It

It

by

Stephen King

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Summary
Analysis
There is only one story left for the adults to tell: the tale of how they made the silver slugs in Zack Denbrough’s workshop on July 23rd, and used them on July 25th. Ben stands up to reveal another scar on his chest. There is the letter “H” from Henry Bowers but also a heavy scar descending from the crossbar of the “H,” which looks like a twisting rope. Beverly recalls the werewolf and how they all saw it after Richie told his story about the experience on Neibolt Street. Ben says that this scar was not present a couple of nights ago; it just came back. Ben recalls how they spent a lot of time at the library, trying to learn how to make silver bullets at Zack Denbrough’s work table.
The “heavy scar” on Ben’s body triggers Beverly’s memory of the werewolf from the house on Neibolt Street. The group saw it after Richie told his story, because his storytelling placed the image of the werewolf into their imaginations. Like Bill’s scar from the group’s blood oath, Ben’s scar from the werewolf reappears shortly before the group reunites. The scars reappear along with the recovery of their memories.
Themes
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
In the flashback, Bill insists that Ben make the silver slugs, just as he insists that Beverly hold the slingshot. Ben asks if Bill has the molds and Bill hands them over. After deciding on slugs instead of bullets, Richie and Bill spend additional time at the library, researching. The kids find the molds at the Kitchener Precision Tool and Die. The Kitchener who owns and runs it is a great-great-grandnephew of the brothers who owned Kitchener Ironworks. The molds are fifty cents apiece.
Bill assigns each member of the Losers’ Club to do what he knows they can best accomplish. Ben’s engineering talent makes him the ideal candidate for designing and producing the slugs, while Beverly’s talent as a markswoman makes her the obvious candidate to shoot the werewolf.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Back in the workshop, Ben looks at the molds carefully and puts them down. Bill and Richie look at him with interest but little idea of what he is doing. Ben reaches into his pocket and takes out a silver dollar, which he drops into a makeshift crucible. Beverly notes that Ben’s father gave him the coin. He then asks for matches and a funnel. Absorbed in what he’s doing, Ben finds it easy to talk to Beverly. It is as though he is a surgeon addressing a nurse. He asks her to stick the funnel in the hole because she has the steadiest hands, and to use a glove so as not to burn herself. Bill gives Ben some wraparound glasses to wear while he holds the blowtorch.
Ben directs the others patiently and carefully, just as he did when he helped them to build the dam and their clubhouse. In these instances, Ben demonstrates a different kind of leadership from Bill. He inspires confidence by teaching the others how to create the materials that they need to help them feel safe. His methodical approach to things is an indication of his future career as an architect.
Themes
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The others watch as molten silver flows from the shell into the funnel. Not a drop spills. Ben says that he has to reheat the silver and takes the blowtorch from Eddie. Ten minutes later, it’s done. Ben then invites everyone to play Monopoly for an hour, while the silver hardens in the molds. Beverly says that she has to call home. When she does, she realizes that there will be no problem with her father; he fell asleep in front of the TV and woke just long enough to go to bed. Beverly’s mother asks if she has a ride home, and Beverly says that Bill’s dad will take them home. Her mother asks if she’s on a date, but Beverly says she isn’t. Elfrida says that she is glad, for the thought of that would make Al angry. As an afterthought, Elfrida adds that she would be angry, too.
With her father asleep, Beverly does not have to worry about him asking about her whereabouts or making unfair accusations against her based on whatever he has fantasized about her doing. Elfrida is only concerned with the prospect of Beverly being with a boy because she knows that the thought of such a prospect would send Al into a rage. Elfrida does not really know how she would feel about Beverly growing up and beginning to date because she is obedient to Al and follows his opinions.
Themes
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Elfrida then asks if any of her daughter’s girlfriends are there. Beverly does not have any girlfriends and suddenly wishes that she were talking to her father. She would be more afraid, but she would also feel less ashamed. She begins to think that maybe she is not a very good girl. She lies about some girls being present and tells her mother that she loves her, before hanging up.
Because she works a lot and distances herself from Beverly to avoid the truth about Al’s behavior, Elfrida knows very little about her daughter. Beverly does not really want to talk to her father. Instead, she feels that it would be easier to lie to him than to her mother.
Themes
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Beverly joins the others at the table where they are playing Monopoly. Stanley wins. Bill moves the little silver shoe that he is using as a marker around the board, and Beverly thinks that, if he held her hand, she would be so glad that she could die. A warm light begins to “glow briefly in her chest” and she smiles down at her hands.
Here the children do something relatively normal—playing a board game. For Beverly, playing the game gives her an excuse to be near Bill, with the hope that he will touch her. The warm light is her feeling of burgeoning love.
Themes
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
On July 25, 1958, the Losers’ Club meet It in face-to-face combat. They arrive at 25 Neibolt Street around ten in the morning. They all ride their bikes, though Bill and Richie are riding double on Silver. Stanley thinks that the windows look like eyes. Beverly notes the terrible smell. Bill asks if everyone still wants to go in. Eddie fumbles for his aspirator and Richie and Stan ask to use it, too. Beverly asks if anyone lives on the street. Mike says that only bums frequent the area.
They arrive at a precise time, like a group with an important assignment. Richie and Bill ride together, as they did during their first visit to the house on Neibolt Street. When the rest of the group asks to use Eddie’s aspirator, it is a subtle acknowledgement, on Eddie’s part, that the aspirator is a tool to alleviate anxiety.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
The group walks to the left side of the porch, where there is a wild rose bush. The bushes that the leper touched on the day of Eddie’s visit have turned black. Bill asks if everyone is ready. They say that they are, and he drops to his knees to crawl “through the blighted rosebushes and under the porch.”
Wild rosebushes can be a symbol of passion or sin, as they were in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. When the leper touches them, they turn black, as though ruined by frost. The leper and the black roses indicate death.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
The leaves under the porch crackle under the children’s weight and release a “sour old smell.” Bill reaches the broken cellar window and looks into the cellar. Beverly asks if he can see anything. Bill points out the coal pile that he and Richie used to escape the last time they were there. Bill and Beverly slip down into the cellar. She asks Ben to give her the slingshot the second she touches the ground. Ben next turns and wriggles himself through the window. Inevitably, he gets stuck. Bill and Beverly grab him by the ankles and he goes tumbling inside. Next come Eddie, Richie, Stan, and Mike.
The “sour old smell” is similar to that of the sewer, but it is also reminiscent of the attic smell that Bill will recall as an adult when he visits the secondhand shop to buy back Silver. The smell of old and decaying things can be both comforting and off-putting. In this instance, it is off-putting because it emanates from a house that typically harbors social outcasts, as well as the werewolf from Richie’s waking nightmare.
Themes
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The room is dim but not dark. Bill walks toward the stairs and the others follow him. Bill signals for everyone to go upstairs. They enter a dirty kitchen. Beverly opens a cupboard and a rat tumbles toward her. She thinks that It wants her to shoot at it, to use up their ammo. She becomes afraid of using the Bullseye and suggests that Bill do it instead. He shakes his head. The house, Richie finds, is full of rats. They go down the front hall, which smells like urine and rotting plaster. There are broken beer bottles in one corner. In the other corner is a “wet and swollen” girly magazine.
Beverly offers Bill the slingshot because, momentarily, she does not trust herself and worries that her fears of other things, such as rats, will cause her to waste their slugs. She figures that Bill would be less likely to make such a mistake, but he insists that Beverly keep the slingshot because she is the best shot in the group.
Themes
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Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Bill pushes open a door to what might be a parlor. Ben thinks that he hears Pennywise the Clown’s voice speaking to him, as though on a mental radio. He whispers for it to go away and it does. The house is a special place—one of several in Derry where It finds Its way into the overworld. Suddenly, the floor seems to slope. They are losing Ben. Ben runs to catch up with the group. When he does, Bill says that everyone must stay close. Bill opens a door to another, narrower hall. Suddenly, the corridor seems to elongate. The doors grow with the ceiling, pulling like taffy. Stanley claps his hands over his eyes. Bill tells Stanley that it is not real, but Stanley insists that it is only unreal to Bill. Stan’s panic catches on among other members of the group.
The “mental radio” is Ben’s imagined belief that Pennywise is present somewhere in the house, or at least knows that the children are there. It uses the house because it is an undesirable space filled with undesirable people whose images he can use to tap into other fears, such as Eddie’s fear of illness. It also taps into Stanley’s fear of irrationality when It disorients his sense of space. He cannot separate what he sees from Bill’s insistence that it is only an illusion.
Themes
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Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
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Bill helps Stanley remembers that he has something to defend himself against It: his bird book. The parlor is now almost black. They walk down the hall and Bill grabs the knob to the third door. Beverly is next to him with the Bullseye raised. The door opens to a bedroom. Bill thinks there is nothing out of the ordinary there, but then they see the mattress bulge in and out and a black, sticky fluid spills out. The liquid stains the mattress and runs over the floor toward the doorway. Richie tells Bill to shut the door. Bill shuts it and prompts the others to “come on.” When he moves to the second door, a buzzing sound starts inside the room.
Stanley’s knowledge of birds gives him confidence, which can help him to repel his fear, just as he did when he was alone with It in the Standpipe. The black, sticky fluid seems like blood, but it appears black because of the darkness within the house. The emission of the sticky fluid from the mattress foreshadows the blood that comes oozing out of Beverly’s fortune cookie years later.
Themes
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Bill draws back from the rising cry. Ben finds the sound maddening and thinks that a giant cricket is behind the door. He tells Beverly to shoot it through the door before it can get them. Before Beverly can pull the slingshot back, Mike stops her, opens the door, and points out that it is just a mooseblower, something used to scare crows. The room is empty. He looks at Bill and says that he is scared of It, but he agrees that It is scared of them, too.
The giant cricket that Ben imagines will reappear in Eddie Kaspbrak’s fortune cookie during their lunch reunion. In this instance, It uses a mundane object to frighten the children. This again shows that their imaginations are the strongest producers of their fears.
Themes
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Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
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They go to the door at the end of the hall. Bill pulls it open. White shards of a broken toilet lay everywhere inside. There is a bathtub standing on claw feet, with a basin and an empty medicine cabinet above it. Bill approaches the mouth of a drain hole over which the toilet once sat. Bill leans toward it and says that he can hear pumping machinery, as he can in the Barrens. He asserts that this is where It came from—the drains. Ben looks into the pipe and sees Its eyes down in the darkness.
It uses the place where the toilet once was as an entry point from the sewer into the house. Ben looks down and sees eyes peering up at him from the darkness, just as George Denbrough looked down into the sewer and saw eyes peering back at him. The difference is that Ben knows about what creature lurks below.
Themes
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Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Beverly raises her Bullseye, ready to shoot a silver slug, when something explodes from the pipe. Ben would later only remember seeing “a silvery-orange shifting shape” during this confrontation. It is solid, not ghostly. Richie recognizes it as the Teenage Werewolf. The Werewolf stands poised over the drainpipe. Its green eyes glare at them from a feral face. It lets out a loud growl. It wears a high-school letter jacket and Its hairy arms jut out toward Beverly, who screams. The Werewolf’s smell is hot, raw, and murderous. Ben grabs Beverly so hard that he tears her shirt. Mike and Richie prompt Beverly to shoot It, which she does. The silver slug misses by more than a foot—tearing a hole into the wallpaper.
The silvery-orange color is a remnant of the clown’s suit. The Teenage Werewolf returns, as the Losers’ Club predicted, because Richie put the glamour into the others’ imaginations when he told them the story of his first encounter with It. Beverly is still reluctant to shoot, and her nervousness shows when she narrowly misses hitting the werewolf. King uses Beverly’s missed shot and the fact that the friends have a limited number of slugs to help build suspense.
Themes
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The Werewolf’s head snaps around and its green eyes fix on Beverly. Ben steps in front of her. The Werewolf lunges at Ben with its greenish-yellow eyes flaring. Richie is bellowing, though the sound is dim in Ben’s ears. Eddie yells at Beverly to shoot It. The Werewolf’s claws descend again, and Ben is in Its grip, bleeding. The Werewolf throws him into the bathtub. The Werewolf spins around and Ben can see the lettering on the jacket: DERRY HIGH SCHOOL KILLING TEAM. PENNYWISE 13.
Ben wants to protect Beverly from the Werewolf’s fury. He is so intent on making sure that she does not get hurt that he does not even hear Richie’s screams nearby. The Werewolf scratches Ben, which explains the long scar on his chest where Henry’s “H” also resides. The lettering on the jacket makes it clear that the Werewolf is another form of the clown.
Themes
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The Werewolf attacks Bill again and Richie screams for Beverly to shoot it. Beverly aims for the right eye and misses by less than half an inch. The Werewolf screams. Bill and Beverly advance on the Werewolf and Richie screams for her to shoot it again, to kill it. Ben is confused by this because they have no ammo left. Then, he understands. Her fingers close over the cup that held the slugs, hiding its emptiness. The Werewolf’s eyes flicker with uncertainty and pain. Blood pours onto its jacket in sheets. Then the uncertainty leaves the creature’s eyes, and It believes. It turns and dives into the drain. A voice roars back from the drainpipe, promising to kill them all. The house then snaps back to its original size and goes back to being a hobo house. After It leaves, the silence seems very loud.
The inevitable occurs: the gang runs out of slugs. However, this ends up not mattering because Beverly believes that she can destroy It through faith. When the slugs disappear, she relies on her imagination to send It away. The creature’s uncertainty comes from confusion over Beverly’s sudden belief that she can destroy the Werewolf through sheer will, which means that she is not afraid. Imagination gives It power, but it also gives the Losers power over It.
Themes
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Bill tells everyone that they need to leave. He asks Richie to help him with Ben. Ben looks down at his stomach. The Werewolf has slashed him long and deep but not mortally. Richie feels a sense of triumph in having beaten the Werewolf. Bill again tells everyone that they should leave before It decides to return. Beverly asks for someone’s shirt to replace the one that Ben has ripped. Bill gives her his.
Bill senses that Its attack on the Losers’ Club is not over and that It could return in a different form, one for which they will not be prepared. When Beverly loses her shirt, the incident causes slight embarrassment among the prepubescent group who are confronted with the sight of a partially naked girl.
Themes
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Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
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An hour later, they are all back in the clubhouse. It is cool inside, and they sit without talking very much. Beverly and Richie pass a cigarette back and forth. Ben keeps thinking that everything that happened on Neibolt Street was merely a dream, but he knows that it was not. Beverly offers to return Bill’s shirt but he waves a hand to show that this isn’t important. She bites down on her lower lip and appears to him as an eleven-year-old girl who is “tall for her age and simply beautiful.” She asks him what should happen next—more silver slugs? Ben thinks that it all comes back to power. He loves Beverly, so she has power over him. Beverly loves Bill, so he has power over her.
For the first time, Bill notices Beverly as an object of romantic interest. Ben, who is very observant, becomes aware of this. The thought does not seem to make him jealous, but only accepting. He decides that love is a form of power, just as Its evil is a form of power that can intrude into children’s imaginations. At the moment, Ben cannot think much about Beverly’s question about silver slugs because of the distracting power of his love for her, and the sight of her semi-nude body.
Themes
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The children prepare to go home. Later, Ben would still wonder where power, such as the power of the silver slugs comes from. It seems to him that their lives would depend on such questions. For the next two weeks, nothing much happens.
Ben wonders how the children were able to do something seemingly impossible. This question will also keep coming back to him when he grows up.
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