Study Guide

The Shining Mortality

By Stephen King


Questions of mortality haunt the pages of The Shining. Although Danny sees the word redrum and sees that it means murder quite often before Jack tries to kill him and his mother, he doesn't put it together. Part of this is because he can't read well and certainly can't read backwards. Another, bigger part, is because he's innocent. He's aware of death, but has never, ever thought of it in terms of his own parents. In his mind, they are immortal beings. Well, the Overlook opens his eyes in that regard, for sure. By the end of the novel, his take on mortality is quite different. Images and thoughts of murder and suicide haunt this novel, where nobody dies of natural causes, and death is always lurking just around the corner. At the Overlook, you have to fight for life, and win. If not, you'll end up haunting the rooms and halls with all the rest.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Do you believe in ghosts, life after death, or the undead? Does the novel impact your belief system?
  2. Do you think the Overlook is truly dead at the end of the novel, or will its evil force live on?
  3. Why, ultimately, does Jack try to murder his family?
  4. Is there such a thing as a benevolent ghost? Do we see any of these at the Overlook?
  5. Does Jack's father come to him from beyond the grave, or just from inside Jack's memory?

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