The Losers’ Club—a group of prepubescent social misfits which includes Bill Denbrough, Ben Hanscom, Richie Tozier, Stanley Uris, Beverly Marsh, and Eddie Kaspbrak—is brought back together decades later through a phone call from their sixth member, Mike Hanlon. Mike reminds them of a blood oath they all took in childhood, vowing to return to Derry if It ever resurrected itself and started killing again. When the inevitable occurs in 1985, each member feels called upon to fulfill this commitment. Stan, rather than face the fear that caused him so much “offense” in childhood, commits suicide—but the gang does not perceive Stan’s suicide as an act of disloyalty, instead mostly worrying that their power will be reduced with one less member. Through his depiction of the Losers’ Club from childhood to adulthood, King presents friendship as an antidote to evil, and shows how the gang’s unbreakable loyalty fosters the bond that makes it possible for them to destroy It.
The Losers’ Club creates a circle of power in childhood. This power, Bill realizes in the end, is borne from the “desire” of children—that is, their desire to believe and have hope in themselves and in each other when no one else does. With the exceptions of Hanlon and Uris, who suffer enough from being outcasts due to being black and Jewish, respectively, each member of the club comes from a troubled home and has parents who do not appreciate them as they are. The club forms as an antidote to this rejection and to that which the group suffers from their peers. In this regard, their friendship has supernatural power, but it also provides a simple, human comfort.
During difficult moments in both childhood and adulthood, the group expresses frequent affection to each other through group hugs and by professing their love for each other. This tenderness between them is easy and natural and makes up for the absence of tenderness in their home lives. The hugs are correctives to the beatings that Beverly experiences at the hands of her father, and the declarations of love from her friends contrast with her father’s claims that she is someone to “worry about.” The group’s tolerance of Richie’s barbed humor and voice impressions contrast with his mother’s lack of understanding and his father’s coldness. The Losers’ Club is a kind of family in itself, formed through most of its members’ lack of a sense of belonging at home or, in the cases of Stanley and Mike, in the larger community.
For some members of the group, these are their first and only friendships. The members of the Losers’ Club are Ben’s first friends, and they are Eddie’s, too. Of all the members’ parents, Eddie’s mother, Sonia Kaspbrak, is most averse to her son’s friendship with the group and blames them when Eddie is badly beaten up and has his arm broken by Henry Bowers. For Sonia, the group’s bond threatens to destroy her control over Eddie and her insistence on his co-dependency, which she believes will prevent him from growing up and leaving her all alone. Eddie rejects her attempt to destroy his friendships, however, for the first time asserting independence from his mother. In this instance, friendship is not only a source of comfort but one of the ways in which the children can assert their own needs and identities.
As a girl, Beverly is an outlier even within the group. Though Mike and Stan are also “different,” the group knows and understands little about the racism and anti-Semitism that the adult world uses to mark them. On the other hand, the boys know that Beverly’s body is distinctly different from theirs. As they grow up, that physical difference, and its ability to arouse desire, is what separates their childhood friendship from what will become their adult friendship. This desire also becomes a key aspect of forming a stronger circle, in an effort to destroy It.
The first time the group sends It away in 1958, Beverly offers her body to each of the boys—the very thing that her father has obsessed over—to strengthen their bond. The sexual act is the bridge between their childhood friendship and their commitment to each other in adulthood. Each of the boys goes to her, in a kind of sexual ritual that Beverly initiates and guides them through. King uses Beverly to help the boys pass from childhood to adulthood, through their realization of sexuality through her. The act also empowers Beverly, for it gives her an understanding of her sexuality, which her father seeks to contain and control for his own evil purposes.
Later in the novel, Beverly consummates her childhood crush on Bill when the group reunites in Derry. The act is not only the expression of a long-held desire but it is one that briefly conflates Beverly with Bill’s wife, Audra Phillips, who, in a dream, merges with Beverly. Audra’s dream results in her fear that she will lose Bill to another woman—a concern that Bill’s commitment to the group has resulted in disloyalty to her. On the contrary, Bill’s commitment to the Losers’ Club reinforces his commitment to Audra, for without them, he cannot relinquish his obsession and commit more fully to his marriage.
Most members of the Losers’ Club experience unconditional love only through their bond to each other. The club is also a refuge from abuse, prejudice, and the pain of loss. Though their circle diminishes because of Stan’s suicide, Eddie’s death at the hands of It, and every member’s slow loss of memory, their bond persists through their mutual desires for connection, which they learned to foster through each other.
Friendship and Loyalty ThemeTracker
Friendship and Loyalty Quotes in It
What a bunch of losers they had been—Stan Uris with his big Jew-boy nose, Bill Denbrough who could say nothing but "Hi-yo, Silver!" without stuttering so badly that it drove you almost dogshit, Beverly Marsh with her bruises and her cigarettes rolled into the sleeve of her blouse, Ben Hanscom who had been so big he looked like a human version of Moby Dick, and Richie Tozier with his thick glasses and his A averages and his wise mouth and his face which just begged to be pounded into new and exciting shapes. Was there a word for what they had been? Oh yes. There always was. Le mot juste. In this case le mot juste was wimps…
He saw the gratitude in their eyes and felt a measure of gladness for them…but their gratitude did little to heal his own horror. In fact, there was something in their gratitude which made him want to hate them. Would he never be able to express his own terror […]? Because in some measure at least he was using them […] And was even that the bottom? No, because George was dead, and if revenge could be exacted at all, Bill suspected it could only be exacted on behalf of the living. And what did that make him? A selfish little shit waving a tin sword and trying to make himself look like King Arthur? Oh Christ, he groaned to himself, if this is the stuff adults have to think about I never want to grow up. His resolve was still strong, but it was bitter resolve. Bitter.
He touches his wife's smooth back as she sleeps her warm sleep and dreams her own dreams; he thinks that it is good to be a child, but it is also good to be grownup and able to consider the mystery of childhood…its beliefs and desires, I will write about all of this one day, he thinks, and knows it's just a dawn thought, an after-dreaming thought. But it's nice to think so for awhile in the morning's clean silence, to think that childhood has its own sweet secrets and confirms mortality, and that mortality defines all courage and love. To think that what has looked forward must also look back, and that each life makes its own imitation of immortality: a wheel.