Study Guide

It Coming of Age

By Stephen King

Coming of Age

She went quickly down the steps and Ben saw everything with his lover’s eye: the bright tartan of her skirt, the bounce of her red hair against the back of her sweater, her milky complexion, a small healing cut across the back of one calf, and (for some reason this last caused another wave of feeling to sweep him so powerfully he had to grope for the railing again; the feeling was huge, inarticulate, mercifully brief; perhaps a sexual pre-signal, meaningless to his body, where the endocrine glands still slept almost without dreaming, yet as bright as summer heat-lightning) a bright golden ankle bracelet she wore just above her right loafer, winking back the sun in brilliant little flashes. (4.3.12)

You know what coming-of-age means: crushes galore. Ben has it bad for Bev…and he's just beginning to understand all that that entails.

“Hi-yo Silver AWAYYY!”

The words came out deeper than his normal speaking voice—it was almost the voice of the man he would become. (5.5.1)

When Bill is anguished or excited or being brave, he speaks with a manly voice: a preview of the adult he'll be in a few short years.

“Yeah, sure,” Eddie said. He sat down on the bank and undressed his feet while his mother ranted inside his head…but her voice was growing steadily more distant and echoey, he was relieved to note, as if someone had stuck a heavy fishhook through the back of her blouse and was now reeling her away from him down a very long corridor. (7.2.58)

A lot of Eddie's growing up comes in the form of standing up to his domineering mother—both in person and when he can feel the presence of her nagging.

She had started getting them late last year. There had been some faint pain at first, but that was gone now. They were extremely small—not much more than spring apples, really—but they were there. It was true; childhood would end; she would be a woman. (9.3.1)

Beverly is pubescent, and she's experiencing everything that comes along with that. She's hyper-aware of the fact, especially because she has an abusive father who sexualizes her.

“‘I’m going to run down everyone you get out,’ I said. ‘I’m going to run down your best. And then I want a f***ing apology from you.’" (10.3.57)

Ben comes of age in a big way when he stands up to a coach who makes fun of his weight…and decides to discipline his body and become a super-fast track star.

They’re ascared of him now, Mike thought suddenly, and a new voice spoke inside of him, perhaps for the first time, a voice that was disturbingly adult. They’re ascared, but that won’t stop them. You got to get away, Mikey, or something’s going to happen. (13.7.17)

Mike, the only Black kid in Derry, has a coming of age that's intertwined with his race. He realizes the extent of racism in Derry…and how deeply hatred can run. It's one of the more depressing coming of age stories in It.

No, because George was dead, and if revenge could be exacted at all, Bill suspected it could only be exacted on behalf of the living. And what did that make him? A selfish little s*** waving a tin sword and trying to make himself look like King Arthur?

Oh Christ, he groaned to himself, if this is the stuff adults have to think about I never want to grow up. (14.6.84)

You know what's a sure sign you're starting to grow up? Thinking about what grown-ups have to think about. Bill is beginning to understand not only who he is, but who he appears to be. That's pretty adult, Bill.

Bill was smiling, unaware that Richie was looking at him wisely—looking at him not as one child looks at another but, in that brief moment, as an adult looks at a child. He doesn’t know that he doesn’t always, Richie thought. (15.2.27)

Richie is a clever little dude with a penchant for characters. He likes to do voices, but his voices are based on very close observation: here he's training his keen eye on Bill.

That Other had, through their friendship, perhaps been able to make them something more than children. But they were becoming children again. Bill felt it as much as the others. (22.7.15)

There's a weird trajectory the Losers take: they grow up incredibly fast in order to have the wherewithal the fight It, and then they slide back into childhood. But once you've lost your innocence, you can never really go back.

He touches his wife’s smooth back as she sleeps her warm sleep and dreams her own dreams; he thinks that it is good to be a child, but it is also good to be grownup and able to consider the mystery of childhood...its beliefs and desires. (Epilogue.8.1)

Grown-up Bill realizes that he can never be a kid again. Sad, but true. But at least as an adult you can reflect on the wonders of childhood, even though that's a door that's closed forever.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...