Study Guide

Beverly Marsh in It

By Stephen King

Beverly Marsh

Poor Beverly doesn't have a great home life as a kid…and doesn't have a great home life as an adult. Let's take things sequentially and examine what's lacking in the Marsh household when Bev's a girl. (Psst: we also cover this in the Symbols section.)

Pain And Suffering

So...Beverly has a bunch of problems. Out in the world, she's afraid of bullies like Henry Bowers and the rumors of a Derry kiddie-killer on the loose. But it's when she gets home that things really get bad, because her daddy dearest, Al Marsh, is a really piece of work.

Al is abusive on all sorts of levels. He hits Beverly frequently, and doubles down with psychological abuse to tell her it's just because he worries about her. And, while we're spared any sort of graphic scene confirming this, it's suggested that he's sexually attracted to his daughter's developing body. It's all just…awful.

And it goes a long way to explain why It manifests to Beverly as blood coming out of the bathroom sink:

A gout of blood suddenly belched from the drain, splattering the sink and the mirror and the wallpaper with its frogs-and-lilypads pattern. Beverly screamed, suddenly and piercingly. She backed away from the sink, struck the door, rebounded, clawed it open, and ran for the living room, where her father was just getting to his feet. (9.2.17)

The blood suggests not only the blood and bruising brought about by her father's physical assaults, but the fear Beverly has about her father's violent outbursts getting worse as she approaches maturation. As Beverly has developed breasts, her father has become more aggressive and unhinged; once she gets her period, however, there's no telling what Al Marsh might be capable of.

That's why a shower of blood—symbolic of both her father's physical assaults and her soon-to-arrive first menstruation—is more terrifying to Beverly than any vampire or Japanese kaiju could ever be.

Marrying Her Father

Unfortunately for Beverly, she's finds herself caught in a cycle of abuse. The man she marries, Tom Rogan, is perhaps worse than her father. He berates, abuses, and gaslights Beverly within an inch of her life—seriously, he almost kills her.

Although Beverly finds financial success as an adult, that's pretty much the only respect in which she's successful. Tom Rogan own her fashion design company, and keeps her covered in bruises. It's not until Mike calls to bring her back to Derry that she's able to get away.

Once Beverly remembers Derry, she remembers Bill: the boy she had a big ol' crush on back in the day. In fact, her recollections of '58 revolve around her love for Bill, her awareness of her developing body, and her anger when the boys try to prevent her from doing something dangerous on the basis of her sex.

When she gets back to Derry in '85, she encounters It in the form of both the witch from Hansel and Gretel and her father, both of which want to "eat her up." Mere hours after this encounter, she has sex with Bill Denbrough. And, less than forty-eight hours after that, she decides to move to Nebraska with Ben.

It's a whirlwind, to be sure. And it’s more than a smidge problematic: as a child, Beverly is allowed to be spunky and spritely, but throughout the book she tends to be defined in terms of her relationships to the men and boys around her.

And, if you think we're overreacting, there's also the fact that It contains an infamous and deeply controversial scene: in an effort to help them connect to one another, eleven-year-old Beverly has sex with all six of her Loser friends in a row.

Gross? Absolutely…and made grosser by the fact that this is the rationale she gives for initiating the group sex:

“I know something,” Beverly said in the dark, and to Bill her voice sounded older. “I know because my father told me. I know how to bring us back together." (22.7.18)

You can read more about the infamous scene here... because we kind of want to forget it ever happened.

But honestly? Even without that scene, Beverly's character is tinged with a slight misogyny that views girls as beings primarily molded by their interactions with men.

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