It

It

by

Stephen King

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Summary
Analysis
When Ben finishes his story about the silver slugs, the group still wants to talk. However, it is 1:15 AM now and Mike wants to sleep. Eddie wants to continue talking so that they can remember everything, but Bill agrees that they will either remember or they will not. Mike suggests that they all meet on Kansas Street, which Eddie realizes means that they will meet in the Barrens. Mike tells everyone to be careful tonight and that their meeting has made him feel better. He asks Bill if they can still kill It, and Bill thinks they can. Richie asks what they should do if It shows up. Mike suggests that there may be another force, or that there seemed to be when they were children. That force wants them to stay alive to finish the job of killing It.
Bill insists on moving things along. He has faith that they will remember what they need to know when the time comes for them to know it. Mike feels better because he is less frightened, knowing that he is no longer alone against It. Mike also suggests the possibility that It is not the only force of power that exists among the children. He cannot yet define what that force is, or tell if it is good or evil, but he seems to be remembering the Turtle.
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The group prepares to leave. Suddenly, Beverly screams and looks down at her hands. Her hand opens and is bleeding. Bill sees that the old scar that he noticed on his hand in England is also bleeding. All of their hands begin to bleed where they cut themselves to take the blood oath many years earlier. They then grasp hands to close their circle. Mike realizes that it is all starting to happen again. A force overtakes the library, tipping over occult books and slamming doors. Then, it all stops, as though someone flipped a switch. They drop their hands and look at each other in a daze. Beverly presses against Bill, trembling, and he puts his arm around her.
Spirits enter the library in Its attempt to frighten the group as a whole. The scene that King creates is similar to what happens when people in the movies bring back spirits from the dead after playing with a Ouija board. In fact, it is possible that this occurs because one of the friends had such a thought. The cuts on their hands are also similar to stigmata—the sign of their suffering and their promise to sacrifice themselves for Derry.
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When the group goes out, they see that the sky has clouded again. Bill glances back and sees the library half a block away. Eddie and Richie are standing on the top step. Ben is standing on the bottom step, watching as Bill and Beverly depart together. Beverly tells Bill about how much she hated her father and begins to tell the story about what happened the day she returned from the Barrens to take a shower and have lunch—the day she noticed that her father had been possessed by It.
Ben watches as Bill and Beverly re-establish their bond, which will become romantic. Beverly’s father’s possession by It is the first instance in which It uses humans as Its “dogsbodies,” or servants. The story of Al’s possession foreshadows what also occurs with Tom Rogan.
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It is 11:30 AM when Beverly returns to house on Lower Main Street. As soon as she walks in, her father throws her across the room before she can enter completely. She screams as she hits the wall then the family’s sagging sofa. Al reminds her that he worries about her, and that he sometimes worries a lot. He walks toward her, across the living room, “his face thoughtful, sad, deadly.” He is wearing his khakis and high-top shoes, and Beverly sees that he is leaving mud tracks on the carpet. She thinks of how she will have to vacuum the dirt from his shoes, provided that her father leaves her able to vacuum. The mud looks like the kind from the Barrens.
Al has just come in from work and is alone in the house with Beverly. Beverly is concerned about what her father will do to her, but assumes it will be his usual beatings, the result of his sexual obsession with her. She is more concerned with the dirt on the carpet—not only the fact that she will have to clean it because her father insists that she and her mother clean up after him, but because of where the mud comes from. She wonders why her father was in the Barrens.
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Al strikes Beverly in the face as he tells her that he has seen that she is getting bigger. Beverly asks what her father is talking about and he says that he will beat her within an inch of her life if she lies to him. She realizes that he is not really looking at her but at the Currier and Ives picture over her head, on the wall behind the sofa. Al asks her if she has been in the Barrens with a group of boys. Her heart leaps and she begins to tell him that she plays down there sometimes, but he slaps her again. He asks what she has allowed them to do to her, then demands that she take off her pants so that he can examine her. Beverly  realizes that her father is gone and she is alone in the room with It.
Beverly notices that her father appears to be in a kind of daze. He is his usual violent self, but it also seems as though he is being directed by a force outside of him. This indicates that It is using Al. Al demands that Beverly take off her pants because he wants to ensure that her hymen is still intact—indicating that she is still a virgin. She knows that It is using her father’s sexual obsession with her to threaten and terrorize her.
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Al throws Beverly aside. He says that someone told him that Beverly plays in the Barrens with boys but he did not believe it until he saw for himself that morning. He shouts at her that she is not yet twelve years old and is running around with boys. He kicks her in the thigh, making her scream. He tells her that she is a pretty girl whom plenty of people would be happy to ruin. Finally, Beverly understands what It has put into her father’s head—though part of her knows that the thought was in Al’s head all along and It simply used the tools that were lying around to do Its work.
Al does not merely think that it’s inappropriate for a girl to play alone with boys; he also thinks that the only reason she would be with them is for sexual experimentation. Al regards sex as the “ruin” of Beverly, but also privately insists that no one else will have his daughter if he cannot have her.
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Al tells Beverly that he has seen her smoking. This time, he strikes her with the palm of his hand, sending her reeling back into the kitchen table. She looks at his face and sees him looking at her chest. She is aware that her blouse has come untucked and she is not wearing her only training bra. Her mind slips back to the house on Neibolt Street when Bill gave her his shirt. The glances of the boys had seemed natural to her. Now, she feels guilt mixed with terror. She tucks her blouse back in.
Al’s act of slapping Beverly for smoking will recur when her husband, Tom, later hits Beverly in their car outside of a movie theater for the same offense. In this instance, Beverly becomes resistant to her father’s efforts to control her. As a woman, though, she will relent to Tom, as she cannot seem to escape the pattern of male abuse.
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Beverly explains to her father how she and the other boys simply play in the Barrens. He repeats that he has seen her smoking, and that a girl who smokes will drink, and a girl who drinks will do something he implies to be sexual. Beverly screams that she has not done anything, but her father wants to know what a girl does with boys in the midst of “all that trashwood” if she is not on her back. She screams at him to leave her alone and he tells her not to talk to her father that way. He then demands again that she take off her pants so that he can see that she is intact. Beverly says “no,” which outrages her father.
Especially for young people, smoking is associated with rebelliousness, and Al imagines that the smoking is a sign of Beverly’s loose morals. Beverly attempts to tell Al the truth, but her father’s fantasies about Beverly outweigh his ability to hear the truth. He chooses instead to associate Beverly with the “trashwood” of the Barrens, where, he thinks, only a whore would go. 
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Beverly asks her father who told her that she and the boys play in the Barrens. She asks if it was someone dressed in orange and silver—a clown. She asks if it was a clown. Al tells his daughter to stop, and she tells him to stop. Al swings his hand again, but this time his fist is closed. Beverly ducks and his fist crashes into the wall. He howls and lets go of her. She backs away and he demands that she come back. Beverly tells her father that she loves him, but he wants to hurt her and she cannot allow that. He leaps at her but she grabs the kitchen doorknob and pulls the door open. She runs down the hall toward the front door, “running in a dream of panic, as she  would run from Mrs. Kersh twenty-seven years later.”
Beverly is sure that It has spoken to Al and caused him to believe that she is having sex in the Barrens. As Beverly becomes more resistant to Al, Al becomes more violent. Beverly still struggles between her love for her father and her insistence that she should not have to endure his violence. Her act of running out of the house and away from her father mirrors her encounter with Mrs. Kersh, but also her act of running away from Tom and their home in Chicago years later.
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Beverly bolts out of the screen door and feels her father’s fingers skid down the back of her blouse without catching hold. She goes sprawling on the concrete, losing the skin on both knees. She looks behind her and sees Al coming for her, but It is in his eyes. Beverly runs from It. They run past their neighbors. Their neighbor, Little Lars Theramenius, is pulling a Red Ball Flyer wagon when he sees Al Marsh and notices something so terrible in the man’s eyes that Lars has nightmares for three weeks. In the nightmares, he sees Mr. Marsh turning into a spider in his clothes.
What both Beverly and Lars see in Al’s eyes could either be the silvery color that the children often see in Pennywise’s eyes or the orange deadlights that they will witness when they later confront It. Incidentally, Lars sees Al turning into a spider, which is the final form that It takes when It confronts the Losers’ Club underground.
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Related Quotes
Beverly runs toward downtown and crosses the Canal. Her father screams at her, calling her “a little bitch.” She crosses the street and ducks down an alley that runs behind Warehouse Row. The alley is narrow and cobbled and its cobblestones are slimy. Her father is gaining on her. The alley veers left and Beverly comes to a halt. A city dumpster is parked there and leaves no clearing for her to escape. She can hear Al getting closer. She throws herself down and gets under the dumpster. Her father catches up with her and asks if she is under the truck. Their eyes meet and she tells him to leave her alone. He calls her a “bitch” again and she hauls herself up, now running toward Up-Mile Hill now.
King includes another chase scene for suspense. In this instance, Beverly is not being chased by an evil product of her imagination but by her very real father who can cause her harm whether or not she believes in his power. However, she also knows that It is using her father. Like Tom many years later, Al chases after Beverly and calls her a “bitch.” He is angry with her for not submitting to him, and his anger comes from a very misogynistic place.
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Beverly darts between Feldman’s Storage and the Tracker Brothers’ Annex. This covert is too narrow to pass and is full of crates, weeds, sunflowers, and trash. There is a chain-link fence and Beverly climbs it. She is now at the Derry Theological Seminary. There is a tall hedge between the seminary and Kansas Street. Beverly peers through the hedge and sees Al on the far side of the street, breathing hard. She hopes to God that her father does not find her because she no longer has the energy or breath to run.
Beverly’s hope to God that her father does not find her is somewhat ironic, given that she is standing in front of the theological seminary. She dislikes having to run from her father, but she also fears what he will do if he catches her.
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Al walks slowly down the sidewalk. He does not see Beverly. She picks herself up slowly. Her clothes are covered with garbage. She cannot imagine going home, but she also cannot imagine not going home. She feels that she has defied her father. She wonders if something similar is happening to her friends. She thinks that only Bill would know what to do. She stops walking where the seminary pathway joins the Kansas Street sidewalk. She peers around the hedge and sees that her father is gone. She walks toward the Barrens and thinks that she can spend some time in the “cool clubhouse and try to get herself under some kind of control.”
Beverly feels guilty about resisting her father, as she still loves him and accepts his authority. She wonders if her friends are also being confronted and terrorized by people whom they trust who have been possessed. She longs for Bill—an authority figure she can trust who does not threaten to hurt her. She cannot go back home, so she goes to the only place of comfort that she knows—the Clubhouse.
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Beverly does not hear footfalls behind her, as the boys following her are taking pains to be quiet. They draw closer to her, “walking cat-soft.” “Belch” Huggins and Victor Criss are grinning, but Henry Bowers looks “both vacant and serious.” He has one finger pressed over his lips in a hushing gesture. Henry is becoming increasingly unstable mentally. He hears voices from the moon and the sewers. The voice from the sewer tells Henry to kill Beverly.
When Beverly does not have her father to worry about, she is threatened by Henry, though she does not yet know it. For Belch and Victor, chasing after Beverly is merely another opportunity for mischief. Henry, however, is as murderously obsessed with Beverly as he is with her friends.
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Henry reaches into the pocket of his jeans and pulls out “a slim nine-inch-long instrument with imitation-ivory inlays along its sides.” A small chromium button glitters at one end of it. Henry pushes the button and a six-inch blade emerges. He bounces the switchblade in his palm and walks a little faster. Beverly does not hear the approaching bullies, but she turns her head, based on a feeling, “too clear and direct and powerful to be denied.”
Henry pulls out the knife that Bob Gray sent to him—the one which he has also used to kill “Butch” Bowers in his sleep. The gift of the switchblade is perceived as a sign to Henry that he is justified in killing Beverly and the others. Beverly does not yet see the bullies, but she can feel an evil presence near her. She has escaped one human evil only to face another.
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At 1:55 AM, back at the Derry Public Library in 1985, Mike Hanlon lays his pen aside. He looks across the library’s main room but he does not feel like he is alone here. He cleans the table where the Losers’ Club was drinking and then goes to the Periodicals Room to pick up magazines. He thinks of how the group believes that they remember almost everything. However, there is more and it will come to them all in time.
The group still has not yet recovered their full memory of how to defeat It, though they are getting closer to recalling the ritual of Chüd. Mike is privy to an understanding of memory that the others lack, due to his constant practice of tracking Derry’s history and recording his experiences.
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Mike thinks that maybe he should have told them the rest of it, but something spoke strongly against the idea—probably the voice of the Turtle. He thinks that the repetition of their last act could be a part of the ritual that brings them back together. Perhaps there is a circularity to it. Mike puts away books and stops halfway down the third aisle. He takes out his notebook, which he has pushed so far back on a shelf that it is nearly invisible. He has not logged an entry since April 6th. He uncaps his pen and writes May 31st two lines below the last entry. He begins to write about everything that has happened in the last three days, starting with his phone call to Stanley.
Mike seems to have remembered the group’s performance of the ritual. It is possible that the Turtle warned him against telling the rest of the group about the ritual, due to the sense that they should recall, on their own, how they last sent It away. Mike is able to recall what the others cannot due to his personal ritual of recordkeeping with his diaries. He senses that he may one day forget the things that have happened, just as the group did in 1958.
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Mike writes quietly for fifteen minutes. He thinks of the image of Stan’s severed head, but he banishes it from his mind to continue writing. Five minutes later, he jerks up and looks around, but there is nothing. Still, he has the feeling that he is being watched and wonders if someone from the Losers’ Club has returned. He hears a footstep, moving quietly. Mike walks across the checkout desk. He sees what look like feet and he wonders, with horror, if Stan is returning, after all. There is another footstep and Mike sees shoes and ragged denim. In the darkness, nearly six feet from those shoes, he sees “glittering eyes.”
The “glittering eyes” are a sign of the person being possessed by It. Mike is such a believer in Its tricks that he briefly believes that Stan has been revived from the dead. He half expects his friend’s corpse to approach and speak to him. King builds suspense by making it unclear who Mike is looking at. The reader, however, is prepared for it to be Henry, due to his recent escape from the mental institution and his unkempt appearance.
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Mike reaches over the surface of the circulation desk to get his letter opener. He clutches it tightly and stares into the darkened hallway. He sees the shape to which these legs belong: it is big and hulking, with ragged hair. The shape takes another step and Mike suddenly realizes who it is: Henry Bowers. Mike notices how aged Henry is. Henry emerged from the glass corridor connecting the Children’s Library to the adult library. He greets Mike as “nigger.”
Mike’s letter opener is a sign of his quiet and bookish life, just as Henry’s switchblade is an indication of his life of delinquency and violence. Henry’s emergence from the glass corridor symbolizes his entrance from Mike’s childhood into the present.
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Henry asks Mike if he ever hears voices. Henry says that he hears lots of voices from the moon but, primarily, the voice of It. Henry says that he saw It turn into Frankenstein and tear off Victor Criss’s head. Henry tells Mike about how he hitchhiked with an old man, killed him, then ditched the car in Newport. Just over the Derry town line, Henry heard the voice and looked in a drain, where he found his clothes and his old knife. Mike says that It does not play favorites, and that Henry is a part of Its unfinished business.
Henry is also a believer in It, which justifies his murderous rage toward the Losers’ club. It also used images from the movies, such as Frankenstein, to create the glamours that killed Henry’s old friends and fellow bullies. Like Beverly, Henry heard voices from the drain. It assists Henry, but Mike assures him that this does not mean that It is on Henry’s side.
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Henry lunges at Mike with his knife. Mike steps aside and sticks out a foot, and Henry trips and goes skidding across the floor tiles. Mike goes after him with the letter-opener and realizes that he can finish Henry. However, if he does this, he would be doing It's work. There is also the look on Henry’s face—that of a badly used child. Henry grew up “within the contaminated radius of “Butch” Bowers’s mind.” In a way, he belonged to It long before he knew that It existed.
Mike feels pity for Henry, which prevents him from being able to kill him with the letter opener, despite the threat to Mike’s own life. Mike still sees Henry as “Butch” Bowers’s abused and misguided son. Furthermore, It wants Mike to murder Henry. Its purpose is to spread as much violence and evil as It can, and Mike does not want to contribute.
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Instead of plunging the letter opener into Henry, Mike drops to his knees and grabs at the knife. Henry rolls away and grabs the knife again. Mike tells Henry to put the knife away. He says that he can call the police who will take Henry back to Juniper Hills where he will be safe. When Henry leaps at Mike again, Mike leans back to avoid his awkward rush. Mike sweeps the letter-opener around and feels it go deep into Henry’s arm. Henry screams but, instead of letting go, he tightens his grip. He pulls himself toward Mike and sinks all six inches of his switchblade into Mike’s thigh.
Henry’s attack on Mike is his revenge, based on his father’s belief that the Hanlons were the Bowers family’s primary enemies. Mike remains sympathetic to Henry, who is mentally ill, but still underestimates the risk that Henry poses. Worse, Henry seems almost immune to pain and still has the strength to stab Mike in the thigh, despite having been stabbed in the arm.
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Mike struggles to his feet, but Henry gets up more quickly. Mike thinks that Henry has hit his femoral artery. There is blood everywhere, pouring down his leg and into his loafer. Henry comes at him again, panting like a bull. Mike tells Henry again to drop the knife. There is a sound behind them and then a loud springing sound. Stanley Uris’s head pops up from behind the desk as though from a jack-in-the-box. Its mouth opens, and it begins to chant for Henry to kill Mike. Henry shrieks and rushes at Mike, plunging the knife up and down.
The image of Henry “panting like a bull” is reminiscent of the time that he charged at Ben in the gravel pit, with his head down. Mike still tries to reason with Henry, but in vain. The sight of Stan’s head in a jack-in-the-box is a mockery of Stan’s suicide and another sign that It is encouraging Henry to do Its work. Henry plunges the knife up and down, like a murderer from an old horror movie.
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Mike back-pedals, but there is hardly any feeling left in the leg in which he was stabbed. Henry rushes toward Mike again and Mike plunges the letter-opener into Henry’s stomach. Henry grabs his belly and runs out of the library. Mike’s consciousness is fading. He realizes that he had better use his belt as a tourniquet before he loses so much blood that he dies. He dials the phone number for the hospital. His eyes open wide when Pennywise the Dancing Clown answers the phone. The clown tells Mike that he is dead. Mike looks at the face of the grandfather clock and sees his father’s face, “gray and raddled with cancer.” The eyes turn up to show bulging whites, then his father sticks his tongue out and the clock begins to strike.
 Mike momentarily believes that he has lost so much blood that he died in the library. However, this is merely another one of Its tricks. Mike stabs Henry again, but not fatally. Pennywise toys with Mike’s sense of reality, which is easy to do because Mike is fading in and out of consciousness. The clown uses Mike’s memory of his sick father to mock him and to force Mike to confront his own fear of death.
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Mike loses his grip on the circulation desk. The phone swings before him on its cord and he finds it difficult to hold on to his belt. Mike croaks into the dangling phone for help, offering his name and location. He lies on his side, drawing his legs up into a fetal position. He hears the voice of Pennywise screaming from the phone: "Hello dere, howyadoon? Howyadoon, you dirty coon? Hello.”
Mike is nearing death now, due to the puncture in his femoral artery. The voice of Pennywise mocks him, making him believe that he is already dead. Pennywise also includes racist taunts—a reminder of Henry’s racist harassment of Mike during their childhood.
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Back on Kansas Street at 12:20 PM in 1958, Henry approaches Beverly, calling her a “cunt.” Beverly starts to run but Henry pulls her back by her hair and grins into her face. She struggles to get free. A car horn blasts and an old woman driving past tells Henry to leave Beverly alone. Beverly pleads with the woman for help, saying that Henry has a knife. Henry bares his teeth and runs at the car, dragging Beverly after him by her hair. The pain in her scalp is excruciating and some of her hair has been pulled out. The old lady screams and cranks up the passenger side of the window. She also goes to lock the doors. Henry lifts a boot and kicks out one of her taillights before the old woman speeds down the street.
Henry once again demonstrates that he is not impressed by the superior authority of adults, and he threatens the old woman. Henry’s hatred toward Beverly seems to be directly related to her being a girl, and is probably also due to her being a pretty girl who does not like him. He witnessed his father beat up his mother growing up, and he has seemingly inherited his father’s misogyny as well as his racism.
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Henry turns back to Beverly, smiling again. Beverly lifts her foot and kicks him in the balls. Henry’s grin turns into “a grimace of agony.” He sinks to his knees, holding his crotch, and Beverly sees strands of her coppery hair in his hands. In that instant, her terror turns to hate, and she spits on the top of his head. Then, she turns and runs. “Belch” Huggins and Victor Criss try to help Henry get on to his feet. He insists on chasing after Beverly but “Belch” and Victor say that she is too far away. Henry insists that they will catch her because he knows where she is going: the Barrens.
Beverly knows that she cannot depend on anyone else to help her, so she defends herself in the only way that she knows how. When she renders Henry vulnerable, she becomes less afraid to demonstrate her hatred toward him. Instead of forgetting about Beverly, as his friends encourage, Henry wants to pursue her all the way to the Barrens because he cannot let her think that she got the best of him.
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Back near the Derry Town House in 1985, it is 2:00 AM and Beverly and Bill are walking back to their rooms. Beverly tells Bill that the Losers’ Club were the only friends that she had back then and that she has never been particularly good at making friends, with the exception of Kay McCall in Chicago. Beverly then tells Bill that she needs him to kiss her. Bill thinks of his wife, Audra Phillips, and realizes for the first time that she looks like Beverly. He feels “a pang of unhappy guilt” but takes Beverly in his arms and enjoys her warm, firm, sweet kiss. She prompts him to come up with her up to his room.
Beverly’s friendship with Bill is different from that of the others because of her admiration for him. He is the only man in her life who ever demonstrated loving authority. Bill also encouraged Beverly to believe in herself, as when she doubted that she could shoot the Werewolf. Bill realizes that he loves Beverly, too, and that his love may be part of the reason why he married Audra.
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Bill gets his keys to Room 311. If they had gone to Beverly’s room on the fifth floor, they would have seen the message light blinking on her phone, and the TV desk clerk would have given Beverly the message from Kay McCall. The door opens to Bill’s room and they go inside. Beverly puts his hand on her chest so that he can feel her heart.
Bill and Beverly seem destined to consummate their love for each other. If they had gone to Beverly’s room, they might not have made love, due to Beverly’s concern over Kay and her fear about Tom’s arrival.
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Bill and Beverly make love and, during her second orgasm, the window of memory opens. She recalls a feeling of physical pain mixed with pleasure. She cries out suddenly, “All of you?” Her eyes are wide and stunned. She recalls making love to the entire group of her friends. Bill reminds her that this was her way of getting them out. She looks at him without speaking and sits on the bed. Bill thinks that he will want Beverly again in the morning, and his feeling of guilt about this is only tempered by his knowledge that Audra is an ocean away.
Bill feels guilty about committing infidelity. However, the consummation of his relationship with Beverly will also help them to recover a key memory about how they defeated It. Beverly now recalls that she had her first sexual experience with each member of the Losers’ Club.
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Beverly and Bill go to sleep. She feels Bill’s arm cradling her breast and has a dream. She is running, as though running back to her eleventh year. Beverly is now back in the Barrens and looks to see Silver, but it is not there. Once again, the bullies have caught up with her and Henry points at her. Beverly looks at them for a moment, as though hypnotized, then runs for the clubhouse. As she approaches, Ben stands up. She tells him to shut everything because Henry and his gang are coming. She tells Ben that Henry has a knife. That is enough for Ben, who pulls the trapdoor shut. Beverly comes close and hugs him in the darkness. Beverly then realizes that Richie’s transistor radio is still playing in the darkness. Suddenly, there is a crunch and silence. Ben accidentally crushes the radio.
Beverly is having the same dream that Audra is having on the same night. In her dream, Beverly looks for Silver, which would be a sign of Bill’s presence. The presence of Bill makes her feel safe because she thinks that Bill would know what to do about Henry and the other bullies. In Bill’s absence, Beverly seeks comfort from her protector and admirer—Ben. In a comic moment, Ben then crushes Richie’s radio by sitting on it. It is a happy coincidence, however, because the elimination of the sound prevents the bullies from finding the three friends.
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Beverly and Ben listen for the approach of the bullies. Henry points out to Victor and “Belch” how the Losers’ Club plays in the Barrens. Suddenly, there are footfalls above Beverly and Ben. Beverly notices Ben’s breathing, which comes out “in little bursts.” She thinks that he may start to cry then, but looking at him, she realizes that he is suppressing laughter. He finds the conversation between “Belch” and Henry about how they will “club” Beverly and Ben hilarious. Then, “Belch” farts. Henry yells something about the bank and the bushes and “Belch” follows him. Beverly then asks Ben if he sent her the haiku. Ben denies it initially, then asks how Beverly knew it was him who wrote the poem. She says that she just had a feeling. He tells her that he loves her, but he does not want that to spoil their friendship.
Victor and Belch’s idiotic obsession with carrying out Henry Bowers’s bidding amuses Ben and Beverly, who engage in their first intimate and rather mature conversation about the nature of their relationship. Beverly knows that Ben loves her, but Ben does not want his love to create a sense of obligation in her. What matters most to him is that they remain in each other’s lives. He accepts that she prefers Bill. Ben’s selflessness demonstrates great maturity.
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Ben and Beverly sit for a while without saying anything. She feels safe, and images of her father’s face and Henry’s knife seem less threatening. She tells Ben that Henry is really crazy—“like that kid in Blackboard Jungle.” Ben thinks about Henry’s history of violence, and how haunted he looks, and how one always has to be on the watch for him, as if he were a poisonous snake. Ben then realizes that It is using Henry.
The fear of violence, which has literally followed Beverly all day, subsides when she is with Ben. Henry’s behavior is so strange to Beverly that she can only liken it to a character from the movies. However, Ben attributes Henry’s behavior to more than delinquency. He suspects that Henry has been possessed.
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Beverly goes on to tell Ben about how an old lady saw the bullies trying to beat her up and Henry threatened the elder woman. This is most surprising to Ben because children do not usually assert their presences to adults. The fact that Henry would do so means that he is really crazy. Ben suggests that they go to Kansas Street, and he opens the trapdoor to the clubhouse. He stands up and looks around. There is only silence. He helps Beverly out. He suggests that they stay off the path, but she tells him that they must stay on because they need to hurry.
Henry’s threat to the old woman suggests to Ben that he is capable of anything. Henry is truly crazy, in Ben’s view, because he no longer estimates the risk of his actions. This makes him distinctly different from the other children. Ben wants to stay off the path to avoid Henry, but Beverly worries that this could slow them down.
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Back at the seminary grounds in 1985, it is 2:17 AM. Kansas street is “early-morning silent.” A balloon with a smiley-face is tied to one of the iron bars of a sewer grate. Henry Bowers stands up, with one hand pressed to his bleeding belly. Henry knows that he has been badly injured, but he is sure that Mike Hanlon is dead. Henry walks up to the front door of what used to be the Derry Historical Society. It is barred and has a “No Trespassing” sign. He crawls under the chain and moves to the left so that he is behind the ledge. A police car goes by and its sirens come on. Henry thinks for a moment that he may be caught. Then, he hears “a hellish warbling sound.” He imagines “a huge silky black cat loping in the dark”—It in a new shape. Henry wonders, due to the sirens, if Mike might indeed still be alive, and if he has called the police.
The balloon with the smiley face is Its expression of satisfaction with the job that Henry has done. Henry has a moment of doubt when he sees the approach of the police car, and he worries about being sent back to Juniper Hill. The sight of the black cat could be a reference to another movie that Henry has once seen. Indeed, there is an old film called The Black Cat, based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story is of a murderer who thinks that he has gotten away with a crime but eventually gives himself up out of guilt.
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Henry thinks back to the day when Beverly kicked him in the balls and Victor Criss and “Belch” Huggins helped him get into the Barrens. Henry remembers standing in the clearing and looking around for the location of “their baby treehouse.” However, he was unable to see any treehouse and the “old familiar frustration rose in his throat.” He remembers bending over and picking up a rock. He feels anger inside of him again, “something like a knotted rope around his heart.” He thinks of how Beverly is the cause of this.
The frustration in Henry comes from feeling that he has been outwitted once again by the Losers’ Club. He needs to think that their clubhouse is a “baby treehouse” because he wants the Losers’ Club to remain weaker and smaller than he is forever. The simile describing Henry’s anger as a “rope around his heart” reveals how he is constricted by his hatred.
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In 1958, it is five minutes until 1:00 PM and Henry begins to think that the Losers’ Club has some other hiding place—not a treehouse, but he does not know what it could be. He climbs out of the Kenduskeag, where he is standing, and goes to a pipe jutting over the river. A steady flow of sludge comes out of the pipe and goes into the water. Victor Criss asks what Henry is doing, as Henry puts first his eye and then his ear to the pipe. A voice drifts from the blackness inside. Henry feels frozen for a moment. A clownish smile spreads to his lips.
King suggests the merging of Henry’s personality with that of It, due to Henry’s “clownish smile.” Henry remains in pursuit of the Losers’ Club, determined that they will not outsmart him. The sludge that comes out of the pipe is reminiscent of what was in Beverly Marsh’s teacup when she goes to meet with Mrs. Kersh.
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Henry thinks of how he found his switchblade that morning. It comes when he is standing on the porch, looking into his family’s battered mailbox. There are also balloons on the box—all of them different colors. On the balloons are the faces of the kids who “deviled him all this summer.” The mailbox swings down and he sees “a flat rectangular package inside.” When he opens the brown paper, there is a white box. Inside of the box is a switchknife on a bed of white cotton.
The switchblade arrives in Henry’s mailbox as though it were a surprise birthday present. However, the balloons also come with the subtle message that he is to use the switchblade on the Losers’ Club. Henry ironically perceives the Losers’ Club as “devils” who haunt him, as though they are responsible for his bad behavior.
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Back inside of the house, “Butch” Bowers is lying on the pallet in the bedroom that he shares with Henry. Henry places “the business-end of the switchknife against his father’s scrawny neck.” Henry keeps the knife there for about five minutes. His finger caresses the silver button on the neck of the knife. Then he hears a voice from the moon speak to him. There is a click inside of the knife and the blade plunges into “Butch” Bowers’s throat. His eyes fly open and “Butch” stares at the ceiling. His mouth opens, he gurgles, and a large blood-bubble forms in his mouth. One of his hands goes to Henry’s knee and squeezes it convulsively, then it drops off. “Butch” Bowers is dead.
Henry’s obedience to the voices that he hears leads him to murder his father. In this case, the silver button on the knife is reminiscent of Pennywise’s silvery suit and the silvery shimmer of the clown’s eyes. Henry’s “caress” of the silver button signifies his embrace of his psychopathic personality, as he prepares to cross a point of no return. It uses the anger that Henry already harbored toward Butch to convince the son to kill the father.
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Henry pulls the knife out of his father and wipes it clean. He looks at his father with little interest. He then goes into the other room to call “Belch” and Victor. When he goes out with them, the voice from the moon talks to him all the way to town, prompting him to kill every member of the Losers’ Club. Henry thinks of how he will kill them, then go back to his house, and sit with his father’s “souvenir Jap sword” across his lap and drink one of his father’s Rheingold beers. He will turn on the radio and listen to rock-and-roll. On this one subject, he and the Losers’ Club have something in common.
Henry’s clinical assessment of his father’s murder mirrors Patrick’s attitude after he murdered his younger brother, Avery. However, Patrick was presumably born with mental illness, while Henry’s insanity is the result of a slow mental descent brought on by his father’s abuse and Its possession of Henry’s imagination. By killing his father, Henry thinks that he has asserted his manhood, symbolized by the sword and the beer.
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The boys look back into the Barrens and see Ben Hanscom helping Beverly Marsh out of a hole in the ground. Victor notes how they were standing right on top of them the whole time. Henry prompts Victor and “Belch” to follow them back to town. Henry and the others close in on Ben and Beverly and Henry takes out his knife again.
The bullies are astounded by the ingenuity of the clubhouse—with the exception of Henry, who is only focused on killing Ben and Beverly.
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At 2:30 AM in 1985, Henry takes out his knife and gets a ride in a 1958 Plymouth Fury—the car his father had always wanted. The vehicle is red and white. The car’s passenger door swings open. It is “Belch” Huggins in the driver’s seat, and one of his eyes is missing. His dead lips stretch into a grin. Henry gets in and the door swings shut by itself. The Fury begins to move down Kansas Street toward Up-Mile Hill. Henry asks “Belch” how he is doing, but “Belch” does not reply. Henry notices how ripe “Belch” smells, like rotten tomatoes. Suddenly, the glove compartment flops open, banging Henry in the knees. He sees a bottle of Texas Driver in the compartment, half-full, and takes a swig. Henry tells “Belch” how he never meant to leave him behind in the Barrens.
The Fury appears to Henry because It knows that the car is familiar to him and fondly remembered by him. The sight of Belch does not frighten Henry, but pleases him instead. Henry speaks to Belch as though they are old friends reuniting after years of living separate lives. He expresses guilt for having run away when Belch got attacked by what Henry saw as a Frankenstein monster. In that moment, Henry expressed what he perceives as a rare moment of physical cowardice by running away.
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 Henry thinks back to that day when they followed Ben and Beverly up to Kansas Street. The bullies hid in the bushes, watching Beverly and Ben climb the embankment to the top. Henry then remembers feeling a “bony, leathery hand” on his forearm. Henry screamed at its touch. Something came out of the darkness, though Henry was not able to tell what it was. Then, Victor shrieked, “Frankenstein!” When the monster looked at Henry, he peed his pants. The creature lurched at “Belch,” who only stared.
Henry recently saw I Was a Teenage Frankenstein at the Aladdin Theater. The film probably frightened him as badly as Richie was frightened at the same double-feature by the film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, which is why the image has stuck. The Frankenstein film is about a teenager who gets into a car accident and has his body reconstructed by a scientist.
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In 1985, Henry and the corpse of “Belch” pull up in front of the Derry Town House. Henry thinks that this is where the Losers’ Club will be. “Belch” speaks for the first and last time when Henry tries again to apologize for leaving him to get killed in the Barrens. He says, “Just shut up and get them.” Henry puts the liquor bottle back in the glove compartment, and sees a paper where the bottle was. Written on it is the room number of each of the Losers. Henry gets out and walks, but each step makes the pain in his belly worse. He enters the lobby, which is silent. His shirt and pants are streaked with blood and his eyes are bulging from their sockets. He gets to the elevator and pushes the “Up” button. He decides to go to the topmost room on his list and work his way down.
Henry still doesn’t understand that he is not really talking to Belch but to It. It then assigns Henry with the task of killing each of his old enemies in their rooms. Henry enters the hotel as though he has just walked off the set of a horror film, but no one is present to notice him. His bulging eyes are either an indication of his obsessive anger or his fatigue, or both. Still, Henry is committed to performing the task and agrees to start at the top to make it easier for him to escape after he reaches his last victim.
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Henry rechecks his paper and sees that Eddie is in room 609. Henry pulls the switchblade from his pocket. He knocks on the door and a sleepy voice responds. Henry pretends to be a bellboy with a message for Eddie from his wife. There is a pause then “a metallic rattle” as Eddie fumbles with the chain on the door. In just a moment, Henry thinks he will plunge the blade into Eddie’s throat.
Henry’s ruse mirrors that of Tom when he approached Kay McCall’s home. The link between Henry and Tom will become clearer when King merges them as doppelgangers later in the novel. In this instance, Henry fantasizes about how he will kill Eddie, as though finishing the job he started in 1958.
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At 1:20 PM in 1958, Eddie sees Stanley and Richie coming out of the Costello Avenue Market. Eddie asks for a lick of Richie’s Rocket pop. Richie warns him about germs, but Eddie says that he will chance it and takes a couple of licks. Stan offers Eddie the rest of his. Bill rolls up to them on Silver, doing about twenty miles per hour, and shouts for them to wait up. Eddie remarks on how quiet it is in town, since so many people have left on vacation. They cross to the Barrens side of Kansas Street and see Ben and Beverly running toward them.
The benefit of Eddie getting beaten up and spat upon is that he is less squeamish about germs and is no longer so worried about getting sick. He allows himself to be a kid, which includes sharing food with his friends. He also realizes that his fear of germs, imposed by his mother, was yet another tactic to keep him from forming other relationships.
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Beverly is panting when she reaches them and tells them how Henry has a knife and they cannot go down into the Barrens. Ben tells Bill that Henry really has gone crazy, and Beverly retells the story of how Henry and the other bullies followed her down the street. Ashamed, she omits the part about Al.
Beverly leaves out the part about her father chasing her because she does not want her friends to know about the abuse that she suffers at home. This shows just how isolating and terrifying domestic abuse can be.
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Bill tells everyone that they are going down to the Barrens. He insists that it belongs to the Losers’ Club and they will not give it up to the bullies. Eddie asks if it is not just Henry, Victor, and “Belch” in the Barrens. Bill turns to Stan and asks if he has his bird book. Stan taps his hip pocket to indicate that he does. The group goes down the embankment, single-file, and Richie pushes Silver down. When they reach the bottom, Bill puts his bike at its customary place under the bridge. Eddie feels that the quality of the light has changed, reminding him of the light from the house on 29 Neibolt Street. A streak of lightning goes through the clouds, and then thunder comes.
Bill insists that the group has to assert their possession of the Barrens, just as they did during the rockfight. If they do not, Henry will know that he has absolute dominance over the group, for there is no other place in town where they could be safe. The change in light seems to be an omen to Eddie. The arrival of the storm on this day in 1958 parallels the cataclysmic storm that destroys Derry in 1985.
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Back in Eddie room in 1985, it is 3:05 AM. He opens the door to see a monster from a horror comic. Henry Bowers stands before him, looking like a corpse awakened from the grave. Eddie slams the door closed and there is a crunch as it pinches against Henry’s arm. Henry throws his weight against the door and easily gets through because he weighs so much more than Eddie. Eddie is driven backwards like a ragdoll and hits the bed, where he falls. Henry’s eyes drop to the floor, where he has dropped the knife. Eddie grabs a bottle of Perrier and breaks the neck of the bottle. Henry calls Eddie a “babyfag” and says that he will teach him to throw rocks.
Henry, oddly, resembles the Teenage Frankenstein from his childhood nightmares. With his bloodied body, he looks as though he has just been in a car accident. Despite having been stabbed twice, Henry is still remarkably strong. His strength comes from his single-minded purpose and determination to kill Eddie. Henry’s speech to Eddie is an indication of his obsession. He still imagines Eddie as a fragile little boy and he remains angry about the rockfight.
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Henry grabs for Eddie and Eddie rips the jagged part of the Perrier bottle through Henry’s face. Henry screams and staggers backward. His eye has been slit and hangs loosely from its socket, and his cheek sprays blood. Now, Eddie screams, and he thrusts the bottle at Henry again, this time cutting Henry’s left hand and sawing into his fingers. Henry shoves Eddie with his right hand and Eddie falls backward. His left arm twists behind him and he feels the pain of his old break. Henry is now standing over him.
Henry now looks truly grotesque. Eddie screams at the revolting sight but is determined to kill Henry, or at least keep him at bay. Henry still maintains enough strength to shove Eddie, however, and Eddie then feels the pain from the first injury that Henry caused him in 1958.
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Eddie holds up the stump of the Perrier bottle and plunges it into Henry’s sternum. Henry falls and twitches “like a landed trout.” His final sound is “gug.” Eddie stands up. Henry gets up, too, and makes the “gug” sound again. He opens his mouth and blood gushes out, and then Henry collapses a final time. Eddie’s heart is racing as he fumbles for the telephone. The desk clerk answers and Eddie asks for Bill Denbrough’s room. Bill answers the phone, sounding cautious. Eddie tells him how Henry Bowers entered his room and Eddie killed him.
Determined not to fall victim to Henry again, Eddie kills him. King’s comparison of Henry to a trout suggests that Henry’s death is a kind of conquest for Eddie (like a trophy fish he has caught), as Henry was one of the things Eddie feared most growing up. Also, by killing Henry, Eddie feels like he asserts his own masculinity, which Henry had called into question by calling him a “babyfag.”
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Back in the Barrens in 1958, Bill explains that he led everyone back down there to help them understand that no place in Derry is safe. He struggles to speak without stuttering. He insists that Derry is It. The children think of their experiences that morning and how, at some point between breakfast and lunch, they all became ghosts to the adults around them. Richie thinks of how safe they would all be if they could just get out of town. Then, Henry’s voice calls to them: “Teach you to throw rocks!”
Bill comes to the same realization in 1958 that Don Hagarty has in 1985—the town is evil. There is no escaping from It as long as Derry exists and continues to thrive without confronting the evil that it willingly harbors. The adults are complicit in ignoring what is going on so that everything can continue to function like normal.
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Ben tells Bill that they should run. Two rocks fly out of the bushes and one of them hits Stanley. Bill asks Ben if he remembers their first day in the Barrens, and indicates that the pumping station is where they are supposed to go. He tells Ben to take them there. More rocks whizz past them. Ben knows exactly which pumping station Bill is talking about—it runs along both banks of the Kenduskeag at irregular intervals. Bill insists that the pumping station is the way to It.
The children are taking care of two problems at once by going to the pumping station, and then underground into the sewage system. They will get away from Henry, who will probably not follow them into the sewer, and they can also confront It and end the evil that lurks in Derry, instead of simply trying to run away, as Richie would like to do.
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Meanwhile, Henry tosses a “fist-sized chunk of rock” and hits Ben in the buttocks. Mike finds a piece of scrapwood left over from building the clubhouse roof and throws that, hitting Henry in the forehead. Bill and the rest of the gang run while the bullies chase them. At first, Ben does not know where the pump is, but then he sees the leaning tree with the eroded cave underneath. Lightning flashes again and, this time, Ben can hear the pipe. Thunder explodes—not above them, but around them. Ben goes splashing through the river. He reaches the tree and climbs over, and the others follow. When Richie sees Victor Criss, he chucks another rock at him. The bullies disappear into the underbrush.
The Losers’ Club make their way toward It while also fending off Henry and his minions. The lightning and thunder are warnings to them not to approach It. Ben remembers this pump from the day when he hid from Henry and the other bullies. That was also the day in which he met Bill Denbrough and Eddie Kaspbrak. By splashing through the river and climbing over the leaning tree, Ben expresses a physical dexterity that he did not have earlier in the novel.
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Bill looks at Richie, Mike, and Stan and tells them that they have to get the lid off of the pump. Inside, iron rungs descend into “a circular pool of black water.” They help each other go down. Eddie whispers that he is scared, and Bill says that he is scared, too. They hear Victor yell to Henry that he sees Richie, and then see Henry again, with the knife. Richie gives Henry the middle finger. Henry shouts that they will die in the sewer. Henry then climbs after them but freezes about three rungs down. The seven Losers are at the bottom, waiting in a circle. Bill prompts the others to get Henry and they grab him by the ankles. Richie bites him and Henry prompts the other bullies to throw down rocks after he pulls himself out of the hole.
The circular pool of black water resembles a pit to hell or the sticky, black liquid that oozed out of the mattress in the house on Neibolt Street. Henry freezes while climbing down the ladder because he, too, is scared of what lives in the sewer. Moreover, the losers’ have formed their circle of seven, which signals completion. Seeing the completion of their circle and being underground without the help of the other two bullies suddenly makes Henry nervous.
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Beverly turns away from Henry and looks “along the bore of the inflow pipe.” If enough water rises, they could drown. She asks Bill if they have to go in and Bill shrugs to indicate that, yes, obviously they have to go in. Richie asks Bill to remind him of the ritual Bill read about in a book: the ritual of Chüd. Richie says he cannot think of a single joke. Stanley asks if Bill knows where the pipe goes. Bill shakes his head—he also doesn’t know how to find It. The Losers form a single-file procession, like a group of blind people. Bill takes the lead and takes them to the dark place where his brother George’s boat disappeared many years before.
Bill leads the group instinctively through the tunnel. He is guided by his memory of what happened to his brother and his desire to avenge George’s death. He knows the risk that is involved in being in the sewer, including the possibility that he and his friends could die. Though he does not know where It is, the group follows him, believing that he will intuit where they need to be.
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