Literature Study GuidesThe ShiningPart 5 Chapter 46 Summary

The Shining | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Shining | Part 5, Chapter 46 : Matters of Life and Death, Wendy | Summary

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Summary

Around noon, Wendy offers to make lunch. Danny doesn't know where Jack is, but he knows it's safe for Wendy to go to the kitchen. She takes the big knife with her. She hears sounds in the hotel like an unsteady radio signal. She checks around every corner and piece of furniture for Jack, but he is nowhere to be found. She makes soup and omelets in the kitchen.

Wendy leaves the tray of food at the registration desk and checks the bar and dining room for Jack. She finds him sprawled on the floor of the bar. She offers to help him upstairs. He scoffs at her offer of help and grabs her ankle. As he gets to his feet, he accuses her of trying to drag him down and conspiring with Danny against him. He grabs her throat and squeezes. He only stops when Danny comes into the room, climbs up on the bar, and jumps on Jack's back. Jack lets go of Wendy to knock Danny away. Danny lands nearby, dazed from the fall, and Jack's hand returns to Wendy's throat. She fumbles for a wine bottle candleholder and hits Jack in the head with it, knocking him out.

Wendy explains to Danny that the hotel put the alcohol in the bar for Jack. The hotel is controlling Jack now. She gets Danny to help her drag Jack into the pantry. He will have food and water there. He will be warm. They will be safe from him until help can arrive and take them all away from the Overlook. She thinks if Jack can get away from the Overlook, he might come back to his senses. Jack regains consciousness just as Wendy is locking him inside the pantry. He shouts obscenities and threats. Danny says, "It's the hotel. I remember."

Analysis

Jack's fight with Wendy and Danny reveals how far he has devolved under the influence of the Overlook and, now, alcohol. Although Jack broke Danny's arm when Danny was young, he didn't intend to hurt the child so badly. He did intend to spank Danny, so the arm break isn't a true accident, but a case of a bad situation that went too far. In all of Wendy's memories of her early marriage and Jack's bad behavior, there is no evidence that he has ever assaulted her. They have fought before, but the confrontation in the Colorado Lounge crosses into wholly new territory. Jack wants to strangle Wendy and almost succeeds. Only with Danny's help and her own force of will does she survive the attack. Furthermore, the same Jack who has carried years of guilt over Danny's broken arm now swats the child to the floor as if he were an insect. The real Jack may be in there somewhere, still, but the Overlook's power over him has made him nearly unrecognizable.

Jack spent much of his life rationalizing excuses for his bad behavior and thinking of himself as a victim of circumstances, denying his part in his own misfortunes. Now that the Overlook Hotel has taken over his mind and body, Jack really isn't in control of his actions. The Overlook has turned Jack into the victim he has always claimed to be. Just because the Overlook is now in the driver's seat, that doesn't absolve Jack of responsibility for his current condition. He has had many chances to reject the Overlook's influence and get himself and his family away from the hotel. Before the snows began, Jack was aware of the Overlook's malevolence, and he let it in anyway. His years of thinking of himself as a passive victim and the choice he made to think of himself that way have turned him into the Overlook's victim.

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