Study Guide

The Shining Isolation

By Stephen King


You can't get much more isolated than the Overlook Hotel, unless maybe you peek inside the minds of the Torrances. Like the hotel, this family has its share of old ghosts. Also like the hotel, these mental ghosts contribute to the isolation. We can see the Overlook as the Torrances last stop on a journey of progressively deeper isolation – isolation of the mind and isolation from fellow humans. Both Jack and Wendy are distant from their dysfunctional families. Jack's alcoholism and bad temper are probably the biggest factors in his immediate family's isolation. Danny's ability to read minds and see what might happen in the future is extremely isolating for him. At five, he must deal with something that isn't given credence within his society. When he meets Dick Halloran, who has similar abilities, this sense of isolation is eased somewhat, because Danny has found another of his kind. Although the novel focuses on isolation, it also looks at how isolation can be broken through with love and courage.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Does Danny's ability isolate him, or connect him with others, or both?
  2. Is isolation always a negative thing? For example, if the Overlook hadn't been haunted, could isolation have been good for Jack as a writer, for the Torrances as a family?
  3. Does the idea of ghosts connect with the idea of isolation?
  4. Does Jack's writing isolate him, or connect him?

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