Study Guide

The Shining Isolation

Isolation

ULLMAN: Physically, it's not a very demanding job. The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is eh... the tremendous sense of isolation.

Ullman is smart to understand the dangers of leaving people in total isolation for more than five months. After all, he's seen firsthand what it can do to men like Delbert Grady, who end up snapping and killing their family.

ULLMAN: That's very good Jack, because, for some people, solitude and isolation... can of itself be a problem.

When Jack says he's fine with being isolated for long periods of time, Ullman is right to be skeptical. After all, Jack seems a little too happy go lucky about his job at the Overlook. If he knew what he was getting into, he'd no doubt be a bit more guarded.

ULLMAN: How about your wife and son? How do you think they'll take to it?

Apart from Jack, Ullman wants to know that Jack's wife and son will be okay with the isolation of the Overlook. He knows that Jack has a writing project to work on, but Wendy and Danny might end up with nothing to do at all.

ULLMAN: He ran amok and killed his family with an axe.

Ullman is hesitant to tell the story about how Delbert Grady killed his family with an axe, but he knows he should tell it just to let Jack Torrance know what he's getting himself into. Jack says he's fine, but in hindsight we know this isn't the case.

ULLMAN: The police eh... they thought that it was what the old-timers used to call cabin fever.

The only thing worse than being stuck by yourself in isolation can be getting stuck with one or two other people. "Cabin fever" refers to the way people get stressed out and frustrated with each other when they're cooped up in the same space for too long. According to Ullman, this might have been what caused Delbert Grady to murder his family.

ULLMAN: Well, obviously some people can be put off by the idea of staying alone in a place where something like that actually happened.

Ullman wanted to mention the whole Delbert Grady thing because he knows that some people might be weirded out by filling the same job a murderer did. But Jack isn't concerned at all. If anything, he's overly confident about his ability to take care of the Overlook.

HALLORANN: Well, look sir, I hate to put you to any trouble, but there's a family up there all by themselves with a young kid, and with this storm and everything.

Hallorann is right to be concerned about the Torrances being all alone up at the Overlook. After all, Danny has used his special shining powers to call Hallorann back to the hotel and Hallorann already knows for a fact that something bad is going down.

RANGER: Oh yeah. We tried to contract them several times by radio, but they didn't answer.

It's not easy getting a hold of the Torrances up at the Overlook. And that's really the whole point, isn't it? It's a lot easier to murder your family if you take them miles and miles away from all help.

JACK: You've got a big surprise coming to you. You're not going anywhere.

Jack Torrance knows full well that he and his family are isolated from the rest of the world. And if he wants to kill Wendy and Danny, that means he'll have a much easier time doing it than if they were in the middle of a city.

Jack sitting up to his chest in snow, dead. Snow and icicles on his face.

At the end of the movie, it's fitting that Jack is left all alone dead in the hedge maze. Isolation is something he's craved the entire movie, and now he's finally got it. The irony here is pretty incredible.

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