Study Guide

Danny Torrance in The Shining

By Stephen King

Danny Torrance

In many ways, Danny is every parent's dream. He's intelligent, patient, loving, adventuresome, forgiving, and kind. Everybody who sees him recognizes he's something special, even the gloomy Overlook manager, Ullman. Part of Stephen King's mass appeal is his ability to tap into childhood, to take the child's perspective on some deep dark matters. Children often perceive much more of adults' doings than adults often suspect. King's decision to delve into the mind of this unusual five-year-old is brilliant and bold and very scary.

As you probably already know, Danny can read minds, which might or might not knock him out of the running for the every-parent's dream kid contest. Like some of King's other supernatural child and young adult stars, including Carrie from King's first novel, Carrie, Danny struggles with his abilities in relative isolation. He doesn't know if there are others of his kind, nor quite what to do with what's inside him. Neither do his parents, in part because Danny's gift comes with some very alarming behavior.

The hardest thing to talk about in terms of Danny is the issue of child abuse. In Jack's section we talk lots about father-son relationships, so be sure to check that out for more on this aspect of Danny. Jack's father abused him regularly, and Jack physically injures Danny three times. 1) He drops baby Danny when drunk. 2) Also drunk, he breaks Danny's arm when Danny tears up his study and pours beer on Jack's writing. 3) Sober, but under the influence of the Overlook, Jack slaps Danny for calling him out on his experience with the moving hedge animals.

Danny knows but doesn't know that Jack is the one chasing him with the mallet in his visions. As we delve into in "What's Up With the Title?" (which is chock full of Danny), Danny's will to love his father and his unwavering belief in his father's love for him are the things that save him from death. In "What's Up With the Ending?" we suggest that Danny's love for his father and his courage in standing up to him may have broken the cycle of father on son violence that haunts the Torrance family. Read it and see what you think…

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