Study Guide

It What's Up With the Epigraph?

By Stephen King

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What's Up With the Epigraph?

Folks, we got a three-fer:

“This old town been home long as I remember
This town gonna be here long after I’m gone.
East side west side take a close look ’round her
You been down but you’re still in my bones.”
—The Michael Stanley Band

“Old friend, what are you looking for?
After those many years abroad you come
With images you tended
Under foreign skies
Far away from your own land.”
—George Seferis

“Out of the blue and into the black.”
—Neil Young

Stephen King does not skimp of epigraphs. There are three epigraphs to the novel itself, epigraphs to introduce the various parts of the novel, and epigraphs to kick off the various Derry Interludes.

But we're looking at these three, chosen specifically to welcome—er, warn?—the reader starting in on It.

The first epigraph is a lyric from the beginning "My Town" by the Michael Stanley Band. The gist of the song is this: this is my town, dangit, and I'm going to fight for it. It's a song about nostalgia, youth, and standing up for what you believe in. So, yeah: we'll go ahead and say it fits with the themes of It.

The next epigraph comes from Giorgios Seferis' poem "The Return of the Exile," which circles around the concept of nostalgia. Although...while the Losers are coming back into Derry from their respective "exiles," they haven't lived with a whole lot of nostalgia. That's because they've all suffered near-total amnesia, which has blotted out their childhood memories.

The last comes from Neil Young's song " Hey, Hey, My, My." Not only do these exact lyrics align with It's themes pretty exactly—man, Stephen King is good at this epigraph thing!—because the Losers are summoned pretty much out of the blue and thrust back into the evil darkness of Derry, but the whole song works neatly as a corollary to It. It's a song that evokes images of early rock n' roll (Elvis) while repeating that the past is deader than a doornail. Which is kind of similar to It—the Losers' rock n' roll-era childhood is gone, never to return.

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