Study Guide

It Community

By Stephen King

Community

The thing was to get through this one, to get the power back on, and then to forget it. In Derry such forgetting of tragedy and disaster was almost an art, as Bill Denbrough would come to discover in the course of time. (1.1.10)

Right from the beginning, we get a sense of the amnesia that permeates Derry. This town likes to forget anything bad that goes down…and focus almost pathologically on the positive.

The Canal Days Festival, which ran from July 15th to July 21st, had been a rousing success, most Derry residents agreed: a great thing for the city’s morale, image…and pocketbook. (2.3.1)

One of the keys to Derry's penchant for forgetting? Well, when you don't dwell on bad stuff it's a lot easier to make those Benjamins, baby.

Can an entire city be haunted? Haunted as some houses are supposed to be haunted? (Derry: The First Interlude.2)

Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Yesssssssss. Mike wonders about Derry being haunted, and, well, the whole of It answers.

And her mother says Laurie Ann had been well trained about not approaching or talking to strangers, a lesson most Derry children learn early and well. (Derry: The Second Interlude.13)

This has a double meaning—way to go, Mr. King. The first is that Derry is basically like all good small towns and suburban locals: "don't talk to strangers" is kind of like "don't talk with your mouth full." But it's also about, you know, not getting seduced and slaughtered by Pennywise.

[…] and just a feeling that Derry was cold, that Derry was hard, that Derry didn’t much give a s*** if any of them lived or died, and certainly not if they triumphed over Pennywise the Clown. Derryfolk had lived with Pennywise in all his guises for a long time…and maybe, in some mad way, they had even come to understand him. To like him, need him. Love him? Maybe. Yes, maybe that too. (10.1.25)

Oof. Harsh, but maybe kinda true. Derry has lived in the shadow of Pennywise for so long that maybe the town as a whole is reluctant to see It go. Especially because financial prosperity seems to go hand in hand with Pennywise terrorizing the town.

“Yes,” he said. “A lot of things have changed in Derry…but a lot of things also seem to have remained the same.” (11.1.50)

This is…very true. Ben says this when he's a) trying to get a new library card and b) being harassed by Pennywise at the public library. The library has some fun new additions…but P-Wise is still skulking about.

But then the News had proclaimed the end of Derry’s long night on the front page of its December 6th edition, and even an ijit like Henry knew that in Derry night never ended. (12.1.18)

Henry Bowers, the psychobully of Derry, is convicted for the murders of basically everyone killed in '58. When that happens, the Derry news wants to celebrate a new era of peace. But Henry knows better: he didn't kill all those people, and the It that did isn't gone for good.

As with the fire at the Black Spot, many Derry residents affect not to remember what happened that day. Or they were out of town, visiting relatives. Or they were napping that afternoon and never found out what had happened until they heard it on the radio news that night. Or they will simply look you full in the face and lie to you. (Derry: The Third Interlude.4)

A weird quirk of the Derry population is an ability to totally block out anything bad that happens. Killer clowns? Racist spree killings? Weird town shoot-outs? Better to just forget and move on.

Believe it, Mikey. If you know how to use your head, you’ll get out of here, out of Derry, right now. If you don’t know how to use it, it’ll end up just like this one here. Today’s guidepost along the great road of life is use it before you lose it, my good man. (14.1.21)

Yeah, when even the severed head of Stan Uris is telling Mike it's time to leave Derry behind…maybe it's true. Or maybe not. Derry is a hellmouth, but Mike knows the best way to shut the mouths of severed heads forever is to kill It.

It was the smell of It, and perhaps it had been strongest in the Barrens but it had hung over all Derry like a cloud and people just didn’t smell it, the way zookeepers don’t smell their charges after a while, or even wonder why the visitors wrinkle their noses when they come in. (23.2.4)

Derry: a town that embodies the adage "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Usually, that’s a fairly benign philosophy to take. But when real, pure evil takes up residence in the town sewers…

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