Study Guide

The Shining Chapter 14

By Stephen King

Chapter 14

Up on the Roof

  • Jack is up on the roof and a wasp stings him on the finger. If there are more wasps, things could get ugly.
  • The nest blocks his path to the ladder; he's up seventy feet high; the door from the roof to the attic is locked from within.
  • Jack's finger is swollen; he decides to try to make a run for it.
  • It's October 20th today. Wendy and Danny are in town buying fresh milk and some Christmas presents.
  • The weather is gorgeous, which is why Jack decides to shingle the roof. Working in the open air is having a healing effect on him.
  • He's actually been on the lookout for wasps, but he'd felt so peaceful he'd let his guard down. When the wasp stung him, he'd been thinking about the characters in his play, which was going really well. Over the past twelve nights, he'd gotten over his writer's block and thinks the play will be finished by the time the new year rolls in.
  • He looks into the section of rotten weather proofing he'd been taking out when the wasp had stung him. The wasps' nest is in there. It's really big and crawling with wasps.
  • Jack thinks about being an alcoholic. He thinks:

    It had nothing to do with willpower, or the morality of drinking, or the weakness or strength of his own character. There was a broken switch inside, or a circuit breaker that didn't work. (14.34)

  • His temper is just as hard to control as his drinking; he's been trying all his life.
  • (Flashback.)
  • When Jack is seven he throws a rock at a car because he's mad at a neighbor for telling him not to play with matches. Jack's father sees him throw the rock and "redden[s] Jack's behind…and then black[s] his eye" (14.35), right in front of the house.
  • Afterwards, Jack finds a stray dog and kicks it.
  • He gets in fights in school all the time, all the way up through high school.
  • He doesn't feel like a mean person, he feels like a nice person trying to control his temper.
  • Then he breaks Danny's arm and hurts George Hatfield.
  • All of this makes him feel like "he had stuck his hand in The Great Wasps' Nest of Life" (14.36).
  • He feels like he's no longer fully human, just a huge bundle of "nerve endings" (14.36).
  • (Flashback to the George Hatfield incident.)
  • George is a good looking, sulky blond teenager. Jack isn't jealous of his looks, or anything like that.
  • George excels at sports and soccer, but is not very interested in academics.
  • George tries out for the debate team, mostly because George's father, a corporate lawyer, wants him to. Jack picks him.
  • George develops a huge passion for debate. He'll debate any subject. But, he stutters. It doesn't come out in the classroom, but does in the actual debates. Since the debates are timed, George can never get his words out quickly enough for success.
  • One day George angrily accuses Jack of adjusting the timer to keep him from getting his full amount of time. He also thinks Jack is the cause of his stutter.
  • Jack loses his cool and tells Jack he'll never make it in the world stuttering, and then he imitates George's stuttering. He knows George might be asking for help, but for some reason he gloats at the fact that George is coming up against something money can't buy – fluidity of speech.
  • Jack feels guilty after George runs from the room.
  • The week after this, Jack tells George he's off the team. This time, Jack is cool, even though George yells at him.
  • The week after, Jack finds George in the parking lot slashing his tires. Jack starts punching George and then sort of blanks out. When he comes to he realizes he's beaten George. The rest of the debate team is watching.
  • (End flashback.)
  • Jack isn't sure how long he's been sitting on the roof.
  • He decides to climb down the ladder and go get a "bug bomb" (14.93) to kill the wasps. Then he can give the nest to Danny for his room, if he wants it. Jack had an empty wasp nest in his room as a kid.
  • Jack is sure he's "getting better" (14.95). The Overlook is the perfect place for him to heal.
  • As he climbs down the ladder for the bug killer he thinks, "They would pay for stinging him. They would pay" (14.96).

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