Study Guide

It Good vs Evil

By Stephen King

Good vs Evil

"If there has ever been a genuinely evil kid strutting across the skin of the world, Ricky Lee, Henry Bowers was that kid. I wasn’t the only kid he used to take after; my problem was, I couldn’t run as fast as some of the others." (3.3.19)

Ben is assigning the description of "evil" to Henry Bowers…the pre-possession Henry Bowers. What do you think: was Henry evil?

TV monsters and movie monsters and comic-book monsters were not real. Not until you went to bed and couldn’t sleep; not until the last four pieces of candy, wrapped in tissues and kept under your pillow against the evils of the night, were gobbled up; not until the bed itself turned into a lake of rancid dreams and the wind screamed outside and you were afraid to look at the window because there might be a face there […] (4.11.20)

When we first meet Ben, he's a guy who fights "the evils of the night" by gorging himself with candy and other junk food. When we leave him, he's a man who has faced real evil twice and learned self control…or maybe he's just sublimated his desire for food?

There are a few people in the streets he’s passing, and a pedestrian or two on the walkways of the overpasses—they give lie to the impression that he has somehow wandered into a Lovecrafty tale of doomed cities, ancient evils, and monsters with unpronounceable names. (7.1.3)

Eddie, driving through Boston, feels spooked. The evil of It has somehow permeated a thriving, people-filled city hundreds of miles south of Derry. That's some powerful bad juju.

She looks out the window, looks down, and thinks that Tom’s evil is a small and petty thing compared with the evil waiting for her in Derry. (9.1.23)

For Beverly, the supernatural evil of It dwarfs the insidious everyday evil of an abusive husband.

And now I wonder if that blind thing might not have been at work even then, drawing him back so I could take my place in that circle in the Barrens that August evening. If the wheels of the universe are in true, then good always compensates for evil—but good can be awful as well. (Derry: The Second Interlude.50)

Mike thinks back to his mom and dad getting together, and then moving back to Derry. Was that all part of the grand plan? Is the waltz of good and evil constant and never-ending?

He stood awhile longer, convinced that he must see something—some manifestation—of the evil he had come back to Derry to fight. There was nothing. He heard water running, a springlike and vital sound that reminded him of the dam they had built down there. He could see trees and bushes ruffling in the faint breeze. There was nothing else. No sign. (11.5.35)

Sometimes evil is absolutely invisible…and sometimes it's a psycho-killer clown with a death wish. In It, you never can tell which it's going to be—which is why the book is so absolutely tense and terrifying.

"The Plains Indians called it a manitou, which sometimes took the shape of a mountain-lion or an elk or an eagle. These same Indians believed that the spirit of a manitou could sometimes enter them, and at these times it was possible for them to shape the clouds themselves into representations of those animals for which their houses had been named. The Himalayans called it a tallus or taelus, which meant an evil magic being that could read your mind and then assume the shape of the thing you were most afraid of. In Central Europe it had been called eylak, brother of the vurderlak, or vampire." (13.4.22)

Through a bit of research at the local library, the Losers realize that they're battling something that isn't specific to Derry, Maine. This thing exists everywhere—from the Himalayas to the Great Plains—and throughout time.

Her father was gone. And Beverly suddenly understood that she was alone in the apartment with It, alone with It on this dozy August morning. There was not the thick sense of power and untinctured evil she had felt in the house on Neibolt Street a week and a half ago—It had been diluted somehow by her father’s essential humanity—but It was here, working through him. (19.213)

Here we learn a bit about the way Its evil works. It's more powerful when It is rolling solo, but still a force to contend with when It is possessing someone else.

Beverly felt a sense of evil power growing around her, seeming to enfold her, certainly trying to split her off from the others and make her alone. (21.6.26)

Beverly is privy to a lot of intel about the mysterious ways in which It's evil moves. In the tunnels, she realizes that It wants to split the kids up, in classic horror movie fashion. She knows that there is strength—and maybe also goodness.

He wheeled toward the Spider, heard Its eager mewling, looked into Its timeless, evil eyes, and saw something behind the shape; something much worse than a spider. (22.1.8)

This quote gets at the essential connection between It's evil and It's age: the thing is crazy-old, which has let its evil mature and ripen like a particularly stinky cheese.

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