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The Shining

The Shining

by Stephen King

Time Theme

This theme of time deepens and confuses The Shining. By juxtaposing the novel's present 1975 setting with the other important times at the Overlook, most notably a 1945 masquerade ball, Stephen King creates a temporally uncertain world. Time runs according to a twisted logic which lets the dead mingle with the living. In addition to the ghosts at the Overlook, Jack Torrance has to battle the ghosts inside him – the ghost of his dead father, as well as the memories of his own violent acts. That Jack becomes very similar to his abusive father, and frequently relives tragic events from his past, emphasizes time moving in a strange way, even in a cycle. The novel questions whether knowing what the future might bring can give us the power to change it. Danny's premonitions and loving behavior allow him to break this cycle of family violence, and at the end of the novel, the Overlook's strange cycles of violence and murders are also put to an end with the destruction of the hotel.

Questions About Time

  1. Are there any parallels between 1945 and 1975? Why might King have chosen 1945 as the time when the Overlook becomes powerfully evil?
  2. Does the Overlook's past history have any similarities with Jack's past history?
  3. How might Danny's experiences at the Overlook impact his future?
  4. Why don't the things Danny and Halloran see as happening in the future always come true?

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