The Haunting of Hill House

by

Shirley Jackson

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The Haunting of Hill House: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Eleanor, exhausted and pale, sits beside Luke outside on the steps of Hill House’s smaller, adjoining summer home. They are having a deep discussion about how impossible it is to ever really know another person. Luke confesses that he never had a mother, and is always looking for someone to “make [him] be grown-up.” Eleanor privately finds Luke’s expression of this sentiment to be selfish, but tells him she feels sorry for how lonely he must be. Luke tells Eleanor that she is lucky to have had a mother.
The house’s influence is beginning to wear on Eleanor—and, it seems, on the others as well. Eleanor is tired and worn out, while Luke finds himself ruminating on the pain and suffering he’s endured. Eleanor has a hard time feeling sympathy for Luke, and possibly feels he’s monopolizing her time, even as he’s simply trying to get closer to her.
Themes
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Later, back inside, Luke presents the group with a book he has found in the library—a book made by hand by Hugh Crain for his eldest daughter. It is a kind of scrapbook which Luke feels has been designed to teach the girl “humility.” The book is a strange collage full of Bible quotations mashed up with horrible drawings and etchings. It warns again and again of eternal damnation, and features a section which details the levels of hell. There are sexually explicit drawings and terrifying descriptions of “everlasting fire,” and as the group looks over it, they are all deeply perturbed. On the last page of the book, Crain writes that he has smeared the page with his own blood to “bind” his daughter to the lessons within the tome. After finishing the book, Theodora curses Crain for writing a dirty book and building a dirty house.
The disturbing tome Luke presents to the group doesn’t necessarily seem connected to the hauntings—but it suggests that Crain was truly a disturbed man, and is in some way responsible for Hill House’s nature. His desire to stave off sin and damnation may be connected to very real fears stirred up by the house itself, and his impassioned book may have been a misguided last-ditch effort to protect his family from being taken over by sinister forces beyond their control.
Themes
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
While Montague and Luke play chess, Theodora teases Eleanor about whether she’ll invite Luke over to her apartment after they’re all done at Hill House. She mentions Eleanor’s “cup of stars” and “stone lions,” seeming to make reference to lies Eleanor has told about her life beyond Hill House. Feeling attacked, Eleanor runs out of the study and onto the lawn, but Theodora follows her, and they fall into silence as they walk into the darkness. Theodora and Eleanor apologize to one another, but Theodora warns Eleanor to stay away from Luke. As they walk on across the grounds in silence, Eleanor feels they have an almost psychic connection, and can sense one another’s shortcomings, fears, and feelings.
Despite the deep animosity between Eleanor and Theodora, the two share an undeniable connection. Their fighting over their connection to Luke seems to be a sublimation of their greater, forbidden desire to be, possess, or love one another. As they wander from the group and get lost in the grounds of Hill House, their journey is one into both their own psychic interiors and the house’s supernatural heart.
Themes
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
As the two come upon a widening of the path, they are simultaneously gripped by cold and fear. Theodora clutches Eleanor’s hand as the landscape seems to glow around them, threatening to consume them. They walk slowly and deliberately, keeping to the path and wondering where it is taking them. The girls are positively lost when they arrive at a small garden and see, in spite of the dark of night, a sudden flash of sunlight and rich color. They hear children’s laughter and glimpse signs of a picnic. Theodora looks over her shoulder and screams, then urges Eleanor to run and to not look back.
The house, which has been so focused on Eleanor, now seems to communicate directly with Theodora, producing an illusion only she can see—something that terrifies her to the bone.
Themes
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
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Eleanor and Theodora run, holding hands all the way, and finally find themselves back at the house. They crash through a back door into the kitchen, where Luke and Montague are waiting for them. The doctor says he and Luke have been searching for Theodora for hours. Eleanor collapses into a chair, babbling about the picnic they saw. Theodora begins to describe what she saw when she looked over her shoulder, but cannot finish her sentence.
Theodora and Eleanor have experienced something harrowing together—something which highlights the pettiness of their earlier arguments, and shows how the house is alternately attempting to bring them together and tear them apart as if toying with them.
Themes
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon