Study Guide

The Shining Mortality

By Stephen King


Chapter 1
Mr. Ullman

"He murdered his little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and himself the same way. His leg was broken. Undoubtedly so drunk he fell downstairs." (1.60)

Ullman is describing the fate of Delbert Grady and family when they stayed the winter at the Overlook. As is so often the case in The Shining, death and alcohol are never far from each other.

Chapter 3

"I figure there's maybe forty-fifty people died in this hotel since my grandfather opened it for business in 1910." (3.48)

What do you think? Is Watson's body count accurate? He claims there's nothing fishy about any of those deaths. Is he in denial, innocent of the facts, or is he deliberately misleading Jack?

Chapter 4


OK, for some reason, Tony explains MURDER to Danny by showing him the word backwards in the mirror. Since Tony operates on some kind of subconscious level, and is really a part of Danny, it makes some kind of sense, and deepens the mystery and intrigue of the tale.

Chapter 5
Jack Torrance

Those were the times that his mind would turn thoughtfully and sanely to the gun or the rope or the razor blade. (5.25)

Jack is describing the self loathing he feels when he comes home from nights of drunken carousing to find Danny and Wendy asleep on the couch waiting for him. But, by the time the next night rolls around he always feels better about himself and ready to repeat the whole process.

Chapter 26
Jack Torrance

"Because each man kills the thing he loves." (26.30)

Jack hears his father speak these words from the radio. It's unclear whether these are repetitions of words his father actually said, or if they are new. The line is actually a quote from Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Goal.

Chapter 44
Delbert Grady and Family

"My own girls didn't care for the Overlook, sir. One of them actually stole a pack of matches and tried to burn it down. I corrected them. I corrected them most harshly. And when my wife tried to stop me from doing my duty, I corrected her." (44.66)

By "corrected" we know Delbert Grady means "killed." The undead version of Grady definitely wants Jack to follow in his footsteps. In spite of the horror of this, Grady's lines are so outrageously evil they lend the story some comic relief.

Chapter 55

The face in front of him changed. […] But suddenly his daddy was there, looking at him in mortal agony, and a sorrow so great that Danny's heart flamed within his chest. […] (55.59)

This is Danny's last vision of the 'real' Jack before he dies. It points to Danny's extreme sensitivity and tenderness, especially where Jack is concerned. It also points to increasing understanding of mortality.

Danny Torrance

"The boiler! […] It hasn't been dumped since this morning! It's going up! It's going to explode!" (55.85)

When Danny reminds Jack of the boiler, he sends him down to his death, though he probably doesn't know it at the time. This is one of many reasons Danny feels so guilty.

Chapter 56
Jack Torrance

"[…] dissolving, losing thought and will […], searching, not finding, going out, going out to, fleeing, going out to emptiness, notness, crumbling" (56.42).

What an eloquent and lonely vision and dying. Does this passage tell us anything about where Jack is going next or what will happen to him? If so, where or what? If not, have any ideas?

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