It

It

by

Stephen King

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Summary
Analysis
Back in 1985, the telephone rings and Bill Denbrough answers it. It is Mike Hanlon. Bill remembers where he is. He is in Derry and staying at the Derry Town House on Upper Main Street. Mike says that he has arranged a little reunion. Everyone is coming except for Stanley Uris. When Bill says that Stan might show up today, Mike announces that Stan is dead. Bill wonders if his plane crashed, and Mike assures him that it was nothing like that, but that he would rather explain when they are all together. Mike says that they will all meet at a restaurant called Jade of the Orient. It’s in the shopping mall on Mall Road, which is where the old Ironworks used to be. Mike then assures Bill that they will catch up on everything.
Bill’s idea or narrative about what happened to Stanley is inaccurate. Mike does not want to divulge the details until everyone is present, so that he can explain to everyone what has been happening in Derry and that the evil is so pervasive that Stan felt it in Atlanta and could not withstand it. They meet in a space where Mike had his first encounter with It. This passage indicates how dependent the group is on Mike, who is a kind of gatekeeper for information about what haunts Derry.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Bill hangs up the phone and takes a shower. He then orders a breakfast that he does not really want and picks at it. He dials for the Big Yellow Cab Company and asks to be picked up at a quarter to one. As the cab moves slowly down Main Street, Bill think that Derry was a big town in 1958 but it is now a city. The places that he remembers from his childhood, such as Mr. Keene’s Center Street Drug Store, are gone. Bill’s cab is caught in traffic and his driver says that it may take a while. Bill assures him that it is fine. He asks the cabbie how long he has lived in Derry. The driver says that he has been in Derry his whole life and expects to be buried there.
Like Mike Hanlon, the cab driver has never left Derry. Indeed, the longer Bill is in the town, he will realize that many of the people with whom he grew up have remained in Derry. Only other members of the Losers’ Club have left, and Henry was forced out due to the crime he committed against his father. The unwillingness of people to leave Derry or to inquire about its mysterious evils suggests a complicity with or tolerance of the town’s bad elements.
Themes
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The cabbie tells Bill how the First Merchants of Penobscot County wanted to tear down the Aladdin Theater and put up a “complete banking mall.” Mike Hanlon helped to prevent it at a city council meeting. The cabbie asks if Bill knows Mike. Bill thinks back to how they had met in July 1958. The cabbie says that a lot has changed in Derry but a lot still holds up, such as the Town House and the Standpipe in Memorial Park. Bill says that the Canal is still there, too. The cabbie assumes that the Canal will always be there. They reach the mall. The old field is gone now, as is the old Ironworks. Bill finds the mall ugly and is a bit surprised to know that the mall is the reality, not his memories.
The cabbie assumes that the Canal will always be there because it is a symbol of the town’s economic prosperity. The First Merchants want to perpetuate that legacy, but they are indifferent to other landmarks in favor of expanding Derry’s commercial appeal. Bill wishes to remember Derry as it was in 1958. By remembering the Derry of his childhood, it will become easier to believe in the task he has returned to perform.
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The cabbie pulls into the parking lot of a building that “[looks] like a large plastic pagoda.” Bill gives the cabbie a big tip and the cabbie introduces himself as “Dave.” Bill remembers that he meant to ask Dave if he likes living in Derry. Bill walks into the restaurant. Mike Hanlon is in the lobby, sitting on a wicker chair. Mike appears worn and very thin, looking older than he is. Bill cannot help but to tell him that he looks a little tired, and Mike admits that he is tired. Nevertheless, Mike sticks out his hand and welcomes Bill back to Derry. Bill ignores the hand and embraces Mike.
Bill wonders if the cabbie stays in Derry out of a sense of obligation, as Mike does, or if he really appreciates the town as it is. If his response is the latter, that would suggest a willful ignorance of Derry’s evils or some complicity in it. Mike has the appearance of a man who has been fighting against a force much stronger than himself all on his own. Bill’s embrace reminds him that he is no longer alone in his effort.
Themes
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Mike pulls away from Bill around the time that the hostess comes to lead them to their table. She leads them past the main dining area, and to a space separated from the rest of the restaurant by a beaded curtain. Bill hesitates for a moment and feels nervous. He wonders how everyone looks. Mike invites him to come in and see for himself.
Bill is reluctant to see the Losers’ Club as adults. Since taking the flight back to Maine, he has been recalling them all as the children they were. It may be difficult to fathom facing It as adults.
Themes
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Bill walks in and first sees Richie Tozier. He is rocking his chair back so that he is leaning against the wall and whispering something to Beverly Marsh that causes her to giggle. Eddie Kaspbrak is on Beverly’s left. His aspirator is next to his water glass. Sitting at one end of the table, watching the others with a look of “mixed anxiety, amusement, and concentration, [is] Ben Hanscom.” Bill rubs his head to see if his hair has magically come back. Beverly Marsh—if her name is still Marsh—has become a stunningly beautiful woman. Eddie has grown up to look a bit like Anthony Perkins and has a prematurely lined face. On one wrist he has a Patek Philippe watch and on the little finger of his right hand is a ruby. Bill finds the stone too big and ostentatious not to be real.
Some things about the group have not changed—Eddie still has his aspirator, for instance. Bill’s comparison of Eddie to Anthony Perkins is a reference to the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho, in which Perkins plays a man with an obsession and unhealthy attachment to his mother. This is also indicative of Eddie’s own relationship with Sonia Kaspbrak. Seeing the group causes Bill to feel that he has regressed a bit. He rubs his head to remind himself of his age.
Themes
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Ben Hanscom is the one who has really changed. He has gotten thin. They are all there, Bill Denbrough thinks, even Stanley Uris and It. Richie Tozier grins at Bill and asks him how long he has been turtle-waxing his head. Bill calls him “Trashmouth” and tells him “fuck you and the horse you rode in on.” This is how Bill is welcomed back to the group. He goes over to them and shakes hands, feeling as though he has come home for good.
Richie is the first one to acknowledge Bill’s entrance and, in true form, he does it with a joke. The joke puts Bill at ease and reminds him that his relationship with his old group of friends has not changed. With them he feels at home, despite the anxiety he felt during his return to Derry.
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Mike orders drinks. They find out that Beverly Marsh is now “Beverly Rogan.” She says that she is married to a wonderful man in Chicago who was able to transform her “simple talent” into “a successful dress business.” Eddie owns a limousine company in New York and jokes that his wife could be having an affair with Al Pacino as they speak. Everyone knows what Bill and Ben have been up to because they are famous. Beverly has two of Bill’s paperback novels and asks if he will sign them. Richie is a disc jockey in California known as “the Man of a Thousand Voices.” Bill remembers how terrible Richie’s voices were. Beverly asks if he wears contacts now instead of glasses, and Richie says he does.
With the exceptions of Bill and Ben, whose life stories are well-known, they each tell stories about their lives. Beverly and Eddie embellish to make their circumstances sound better than they are. They do not want the others to know that they have not overcome their childhood anxieties but have merely repeated them in adulthood. Richie overcomes his geeky boyhood image by wearing contact lenses. His friends find it hard to believe that his corny impressions have made him famous, though comedy is the source of Richie’s power.
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Ben asks Mike if the library is the same. Mike reaches into his wallet and takes out an aerial snapshot of the library. Ben holds the picture the longest. He taps on the image of the glass corridor and asks Mike if it looks familiar. Mike accurately guesses that it is the BBC communications center that Ben designed. The drinks come, and Richie initiates a toast. The food comes, and they eat. For dessert, they have baked Alaska. Ben says that he has not eaten so much since he was a kid. Richie asks what prompted him to go on a diet. Ben tells the story of how he and his mother, Arlene Hanscom, move to Nebraska in 1960. They stay with his aunt for a while, who constantly chides him about being overweight. In high school, physical education is difficult for him. He is bullied and paddled in the locker rooms.
Ben, like Richie, transforms himself by changing his self-image. Though Ben moves away from Derry, the memory of the glass corridor remains a source of comfort in his transition from childhood to adulthood. This leads him to the memory of being bullied as a teen, as he was in Derry, for being overweight and not having a body that conformed to standards of male beauty and athleticism. Ben is constantly made to feel guilty for being overweight, while his mother keeps feeding him.
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Beverly senses where the story is going and tells Ben that he does not need to continue, but Bill wants to hear more. The paddling results in Ben crying on the floor. His coach is unsympathetic. He bends forward and grabs each of Ben’s “tits” then wipes his hands on his pants. He tells Ben that his self-indulgence makes him want to puke. Then, Ben gets mad and tells the coach that he will be ready to try out for his track team in March. The coach says that the day Ben can outrun the best athletes on his team is the day the coach quits his job and goes back to picking corn.
Beverly loves Ben and is sympathetic to him. Knowing that the story is painful, she assures him that he need not continue telling it. Bill’s desire to hear the story, which will help him connect the old Ben to the man sitting before him, prompts Ben to continue. The coach’s act of pinching Ben is not only an expression of disgust with Ben’s weight but also with Ben’s un-masculine appearance.
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Richie asks if Ben succeeded in losing the weight. Ben says that he did, but that he first battled his mother, Arlene Hanscom, who refused to believe that he was fat. Ben reasons that it was scary for Arlene to raise a boy on her own and that when she was able to give him more food, it helped her feel like she was “winning the battle.” Ben drinks more beer and tells the group how his mother would not accept his weight loss. She refuses to take in his clothes, which are getting smaller. At night, he only eats half of what is on his plate and she accuses him of trying to starve himself because he does not love her anymore. Ben buys his own new clothes with his paper route money and stays focused on losing weight—keeping the memory of the coach’s face in his mind.
Ben realizes that he cannot depend on his mother to help him solve his problem because she is still obsessively afraid that her son will starve due to her low earning potential. By constantly feeding Ben, she reminds herself that she is capable of keeping her son alive. When he refuses to eat as much as she wants him to, it makes her think, again, that her efforts to support him are not good enough.
Themes
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Ben makes amends with his mother by eating lots of a salad that she makes, after learning in Health and Nutrition class that one can eat as many greens as one wants without gaining weight. Arlene Hanscom, he realizes, does not care what he eats as long as he eats a lot of it. Ben loses about seventy pounds and has grown two inches, better distributing the weight. On the first day of track tryouts, he proves himself to be a shoo-in for the team. The coach does not say anything. Instead, he hits Ben and tells him to get off the field. He says that he would never have “a smartmouth bastard” like Ben on the team. Ben says he would never want to be on the team, but asks the coach to spare him a thought next time he sits down to eat corn.
Ben makes a compromise with his mother in which he agrees to eat all of the salad she can make. Arlene is only concerned with Ben’s diet insofar as it assures her that she can provide for him. Therefore, she is not really interested in what he eats, only in the fact that she can provide him with an abundance of it. Ben triumphs over his mother and also over his coach by proving that he is capable of athleticism and being confidently masculine—with or without the weight.
Themes
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The coach tells Ben that if he does not leave the coach will beat the living crap out of him. Ben tells him that if the coach lays another hand on him, he will make sure that the coach loses his job. He says that he lost the weight to have a little dignity and peace, which are worth fighting for. Bill has difficulty believing that a teenager would ever talk like that. Ben thinks that most might not, but most teenagers do not go through the things he has gone through. He assures Bill that he said every word. When Ben’s homeroom teacher hands him his course sheet, it says that he has been excused from physical education. Richie congratulates him for beating the coach, and Ben thinks that he was able to do it partly because he was thinking of the Losers’ Club.
Ben’s unusually mature use of language comes not only from enduring forms of bullying that have been life-threatening (e.g., Henry Bowers trying to carve his name into Ben’s stomach), but also from having faced the ultimate form of evil in It. In a way, Ben’s experiences with It helped him later in life, for they made everything that he had to confront afterward seem relatively easy. Also, his knowledge that there are sympathetic people in the world also gave him strength.
Themes
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Mike signals the waitress and they all order another round of drinks. Bill hopes that someone else will tell a story about the years between. He wants to hear about their lives because, at any moment, Mike will start talking and he dreads hearing what he will say. Eddie speaks next to ask when Stanley died. Mike says that he died the night before last, when Mike made the calls. Beverly asks if he committed suicide, and Mike says that he did.
Bill wants to hear the stories about what the others have done since leaving Derry, both because he is interested in how his friends’ lives have progressed and because he wants to delay hearing about the latest murders in Derry. The first painful truth that the group confronts is Stan’s suicide, which Bill knows is tied to Mike’s news.
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Mike says that he has subscribed to the newspapers closest to where all of them live, as a way to keep tabs on them. Richie asks Mike what has been happening in Derry. Mike is afraid to tell them too much, out of fear that they could also be driven to suicide. Bill insists that Mike tell them what he can.
Mike does not wish to tell them too much too early, out of fear that they will be overwhelmed, as Stan was. They are the only ones who can fight It, and the pressure of that realization was too much for Stan.
Themes
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Mike tells his old group of friends that the murders have started again. He talks about the Adrian Mellon case. He says that both Don Hagarty and Christopher Unwin saw a clown. Ben says that it must have been Pennywise. Mike says that Harold Gardener was one of the investigating officers. This triggers in Bill the memory of his brother George’s death. Mike then mentions a boy found mutilated in the park. Eddie asks how many there have been so far. Mike counts nine. They muse on why the stories have not become national news. Part of it is the relative smallness of Derry, but another reason is that It simply does not want too many people to know about It.
To numerologists, the number nine—the number of murders so far—is significant. Nine suggests a call to duty or humanitarianism. Mike calls his six old friends to alert them that it is time to return to Derry and fulfill their promise to help if the murders ever started again. Mike has kept tabs on his six friends because he knew that they would not be aware of what was happening in Derry. The town’s smallness makes the murders seem almost quaint, rather than a serious cause for concern.
Themes
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Mike muses that It has been around for so long that It’s part of Derry’s history. He goes through the litany of violent occurrences in Derry, including the disappearances of children and whole families. These are recorded in diary extracts but not in public documents. Ben surmises that something is going on, but it is private. Beverly compares the occurrences in Derry to a cancer, but that is not quite right, Mike thinks, for, Derry has otherwise thrived. It is a rather small place where bad things—sometimes ferocious things—happen often, every quarter of a century. Mike notes that It came to an abrupt end in 1958 because of the Losers’ Club.
Derry’s murders are kept quiet because the town actively forgets in order to survive. Institutions like the Derry Historical Society only elevate the positive aspects of the town’s history. In this regard, King uses Derry as a microcosm of the United States—a place where forgetting and moving on is key to its ability to rapidly evolve and change. The unwillingness to confront unpleasant truths only results in their being submerged, not destroyed.
Themes
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Related Quotes
Eddie tries to remember how they stopped It. Mike assures him that he will remember in time. Ben wonders what will happen if they do not remember. Mike says, “Then God help us all.” He then takes a photograph of George Denbrough out of a notebook. It is the old school photo from George’s album. Mike asks Bill when he last saw it. Bill says that he has not seen it since the spring of 1958. He tried to show it to Richie, but it was gone. Eddie takes a hit from his aspirator.
Eddie takes a hit from his aspirator because all of this information makes him very nervous. Furthermore, he cannot remember how the group sent It away in 1958. The weight of Mike’s information and Eddie’s inability to recall the story from 1958 makes him feel inadequate, which is when he turns to his aspirator for comfort.
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Mike says that after the death of a boy named Steven Johnson, he told himself that, if another body were discovered, he would place the six calls. He says that George Denbrough’s picture was found “by a fallen log less than ten feet from the Torrio boy's body.” Also, the picture was not hidden but displayed as though someone wanted it to be found. Mike says that he gets police photos of the dead children from someone on the department whom he pays twenty dollars a month.
It left the photo near the body, knowing that Mike would find out about it and that this information would signal him to tell the others to return to Derry. It seems to want to face the Losers’ Club once more, now that they are all adults. Mike uses the photos that he gets from the police department to build a record of the latest cycle of Derry’s murders.
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Mike proceeds to tell stories of children who have been decapitated, drowned in toilets, and torn open. He also mentions a boy named John Feury who is found dead on 29 Neibolt Street. The mention of this street name sends Eddie into a minor shock. Mike says that Feury was found with his legs missing, when a postman noticed a hand sticking out from under the porch. Chief Rademacher arrests a hermit named Harold Earl who lives in a little shack on Route 7. Earl goes to a mental health facility, though his liver is nearly gone due to his habit of drinking paint thinner. He also claims to have witnessed UFOs and Bigfoot.
The police, who only deal in concrete realities, have found the likeliest suspect in Harold Earl. Earl’s social isolation and mental instability make him a social pariah and, therefore, easiest to blame for the murder of Feury and the other children. They use Earl’s ability to butcher deer as the reason for the decapitation of the bodies.
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Mike next shows the gang a photo of the remains of a boy named Jerry Bellwood; “what [is] left of him [is] found at the foot of a cement retaining wall.” A message is scrawled on the wall: “Come home.” Bill looks at Mike grimly, and Mike confirms Bill’s suspicion: the message has been written in Jerry’s blood.
The message to “come home” is a sign to the remaining members of the Losers’ Club—a teasing invitation but also an expression of Its wish to destroy the group so that Its reign of evil can continue undisturbed.
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Mike takes back his photos. He puts them in his jacket pocket and when they are out of sight, everyone feels a sense of relief. Beverly finds it incredible that nine children have died and no one has been responsive. Mike says that some people are angry and others are scared but some are faking. When Beverly asks what he means, he prompts her to remember a man sitting on his porch who folded his newspaper and went back inside of his house when she screamed at him for help. Beverly does not recall this, but he assures her that she will in time.
The photos horrify the group, but also remind them of their call to duty. Beverly has forgotten how tolerant the people in Derry are of the violence and evil that flourishes there. When Mike offers her an example from an instance in her own childhood—in which her father chased her through town—she does not even remember, having repressed the memory or lost it through supernatural means.
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Mike says that people are doing what they are expected to do in the midst of children coming up dead or missing. He mentions the Save Our Children Committee. Also, the curfew is back in effect. Mike mentions that the really sincere ones get scared enough to leave. Beverly recalls the message written on the wall: “Come home.” Mike supposes that It may want all of them back to finish the job that It started—as revenge. Mike also notes that Derry has left its mark on the members of the Losers’ Club, though all of them have also turned out to be rich. Mike reviews the successes of each of them and contrasts those accomplishments with his more modest living as a librarian. Ben says that Mike has “kept the lighthouse.”
The citizens of Derry keep up the appearance of being outraged by the murders, but they will do nothing. Those who know what is truly killing the children allow their sense of disbelief to overpower their resolve to act. Mike, on the other hand, has stayed in town to keep watch over Derry in case It returned. This is what Ben means when he says that Mike has “kept the lighthouse.” He has also maintained his promise to alert the others if the killings started again.
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Mike then unbuttons his shirt and spreads it wide, revealing pink claw marks. Richie remembers the werewolf at 29 Neibolt Street and asks Bill if he remembers, but Bill does not. Bill only remembers that he wanted to kill It. Mike asks if he does still and Bill considers this carefully before responding, “More than ever.” Bill tries to remember if they ever came close to killing It. He says that he can remember everything up to August 15, 1958 with perfect clarity, but everything from then until September 4 of that year is completely gone from his memory. Suddenly, Bill’s arm jerks convulsively and he knocks over one of his empty beer bottles.
The claw marks are from the time when the entire group returned to the house on Neibolt Street to confront the werewolf. This was when Beverly used the silver slug that Ben made with a silver dollar that he later gave Bill. Bill cannot remember what he saw that day. He also does not remember the silver dollar. What is clearest to him is his anger. There is an apparent trend with sending It away and the disappearance of the associated memories.
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Mike asks Bill if he remembers the “deadlights.” Bill says that he does not, and he does not want to remember. Mike points out to everyone how they once exercised group will and “achieved some special understanding.” Mike thinks that Stanley, “with his ordered mind,” may have had some idea of what that was. Mike also alerts everyone to another important thing they all have in common: none of them have children. Each has a different explanation for why this none—none of which is related to infertility.
The “deadlights” appear at other points in the novel and will later feature prominently when Audra Phillips gets caught in them. Though King never defines them, seeing them leaves one in a state of hypnotic, catatonic terror. The group’s inability to reproduce is seemingly the work of It, whose own ability to reproduce evil depends on eliminating the Losers’ Club and ensuring that they have no offspring.
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Richie then launches into a story about how he met a woman a year after he moved to California. They talk about having children but decide against it for political reasons. Richie then goes and has a vasectomy. Richie and the woman, whose name is Sandy, live together for two-and-a-half years. Then, she gets an offer to join a corporate law firm in Washington. They have a fight over her decision to take the job and, ultimately, she leaves. A year later, Richie tries to have the vasectomy reversed. He knows that the chances of doing this successfully are slim and that the surgery will be painful, but he wants to try anyway.
Richie and Sandy are typical of many couples of their generation who, due to their political beliefs, decide not to have more children who will contribute to overpopulation and environmental pollution. The decision not to have children is more Sandy’s than it is Richie’s and, when they break up, Richie realizes that he would like to give himself the chance of becoming a father.
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Richie’s doctor tells him that he wants to take a sperm sample because sometimes the vasa reconnect spontaneously, though it is rare. However, the doctor still insists on checking things out. After the test, the doctor tells Richie that he has good news and bad news: Richie does not need the surgery, but his sperm has been vital for several years. Richie calls Sandy, who announces that she has just gotten married. Richie asks if she was ever pregnant by him or had an abortion when they were together. She has not, but mentions that she is due to have a child in July. When Richie asks what made her change her mind about motherhood, she mentions being with a man who is not a “shit.”
The reconnection of Richie’s vasa is a mystery. Perhaps It has bestowed good fortune onto Richie and the other members of the group as a manipulative tool. For instance, if Richie thinks that he is less vulnerable, this can make it easier for It to kill him. Another explanation is that It wants the Losers’ Club to know that It can still interfere directly into their lives—or this coincidence merely highlights how It has already influenced them.
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Richie then says that the California branch of the American Medical Association has logged only twenty-three cases of “spontaneous regeneration.” Six turned out to be botched operations and six others were hoaxes or cons. So, really, only eleven of the cases are genuine out of 28,618. Eddie insists that this fact from Richie’s life does not prove anything about their childlessness, but Bill thinks it certainly suggests a link. Bill then asks Mike what they should do now.
Eddie refuses to believe in the link between the spontaneous reconnection of Richie’s vasa and It because he does not want to believe that It has remained in their lives long after they left Derry. To Eddie, this suggests that there was never an escape, which Stan knew.
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Mike suggests that they can try to kill It again, or just divide up the check six ways and go back to their normal lives. Mike is unsure, however, if they will be able to kill It with a smaller circle. He worries that It will simply kill them one by one. He suggests that they take a vote about whether or not to proceed, for he has brought them all back on the strength of a promise that most of them barely remember. Bill thinks of his brother, George, and feels the same old rage within himself. He raises his hand slowly and says that he wants to kill It.
Bill may not remember the promise, but he remembers the grief he felt after the clown killed his brother, as well as his sense of guilt, which was made worse by his parents shunning him. Mike suggests that they can go back to their normal lives, but after hearing Richie’s medical news, it seems that their adult lives are not as normal as they would like to believe.
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For a moment, Bill’s hand hangs in the air alone. Then Beverly, Mike, and Ben raise their hands. Eddie sits back in his chair, looking as though he wishes he could disappear. He seems miserably afraid, and Bill thinks that he may bolt from the room. Then, Eddie raises one hand and grabs his aspirator with the other.
Eddie is afraid, but he knows that his friends need him and that they cannot destroy It without him. In 1958, each of them brought their own talent to the endeavor, and Eddie’s talent was for navigation. As inadequate as he feels to perform the task, he knows that he must.
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Bill asks what Mike’s idea is. Mike thinks that everyone should go back to the place in Derry which they remember best. The assumed purpose of this is to plug back in to life in Derry. Mike admits that he is largely going off of intuition and also intuits that one of them may not turn up at the library that night, where they have all agreed to meet, at 7:00 PM. He notes, too, that It started alone for each of them. So, each of them will have to experience It again, alone.
Mike tells the group that, in order to jog their memories, they must revert back to what they remember best from their childhoods. This act will help them retrace their steps, which will lead them closer to It and to their memory of how they sent it away in 1958.
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Before they leave, Beverly prompts everyone to open and eat their fortune cookies. Bill worries that the fortune cookies may be part of It, but it is too late and everyone is opening their cookies. Blood spurts from Beverly’s fortune cookie. It splashes her hand and goes all over the white tablecloth. A huge bug—in “an ugly yellow-brown”—crawls out of Eddie’s cookie. It is some sort of mutant cricket. Richie stares down at what comes out of his fortune cookie: an eye. Ben throws his cookie and two teeth are inside, both of which are clotted with blood.
What each person finds is related to their secret fears. Beverly has retained the memory of the blood from the bathroom sink drain. The “mutant cricket” that Eddie sees is reminiscent of the lobster, as well as his aversion to things that look like vermin. Richie’s fear is related to the loss of his eyesight—a fear that was triggered by a schlock film he watched back in the Fifties.
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Bill encourages everyone to “dummy up” and pretend as though everything is fine. The waitress, Rose, comes in and asks if everything is okay. Everyone assures her that the food was good. Bill looks down at his plate and seeks a leg poking out of his fortune cookie. Richie looks at it, too. A “great, grayish black fly” tries to emerge from the cookie. Yellowish goo flows out of the cookie and puddles onto the tablecloth. Beverly leaves, thinking that she has to vomit. She is coming out of the restroom when they all gather at the cash register.
Bill knows that Rose will not see what the others have seen in their fortune cookies. The glamours are the products of their own imaginations and anxieties, to which others do not have access. King never explains why a fly emerges from Bill’s cookie. The reason could be as mundane as being annoyed by a house fly, or it could just be a generally grotesque or horrifying image.
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Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Bill says that It is up to Its old tricks. Bill figures that It latches on to whatever is on people’s minds. Beverly was thinking of blood and Eddie was thinking of the crickets in his basement. Ben notes that the waitress did not see anything, just as Beverly’s father did not see the blood on the bathroom walls. Bill then says that he is going to take a walk to get some fresh air. Ben and Richie share a cab and the others take the bus. Bill knows that the walk back to town will be a long one, which is fine; he has a lot to think about.
Bill understands Its tricks. He also understands his friends’ fears and anxieties. Due to Its ability to infiltrate the group’s imaginations, they have to confront and overcome their anxieties. Otherwise, It will continue to exploit those anxieties in Its effort to destroy them. The group has to recall their old stories and then relinquish them before they can create new ones.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon