Study Guide

The Shining Chapter 21

By Stephen King

Chapter 21

Night Thoughts

  • (The first section of this chapter features Jack's night thoughts.)
  • It's about 10 pm and Jack and Wendy are in bed. Wendy's asleep and Jack is thinking about the call from Al Shockley that had come earlier that evening.
  • Al wants to know why Jack called Ullman. Jack says it was revenge for Ullman acting so superior to Jack when he first interviewed him. Jack says it was a mistake, one he won't repeat.
  • Now Al wants to know about the book Jack is planning. He admits it with excitement. Al gets really mad and accuses Jack of wanting to write a "scum-job" on the hotel Al owns.
  • Jack tries to defend himself, and Al starts listing all the things he's done for Jack. Al says that Jack can keep his job if he promises never to call Ullman again, and if he promises never to write a book on the Overlook.
  • Stunned and hurt about the second condition, Jack chokes with rage. But, he agrees.
  • When Wendy asks about the call, he tells her it was just a courtesy call from Al.
  • He's full of shame over the conversation with Al, and he vows revenge. He will definitely write that book. He's way too tense and nervous to sleep.
  • (Now for Wendy's night thoughts.)
  • Wendy isn't really asleep. She's listening to Jack breathe and wondering about his dreams. Are she and Danny in them? She's not sure the Overlook is good for any of them.
  • She's very concerned about Jack. She thinks, "The most frightening thing […] is that all of Jack's drinking symptoms had come back, one by one…all but the drink itself" (21.73).
  • He wipes his mouth all the time; he isn't typing as fast, and he's throwing out more pages; he's chewing Excedrin; and, he's very snappy and aggravated by everything.
  • She's worried about his temper. She thinks he's holding it in too hard, and he might explode if he doesn't vent it – like the boiler down in the basement. He's stopped all his usual ways of venting, like kicking things. But, she feels like he's mad at her and at Danny, too.
  • And now the call from Al. She knows that Al doesn't call anybody unless it's important.
  • Earlier that night, while putting Danny to bed, she tells him she wonders if Al is upset with Jack. Danny says that he is – Al doesn't want Jack to write a book about the Overlook.
  • She really doesn't buy Dr. Edmund's rationalizations. Danny know things he "ha[s] no way of knowing, at all" (21.88).
  • She remembers that Danny "was born with a caul over his face, a simple tissue of membrane the doctor's saw […] once in every seven hundred births, a tissue that the old wives' tales said betokened second sight" (21.93).
  • Tomorrow she's taking Danny to the library. She's going to be blunt with him and ask him about the hotel. That resolved, she feels a little better and manages to fall asleep.
  • (And now, Danny's night thoughts.)
  • Danny is listening to Wendy and Jack sleep, and thinking about them.
  • The nights are the hardest time for Danny. He knows things are bad here, and he knows Wendy is worried.
  • The day he almost went into Room 217, he was on the verge of telling her what happened with the fire extinguisher hose. Several things stopped him. First, he knows that Dr. Edmunds told his parents Tony and the visions weren't really anything to worry about. Second, he's afraid Wendy will think he is "LOSING HIS MARBLES" (21.101).
  • (Flashback.)
  • Danny is at nursery school back in Vermont. His friend Scott tells him that Robin Stenger's dad "LOST HIS MARBLES."
  • Robin is another kid at the school, a kid who looks very sad. According to Scott, Robin's dad was taken to "THE BUGHOUSE" and will never be allowed out (21.106).
  • Danny hears all kinds of rumors about Mr. Stenger. He doesn't know what to believe, so he asks Jack. Patiently, Jack tells him "that Mr. Stenger had been under a great deal of strain, some of it about his family, some of it about his job, and some of it about things only doctors could understand" (21.113). He'd been unable to stop crying or sleep and had smashed up his house. Jack explains that this is not called "LOOSING YOUR MARBLES," it's called "HAVING A BREAKDOWN" (21.113).
  • He hadn't gone to the BUGHOUSE, but rather, the "SANY-TARIUM"(21.113). Like Scott had said, there are bars in the windows and "THE MEN IN THE WHITE COATS" (21.113). These MEN take you away from home and take you to a place with "soft walls" (21.113).
  • When Danny asks Jack when Mr. Stenger will get to come home, Jack says, "NO ONE KNOWS" (21.117).
  • (End Flashback)
  • Sometimes Danny cries when he thinks about when Jack was involved with "the Bad Stuff" (21.119). He's afraid he won't be able to stop and imagines Jack going to the phone and saying,

    "This is Jack Torrance […]. My son here can't stop crying. Please send THE MEN IN THE WHITE COATS to take him to the SANY-TARIUM. That's right, he's LOST HIS MARBLES. Thank you." (21.119)

  • They've accepted Tony and other things about Danny, but maybe the visit to Dr. Edmunds is the first step before THE MEN IN THE WHITE COATS.
  • He really wishes he could tell them about the hotel; he really doesn't want to be here.
  • But, he knows it's Jack's "last chance" (21.121) to get over the things that have happened. He also knows if he doesn't tell soon, they'll be snowed in and unable to leave.
  • Danny decides that tomorrow he'll try to get Tony to show him if there's a way to stop REDRUM.
  • After Jack and Wendy fall asleep, Danny is still tossing and turning anxiously.

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