It

It

by

Stephen King

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It: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tom Rogan is having a dream in which he is killing his father. When Tom was in the third grade, Ralph Rogan committed suicide with a gin-and-lye cocktail, so Tom knows that he did not actually kill his father. Tom struggles to wake up, but he cannot. The best he can do is fade into a new dream. In this one, he is “splashing and slogging his way down a long dark tunnel.” There are some kids up ahead, and he feels that they need to pay. He enters a smelly place with a special friend who has balloons, and he and his friends hear them. What matters to Tom is that Beverly is up there with those kids. It occurs to Tom that Beverly has been doing worse than sneaking smokes; she has also been sleeping with Bill Denbrough.
In his dream, Tom merges with Henry Bowers, and briefly believes that he killed “Butch” Bowers. In denying this to himself, he recalls his own father’s troubled history. In the second dream, he is again Henry, this time in pursuit of Beverly and Bill. Tom’s anger toward Beverly coalesces with that of Henry. Henry is angry with Beverly for kicking him in the balls, thereby wounding his male pride. Tom is angry with Beverly because he rightfully suspects that she has had an affair with Bill.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Tom imagines himself in the dream, picking up the pace and encouraging his friends to come along. A boy with a split face and lips moving in two pieces says they are moving as quickly as they can. Tom is unclear of where he is and becomes aware of a “faint but clear white light.” Then, he remembers leaving the bathroom door open and the fluorescent light on in there. He always leaves lights on in strange places to avoid bumping his shins into things. This fact about himself brings him back to reality. He realizes, however, that he has not simply had a nightmare.
Tom sees himself running through the sewers again. Though he does not realize it, he is intuiting—or learning, as a result of Its invasion of Tom’s mind—where the Losers’ Club will be later that evening. Tom also knows that his nightmare has revealed true and important things about Beverly and her whereabouts.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Tom gets up slowly and fumbles for a glass of water. He thinks to himself to go back to sleep and wait until morning. Then, a voice tells him that there will be too many people around in the morning. If he leaves now, he can be first down there, but Tom is unsure of where “down there” is. He remembers the dripping water from his dream. Suddenly, the light from the bathroom gets brighter and he sees a balloon tied to the knob of the bathroom door. The balloon glows. It is filled with a ghostly white light. An arrow is printed on in scarlet-red, pointing out the door and toward the hall.
The voice is the same one that guides and encourages Henry Bowers. However, Tom is unfamiliar with this voice and feels more puzzled than obedient. Still, Tom is able to connect Its reference to “down there” with the sewer from his dream. The white light from the balloon is connected to the sense of comfort Tom gets from leaving fluorescent lights on. The light indicates that the voice and its directives are familiar and sympathetic.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Tom hears a voice coming from within the balloon. It says that it doesn’t matter where the voice comes from, only that the voice wants Beverly and the rest of them to “take a whuppin.” Tom listens while the voice from the balloon explains everything. Then, when it is done speaking, it pops in one final flash of light and Tom gets dressed.
Tom takes his cues from a voice from within a mysterious balloon, just as Henry took his cues from a voice that he believed came from the moon. The voices validate the men’s evil impulses.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
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Audra Phillips is also having nightmares and wakes with a start. Like Tom Rogan, she has the feeling of being someone else. She is aware of being chased, and Bill Denbrough is in her dream. Bill is only a boy in this dream—ten or twelve years old. She feels terrified. Then, they come to a series of tunnels. A boy with his arm in a cast tells them which one they need. They go that way, and there is a door. In the dream, she thinks that her name is “Beverly.”
In her dream, Audra becomes Beverly’s doppelganger, experiencing the group’s last confrontation with It in 1958. Though Audra does not know it, the answer to Bill’s obsession lies within her dream. Eddie also appears in the dream as the navigator.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Audra awakes with a start, sweating. She vigorously rubs her hands across her face and the “mental vertigo” subsides. She realizes that she is in Derry, Maine. Her bad dreams carry over into her waking, and the only thing that grounds her is her thought of Bill and her knowledge that he is from this town. A chill runs through her and Audra thinks that she might be crazy. She then concludes that it is merely jet-lag; no one is talking to her inside of her head. Then a voice comes from the bathroom. It giggles, then drops in pitch to sound like a gurgling drain. Audra tells herself that she heard no voice. She feels that she needs Bill. She turns on the light on the bed-table and looks at her watch. It is twelve past three. She gets the phone book and dials for the Derry Town House.
Whereas It goes to Tom with sympathy and a sense of common purpose, It mocks Audra. Her fear is that Bill is with another woman and will eventually leave her all alone. She has arrived in Derry because she wants to know Bill’s secret and ensure that there are no secrets between them. She has a feeling of “mental vertigo,” which will become a more literal sensation of vertigo when she gets caught in Its web.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
A voice comes on the phone and Audra asks it to dial Bill Denbrough’s room. Halfway through the seventh ring, the connection is broken. The desk clerk tells her that Bill is not answering, but that he had an inter-room call about five minutes earlier. She drops the phone back into its cradle and feels herself starting to cry. She tries to get a hold of herself. Then, the bathroom light comes on. She hears the voice again, low and dragging, telling her, “We all float down here, Audra.” She asks, “Who’s there?” The television flickers on. She sees a clown in a silvery suit with big orange buttons “capering around on screen.” It has teeth like razors and holds up Freddie Firestone’s severed head.
Audra knows that Bill is at the Derry Town House. His inability or unwillingness to answer his phone at such a late hour either means that something bad has happened to him, or he is with someone and does not wish to be disturbed. Audra then hears the voice of the clown. Pennywise tricks Audra into believing that he has decapitated Freddie Firestone. The clown also has the razor-like teeth that Ben Hanscom saw when Pennywise confronted him at the library.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Audra tries to scream but nothing more than a small whine comes out. She grabs blindly for her dress and her purse. She bolts into the hall and slams the door behind her. She hears the low, chuckling voice behind her, uttering, “Float.” She gets outside and into the parking lot and looks around wildly for her car. She spots it, then she sweeps through her purse, looking for her keys. Suddenly, a hand falls on her shoulder. She turns around and sees a man’s face looming over hers. His lips, which are swollen, curl into a grotesque smile. His teeth are broken and jagged. Tom Rogan asks, “Haven’t I seen you in the movies?”
Audra decides that she must leave, though she is not yet clear about where she is going. Tom, like Henry Bowers, looks grotesque when he confronts Audra. His question to her is slightly ironic. Though she is a movie star, Tom looks more like a figure from the movies—a horror movie. The two “adult versions” of Beverly and Henry—Audra and Tom—now face off just as their doppelgangers did decades before.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Beverly and Bill dress quickly and go to Eddie’s room. They hear a phone bell ring faintly. Beverly asks if it is Bill’s phone. He supposes it could be another of their friends calling. When they get upstairs, Eddie opens the door for them. He says he is okay. Bill looks past him at the body on the floor. Beverly stares down at Henry Bowers’s body and notes that he does not look old at all. Then, she turns to look at Eddie, whose arm is limp in his lap. Eddie, she thinks, looks “old and haggard.” She recommends that they call the doctor, but both Bill and Eddie insist that they cannot go outside. If they do, they will involve the whole town. An accident could occur or some obstruction to what they need to do.
Beverly’s sense that Henry “does not look old at all” may come from the fact that, due to his obsession with the Losers’ Club and fixation on the memories of 1958, Henry did not grow up much. Eddie looks old because he is tired and again experiencing the pain from his old injury. Bill and Eddie worry that if they call a doctor, they will have to explain what happened and others will not understand how Henry was possessed by It.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Bill asks Eddie where the knife is. Beverly looks for it on the floor, but Eddie tells her not to bother, because he kicked it under the TV and it has since disappeared. Bill tells Beverly to call the others while he splints Eddie’s arm. She calls Richie, then Ben. Both of them agree to come right away. She calls Mike last, but no one answers. Bill suggests that she try the library. Before she can try, Ben and Richie enter and see Henry Bowers on the floor. Eddie tells them what happened, while Beverly calls the library. The phone is picked up on the second ring and a voice that she has never before heard says “hello.”
The knife disappears because It has reclaimed it. When Ben and Richie see Henry on the floor, it seems as though one evil that has haunted the Losers’ Club’s lives has been conquered. Beverly then knows something bad has happened when she hears the strange voice answer  the phone at the library, for Mike should be the only one to answer the library’s phone at this hour.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Beverly asks for Mike Hanlon, and voice asks her who is calling. She counters, “Who are you?” The voices announces itself as the Derry Chief of Police Andrew Rademacher. He says that Mike is at the Derry Home Hospital because he was assaulted and badly wounded a short time ago. He then asks for Beverly’s name. She asks how badly Mike has been hurt. Bill puts his hand on her shoulder then takes her free hand. All of the friends place their hands on top of the other’s. Rademacher asks for her name again and she says that she cannot tell him. He demands to know what Beverly knows about the situation, given how odd it is to call a library at three-thirty in the morning. Beverly worries that Mike may be dying, but she hangs up on the chief. She looks over at Henry Bowers. One of his eyes is closed, while the other one oozes liquid. He seems to be winking at her.
Beverly cannot tell the chief anything because she is afraid that he will try to implicate her in Mike’s assault, and if she were to explain to the chief what really happened, he would not believe her. The friends support her and then each other, because they know that they are the only ones who can solve this problem for Derry, and they must do it together. The police only deal in the world of concrete facts and would not understand Its power over the imagination. This power makes Beverly think, for an instant, that Henry Bowers has become animated again.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Richie calls the hospital, pretending to be a reporter from the Derry News, to get information about Mike’s condition. He tells the others that Mike is alive but in grave condition. Beverly begins to cry. Bill asks Beverly if she still wants to go to the police. She says that she doesn’t; indeed, something unpleasant—something final—could happen to them if they call the police. Ben worries that the odds are against them because they are now two friends short.
Bill retains his mistrust of the police, which he first expressed in childhood. He knows that they will not believe them or be willing to understand. What is more likely is that one of the group will stand accused of attempting to murder Mike, causing someone to be arrested and the Losers’ Club to lose another member.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The group take Eddie’s borrowed limo from the hotel. Richie turns on the radio. Just as Bill asks him to turn it off, the clown’s voice comes on the radio announcing the “Richie Tozier All-Dead Rock Show.” Suddenly, the voice of George Denbrough comes on. Bill’s brother wails about how Bill sent him out for It to kill him. Richie snaps off the radio so hard that the knob falls off and hits the floor. Bill’s face is pale and thoughtful as they pass under the streetlamps. Thunder mutters in the west.
It mocks Richie again, using his love of rock-and-roll to taunt him, just as It did during Richie’s visit to the City Center. It also uses Bill’s lingering guilt about somehow causing George’s death. The fact that Bill’s face becomes “pale and thoughtful” indicates that Bill has not fully coped with his feelings of guilt.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Richie parks beside the bridge in the Barrens under which Bill used to park Silver. They all go to the clearing where the clubhouse once was, and Ben tells them to look. He pulls at the mahogany door they had used to close up the clubhouse. It’s been cast aside and looks as though it hasn’t been touched in a dozen or more years. Richie tells him to leave it alone because it’s old. Then, Bill asks Ben to take them across the Kenduskeag and toward the pumping-station’s concrete cylinder. There, they see the strap of something under the cylinder. Richie helps Ben, and they flip the cylinder “like a giant coin.” Bill’s eyes are fixed on the strap, which belongs to a bag that he bought for his wife, Audra, in a Burbank leather-goods store. Richie asks Bill what’s wrong, and Bill screams.
The bridge in the Barrens is similar to the glass corridor, in that it symbolizes a passage that leads to It—the evil that entered the Losers’ Club lives and robbed them of their childhood innocence. Richie tells Ben to leave the old door to the clubhouse alone because they no longer have any use for it. Instead, they need to go to the pumping station. Bill thinks that Ben will instinctively remember where it was, so he asks him to lead the group there. When Bill sees the strap, which belongs to Audra’s purse, he knows that she is in Derry and has been harmed.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Bill grabs the matches that Beverly has brought and lights one. Then, he yanks the purse away from Ben. Bill unzips the purse and turns it over. Amid the Kleenex, makeup, and can of mints, he finds the jeweled compact that Freddie Firestone gave Audra when she signed on to do Attic Room. When they find her driver’s license they realize, conclusively, that this is Audra’s handbag. Bill wonders who has her, and Ben says that they had better go down and find out. Bill bends over so that Eddie can climb on his back, as he did once before. Bill feels his way down, step by step and rung by rung. Eddie says that he’s scared. Bill says that he is, too.
The only way that Bill can get Audra back is by confronting It. However, he does not seem to know this initially because he wonders “who” has Audra, suspecting that a person has kidnapped her. He seems to sense rightly, without knowing for sure, that Tom has taken Audra. The group approaches Its lair just as they did in 1958. They retrace their steps because they want to ensure that they do everything correctly.
Themes
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon