It

It

by

Stephen King

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The Paper Boat Symbol Analysis

The Paper Boat Symbol Icon

The paper boat is a paraffin-lined boat made out of a piece of the classified section of the Derry News. Bill Denbrough makes the boat for his little brother, George Denbrough, who plays with it on the flooded streets of Derry. The boat, which careens along the sidewalks while George chases after it, is a symbol of innocence. Innocence, like the paper boat, is a fragile thing that can be harmed by forces beyond its control, just as George is mortally wounded by Pennywise the Dancing Clown when his boat gets stuck in a storm drain and George goes to retrieve it.

Yet even after George’s death, the narrator says that the boat “was still afloat and still running on the breast of the flood when it passed the incorporated town limits of Derry, Maine.” This suggests that innocence can triumph over evil by enduring. The narrator imagines the paper boat reaching the sea, “like a magic boat in a fairy tale,” and thriving in the indifferent universe that is the ocean. When Bill sends his first book off to be published, he chooses The Viking Press because he likes its ship logo—another sign that he wishes to recapture, in his adult life, the childhood innocence and happiness that becomes elusive after George’s death.

The Paper Boat Quotes in It

The It quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Paper Boat. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of It published in 2017.
Chapter 21 Quotes

Bill marked it as a paper boat. Stan saw it as a bird rising toward the sky—a phoenix, perhaps. Michael saw a hooded face—that of crazy Butch Bowers, perhaps, if it could only be seen. Richie saw two eyes behind a pair of spectacles. Beverly saw a hand doubled up into a fist. Eddie believed it to be the face of the leper, all sunken eyes and wrinkled snarling mouth—all disease, all sickness, was stamped into that face. Ben Hanscom saw a tattered pile of wrappings and seemed to smell old sour spices […] Henry Bowers would see it as the moon, full, ripe…and black.

Related Symbols: The Paper Boat
Page Number: 1048
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Paper Boat Symbol Timeline in It

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Paper Boat appears in It. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: After the Flood
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...of 1957 and does not end for another 28 years. It starts after a paper boat made from newspaper floats into a gutter “swollen with rain.” It has been raining steadily... (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
George splashes along in the water that carries his paper boat “from one side of Witcham Street to the other.” George is happy to play in... (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...go play. Bill is sitting up in bed and has just finished making the paper boat. He asks George to go to the basement to get him the paraffin wax, a... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...The boys watch as the cube melts. Bill explains that this will keep the paper boat waterproof. He does not stutter much, if at all, while talking to George. On the... (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...into the melted but cooling wax and smear it around the sides of the paper boat. George tells his brother that he wishes that he could come along. Bill agrees and... (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
George chases his paper boat down Witcham Street. He watches with concern as his boat heads toward the opening of... (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
...like an offering of ripe fruit. In the other hand, the clown holds George’s paper boat. (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
The clown offers to give George both his paper boat and a balloon, but George is reluctant to take it due to his father’s warning... (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Pennywise again asks George if he would like to have his paper boat. The clown holds it up, smiling. George can now see his costume, which is “a... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Somewhere down below, the paper boat continues on. It sweeps “through knighted chambers and long concrete hallways.” While Sharon Denbrough is... (full context)
Chapter 19: In the Watches of the Night
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...Bill takes the lead and takes them to the dark place where his brother George’s boat disappeared many years before. (full context)
Chapter 21: Under the City
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...They have come to the place of It. Bill imagines the mark as a paper boat. Henry, coming behind them, sees it as the moon—"full, ripe…and black.” (full context)
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Fear and the Power of Fantasy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
George tells Bill that they can look for his paper boat together. George says that it is still “down here” and they all float in that... (full context)
Chapter 23: Out
Evil and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...they see a child in a red rainslicker and green rubber boots sailing a paper boat “along the brisk run of water in the gutter.” Bill smiles and steps forward. He... (full context)