Study Guide

The Haunting of Hill House Chapter 9

By Shirley Jackson

Chapter 9

  • Eleanor walks out into the house at night. She's barefoot, but the place is "luxuriously warm" (9.2).
  • A voice beckons Eleanor, and she believes it is her mother's. She searches, dancing down the hallway. As she goes, she pounds on all the doors and wakes up the people sleeping in the rooms. Wow, rude sauce.
  • To follow her mother, Eleanor's required to enter the horror of all horrors. We mean, of course, the library.
  • Eleanor realizes there will be no stone lions or oleanders or cup of stars for her. Just Hill House. And with that, she decides to climb the iron stairway.
  • The others enter the library, and for a moment, Eleanor can't remember any of them. They remember her, though, and are legitimately freaking out—except for Mrs. Montague, who's just annoyed.
  • The iron stairway is horribly out of shape, and everyone entices Eleanor to come down before the whole thing collapses on her and on them.
  • Eleanor reaches the trapdoor, but it's been nailed shut. She complains that she can't open it. With that, Luke decides he'd better go up and get her.
  • The iron stairway shakes and groans, but Eleanor and Luke make it safely down.
  • Everyone complains about what Eleanor did, though they are relieved she's safe—except for Mrs. Montague, who's just annoyed.
  • At breakfast the next day, Eleanor is humiliated. Dr. Montague says Luke will bring her car around, and Theodora will pack for her. He's forcing Eleanor to leave Hill House.
  • Eleanor argues, pointing out that Theodora won't have any clothes if she leaves. But good news: Mrs. Montague checked, and there is nothing wrong with Theodora's room. The blood has all disappeared thanks to whatever the spiritual equivalent of hydrogen peroxide is.
  • Eleanor continues to argue. She wonders where she is supposed to go now, and Dr. Montague says home. Too bad she's currently lacking one of those.
  • Mrs. Montague has already taken care of that too. She spoke to Carrie, Eleanor's sister. Carrie was more worried about the car than anything—that is just classic Carrie—but agreed to welcome Eleanor back, if begrudgingly.
  • Eleanor knows what that walled-up nun felt like and believes the house waits for her.
  • Dr. Montague gives Eleanor directions back to Hillsdale. She tries to insist on staying, but Dr. Montague insists right back that she cannot.
  • Time for those goodbyes. Eleanor thanks Luke for bringing her down last night and Dr. Montague for the lovely time. Theodora asks her not to forget to write letters and visit and all that.
  • With the goodbyes out of the way, Eleanor takes the car down the road, thinking: "Journeys end in lovers meeting" (9.113).
  • But wait. Eleanor has a light-bulb moment and thinks up a way to stay at Hill House, forever.
  • Eleanor drives her car at full speed off the driveway and toward a great big tree. Seconds before the crash, she thinks, "Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why don't they stop me?" (9.115). With that, Eleanor Vance dies.
  • At the conclusion, we learn that after Eleanor's death the group stopped the experiment. Theodora returned home, Luke went to Paris, and Dr. Montague published his paper to a less than enthusiastic response.
  • And Hill House, not sane, continues to stand against the hills, and "whatever walk[s] there, walk[s] alone" (9.116).

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