Study Guide

The Shining Versions of Reality

By Stephen King

Versions of Reality

Chapter 1
Jack Torrance

"It's a slang term for the claustrophobic reaction that can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time. The feeling of claustrophobia is externalized as dislike for the people you happen to be shut in with. In extreme cases it can result in hallucinations and violence—murder […]." (1.64)

This is Jack defining "cabin fever" for Ullman on his job interview. Next time you go on a job interview, you can use these lines, too.

Chapter 4
Jack Torrance

Come out! Come out, you little s***. Take your medicine!" (4.45).

Danny hears these lines for the first when he's with Tony, early in the novel. It won't be the last time, that's for sure. These are the lines Jack's father used on Jack, and which Jack will use on Danny in the not so distant future.

Beside his Daddy, in the other front seat, was a short-handled mallet, its head clotted with blood and hair. (4.66)

Danny isn't quite back to the world of real things when he greets Jack after getting his first glimpse of redrum from Tony. Since he's so young and innocent, and loves Jack so much, he doesn't put together the fact that Jack is the guy holding the mallet in the sinister visions.

Chapter 12

"Great splashes of dried blood, flecked with tiny bits of grayish-white tissue" (12.39)

Danny is living in two or more realities at once when he sees the bloody wall of the Presidential Suite, as becomes clear when the blood starts oozing freshly from the wall a bit later on. This goes nicely with the theme of time in the novel.

Chapter 23

He saw no need to mention his hallucination. (23.62)

By hallucination, Jack means the moving hedge lions. He seems to know it was more than that, but admitting it would mean admitting they must leave the Overlook. Jack would prefer to think he's going insane.

Chapter 25
Danny Torrance

(nothing there nothing there not there at all NOTHING THERE THERE IS NOTHING!) (25.48)

This is what Danny's thinking just before the woman in 217 chokes him. Denial just doesn't seem to work around here.

Chapter 26
Jack Torrance

(little Jacky now he was little Jacky now dozing and mumbling on a cobwebby camp chair while the furnace roared into hollow life behind him) (26.13)

The roaring furnace things makes sense when we know what little Jacky dreams next – his father brutally beating his mother with a cane when Jack was nine years old. A part of Jack will always live in that sphere of reality.

Chapter 43

It wasn't a perception of sight or sound, although it was very near to those things, separated from those senses by the filmiest of perceptual curtains. (43.4)

This refers to Jack's perception of "the Overlook Hotel coming to life" (43.3). When we examine The Shining closely we'll find that King's vision of the supernatural and of alternative realities is complex and thoughtful.

Chapter 46
Wendy Torrance

(Don't push the facts away this time, girl. There are certain realities, as lunatic as this situation may be. One of them is that you are the only responsible person left in this grotesque pile. […])(46.2).

In Wendy's "Character Analysis" we argue that one of her strengths is her ability to accurately and honestly assess reality, even when the reality is supernatural.

Chapter 58
Danny Torrance

"Sometimes I wish it had been me. It was my fault. All my fault." (58.52)

Guilt will probably be a part of Danny's reality for a long time. Perhaps surprisingly, Halloran doesn't disagree with him when he says this! He doesn't agree either? We would totally disagree, but what do you think. Is Danny guilty of something?

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