow comes, it's possible he has died and returned to the Overlook. It's also possible Derwent's presence represents a continuity error in The Shining. If Derwent's presence at the party isn't an error, and if he is alive in Chicago, this implies the Overlook contains forces that can bend and manipulate time. This might explain Delbert Grady's otherwise cryptic remark that Jack has always been the hotel's caretaker and Grady has always been at the hotel.

The costume party reveals the identity of the dogman who menaces Danny in Part 5, Chapter 41. Incredibly, the costume party scene manages to make the creepy entity into a somewhat sympathetic figure. The dogman is just a guy named Roger, a jilted lover trying to please the object of his affection. In return for his efforts he is humiliated and forced to do tricks at the party. Because Danny, with his shine, has already recognized Roger as a spirit, it is safe to conclude Roger is dead. Because he wears the dog costume in his spirit form, it is also reasonable to conclude he died wearing the costume. Roger's final hours are spent performing tricks for the amusement of others.

Roger's storyline closely parallels what happens to Jack at the party, and Jack recognizes this as Grady talks to him. Just as Roger has essentially sold his dignity to Horace Derwent, Jack has sold his loyalty to the Overlook Hotel. Roger now exists to obey commands and do tricks, as does Jack. Roger's trick is to sit up and beg; Jack's assigned trick is to kill his family, delivering his son to the Overlook as requested. But unlike Roger, Jack bristles at taking orders. The Overlook has exploited Jack's literary ambition, his touchy relationship with his father, and his alcoholism, but in attempting to exploit Jack's rage, it hasn't accounted for Jack's instinctive resistance to authority. Jack agrees to Grady's demands, but he does so impatiently, as if he has not fully committed to following his marching orders.

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