The Shack

by

William P. Young

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Shack can help.
Willie is an old friend of Mack’s. He serves as a narrator for the prologue and epilogue of the book, and is possibly a stand in for the novel’s real author, William Paul Young. He frames The Shack by writing that he is relating the story of the weekend as told to him by Mack. Willie also enables the events in the story by lending Mack his truck so that Mack can go to the shack for the weekend.

Willie Quotes in The Shack

The The Shack quotes below are all either spoken by Willie or refer to Willie. 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:
Independence from God Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Windblown Media edition of The Shack published in 2007.
Foreword Quotes

For almost two days, tied to the big oak at the back of the house, he was beaten with a belt and Bible verses every time his dad woke from a stupor and put down the bottle.

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Mack’s Father
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Shortly after the summer that Missy vanished, The Great Sadness had draped itself around Mack’s shoulders like some invisible but almost tangibly heavy quilt. The weight of its presence dulled his eyes and stooped his shoulders. Even his efforts to shake it off were exhausting, as if his arms were sewn into its bleak folds of despair and he had somehow become part of it.

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Page Number: 26-27
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

As he walked between tents and trailers, he was praying and promising. He knew in his heart that promising things to God was rather dumb and irrational, but he couldn’t help it. He was desperate to get Missy back, and surely God knew where she was.

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Missy
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Turning his eyes heavenward, he began screaming his anguished questions. “Why? Why did you let this happen? Why did you bring me here? Of all places to meet you—why here? Wasn’t it enough to kill my baby? Do you have to toy with me too?”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Willie (speaker), Missy
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

So this was God in relationship? It was beautiful and so appealing. He knew that it didn’t matter whose fault it was—the mess from some bowl that had been broken, that a planned dish would not be shared. Obviously, what was truly important here was the love they had for one another and the fullness it brought them. He shook his head. How different this was from the way he sometimes treated the ones he loved!

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia, Sarayu, Jesus
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

He let out a deep, heavy sigh. And if God was really here, why hadn’t he taken his nightmares away?

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Missy
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Mack was amused. “Willie,” he whispered, “it’s not a secret. God is everywhere. So, I was at the shack.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Jesus, Willie
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Shack LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Shack PDF

Willie Character Timeline in The Shack

The timeline below shows where the character Willie appears in The Shack. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Foreword
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Willie, the narrator, believes anyone would be skeptical upon hearing that someone spent a weekend with... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Since then, Mack, who is about to turn fifty-six, has settled down, raising five kids with his wife... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Ever since a hospital stay a few years ago, Mack has seemed particularly kind and at peace. His relationship with God has “gone deep,” though... (full context)
Chapter 1: A Confluence of Paths
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
On a cold March day, Mack is working from his home office as icy rain builds up a slippery layer outside.... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Knocking ice from the mailbox, Mack finds only a single envelope inside. It is unstamped and contains a simple message. The... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As he is making his way back from the mailbox, Mack slips on an icy patch of driveway. He falls backwards and skids along the ice,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Unable to forget about the note, Mack calls the post office and finds out, to his surprise, that the mail has not... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Gathering Dark
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The next day, the storm has thawed and Mack’s family returns. He thinks that the storm served as a welcome, but brief, distraction from... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The narrator shares the story of Missy’s disappearance. The story of Missy’s disappearance began when Mack takes Missy, his youngest daughter, and her older siblings Kate and Josh camping. Excitement grips... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
On the way, the family stops at Multnomah Falls and Missy asks Mack to tell her favorite story, about a princess of the Multnomah Native American tribe. In... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
That night, the family sets up camp and enjoys dinner and stargazing together. Mack prays with Josh and goes to do the same with Kate and Missy, but instead... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Just as Mack thinks his daughters have fallen asleep, Missy asks if God will ever ask her to... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Tipping Point
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Over the next few days on their camping trip, Mack and his family make friends with two other families—the Ducettes, who have two young girls... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...kids are off playing and the Ducette parents have gone to bed, the Madisons ask Mack about Nan. He tells them about his beautiful wife and her work with terminal cancer... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The next morning, Mack and the kids begin cleaning up the campsite. Frustrated by several mishaps, Mack finds himself... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Josh and Kate try to wave at Mack from the canoe, but they flip it over in the process. Kate emerges quickly, but... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Great Sadness
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
As Mack catches his breath, he suddenly remembers Missy had been up at the campsite coloring. But... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As the search spreads out to the whole camp grounds, one camper tells Mack that he saw a little girl in a red dress in the back of a... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Officers ask Mack to look back over the campsite to see if he notices anything amiss. He sees... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...meaningless and gray. The next day, Nan and the kids prepare to head home, while Mack prepares to stay close by with investigators. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...who had identified the ladybug pin over the phone, arrive at the site. Sam and Mack take a liking to one another. Sam questions Mack about the past few days, asking... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...the innocence of children and the horror of crimes against them. Setting out with Tommy, Mack prays to God to keep Missy safe. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Over the next few hours, Mack joins the FBI officers as they canvass the woods near where the truck had been... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...return to some semblance of normalcy, especially Kate, who has retreated behind a wall, and Mack, who blames himself for the tragedy. Missy’s body has never been recovered, but she is... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Now, Mack reflects on the note in the mailbox. It feels like a cruel joke that God... (full context)
Chapter 5: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Unsure if the note is from God, a prankster, or even Missy’s killer, Mack nonetheless finds that he can’t stop thinking about it and decides to make plans to... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack asks his friend Willie if he can borrow Willie’s Jeep for the journey into the... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack says that despite himself, he feels like the missive really could be from God. That’s... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Willie reluctantly lets Mack leave with the Jeep, but not before convincing him to take a... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Mack retraces the drive from a few years before, trying not to think of the previous... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack parks at the trailhead, about a mile from the shack itself. Panic overwhelms him, but... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack enters the shack, which seems to be empty save for some old furniture. His eyes... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
As The Great Sadness descends, Mack considers suicide, thinking that it would be a release from the pain and a final... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
As Mack starts to walk away from the cabin, the snowy winter forest around him begins to... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...can knock, the door is swept open by a large African American woman who sweeps Mack into a hug. She tells him excitedly that she’s delighted to see him and that... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Suddenly, a small Asian woman emerges and sweeps Mack’s tears into a small glass bottle. She gives him a sense of overwhelming warmth, but... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack finds himself confused but also enchanted by the three strangers. The first introduces herself as... (full context)
Chapter 6: A Piece of [Pi]
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Elousia turns to go inside, telling Mack he can follow or do whatever else he likes. Mack stays outside with Jesus for... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...The blood stain by the fireplace is gone, and everything is decorated with children’s artwork. Mack finds Papa in the kitchen dancing to funk music. Mack expresses surprise that she isn’t... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack says he’s having a hard time wrapping his head around calling the woman Papa, and... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack returns to his first point, saying it’s hard to call her Papa because she appears... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Papa says she knew Mack would come to the shack, and Mack asks if that means he had no choice... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
As she speaks, Mack sees that Papa has scars on her wrists, outlining pierce wounds. She says that what... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...grounded is just a limitation within that ability. She says the same is true of Mack living unloved—it is just a limitation within his ability to be loved. Pain has metaphorically... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...retained her unlimited abilities and existence. Jesus is both fully God and fully human. When Mack asks if flight and miracles performed by Jesus are evidence that Jesus was more than... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack says that he’s confused and asks again why there are three people in the cabin... (full context)
Chapter 7: God on the Dock
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack is called back to the kitchen by a loud crashing sound. Jesus has dropped a... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The three and Mack sit down to a delicious dinner. Mack starts to say grace, but then awkwardly looks... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...she would like to have a time of devotion after the meal. The suggestion startles Mack because it makes him think of formulaic bible recitations from his childhood. Instead, he watches... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Jesus invites Mack outside to look at the stars. They lie down under the brilliant night sky. Mack... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack admits that he thought Jesus would be better-looking. Jesus says he is Jewish and asks... (full context)
Chapter 8: A Breakfast of Champions
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
That night, Mack has a flying dream for the first time in years, since The Great Sadness overtook... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack is drawn to the kitchen by the smell of breakfast and the sound of Papa... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...Jesus, Sarayu, and Papa, enter into an intense conversation about reconciling an estranged family while Mack listens with awe. He finds the way the listen and react to each other to... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
They ask Mack to step outside that mindset of hierarchy in order to trust God. Mack asks how... (full context)
Chapter 9: A Long Time Ago, in a Garden Far, Far Away
Independence from God Theme Icon
Mack follows Sarayu into a beautiful, seemingly disordered garden. She says that the garden follows a... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
As they clear the roots from the patch of ground, Mack asks if there really was a Garden of Eden, and Sarayu says there was. Mack... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Sarayu returns to the issue of good and evil, asking Mack how he discerns between right and wrong. Reflecting, he says that he believes things that... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack is inspired, but also says it will be difficult to accept that certain things—like cancer... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...then, Papa approaches and compliments their work. Sarayu says that the garden itself is actually Mack’s soul, beautiful, wild, and still in process. He is overwhelmed with emotion. Handing Mack a... (full context)
Chapter 10: Wade in the Water
Independence from God Theme Icon
Jesus takes Mack over to the lake and walks to the end of the dock, bidding Mack to... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
With Jesus’s encouragement, Mack steps off the dock, and the two walk easily across the surface of the lake.... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As they eat their lunch, Mack asks why Jesus wouldn’t take back the earth if humans are destroying it. But Jesus... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...protection led men to have power over women. Preserving this hierarchy is unhealthy. Jesus tells Mack to head off on a path by the waterfall, where someone is waiting for him. (full context)
Chapter 11: Here Come Da Judge
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack comes to a rock face, but finds that, miraculously, he is able to walk through... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The olive-skinned woman says she is there to help Mack on this serious day and that Mack is there because of his children, which confuses... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
When the olive-skinned woman says that Mack loves his children the way the Father loves his, Mack bristles, saying that if Missy... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The olive-skinned woman tells Mack he is there to judge God and the human race. She says he must feel... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
At that, Mack’s anger breaks through, and he says Missy’s killer should be damned to hell. The olive-skinned... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The olive-skinned woman tells Mack that if he thinks he has the ability to judge God, he certainly has the... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Relieved, Mack sits back in the chair. But Mack says he still doesn’t understand how Papa could... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Suddenly, Mack hears children’s laughter. One wall of the cavern becomes transparent, though still impassable. Through it,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Mack says he still feels like it’s his fault that Missy was taken, but the olive-skinned... (full context)
Chapter 12: In the Belly of the Beasts
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
As Mack makes his way to the lake, he realizes that The Great Sadness is no longer... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack says he can’t stop thinking about Missy alone and terrified in the truck. Jesus stops... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Mack begins to walk into the lake without hesitation, trusting that he will be able to... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
When they reach the dock on the opposite shore, Mack asks if he was seeing Missy in heaven, even though it didn’t resemble the pearly... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack feels much of the conversation going over his head, but he wants to try to... (full context)
Chapter 13: A Meeting of Hearts
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack joins Papa on the porch and begins to enjoy some fresh-baked scones she’s made. Papa... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Mack says he feels lighter with the knowledge that Missy didn’t die for his sake, as... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack says that he lied to Nan about coming to the shack because he didn’t want... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Realizing she’s referring to Jesus, Mack asks what Jesus accomplished by dying. Papa says that Jesus’s death and resurrection allowed Papa... (full context)
Chapter 14: Verbs and Other Freedoms
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack decides to take a canoe out on the lake. Feeling better than he has in... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Mack says that Papa has helped him realize he’s afraid of emotions, something that concerns him.... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack says that living in this way feels more complicated than simply following the rules in... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack joins Sarayu, Jesus, and Papa at the table, where they openly talk and laugh with... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack asks what the three of them expect of him now that they have given him... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...rules, which remove freedom and create guilt and shame instead. Papa has no expectations for Mack, but simply knows him. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...to the idea of hierarchy, saying they don’t want to be a first priority in Mack’s life, but rather at the center of everything. As they begin clearing the table, Sarayu... (full context)
Chapter 15: A Festival of Friends
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
When Mack opens his eyes, he is outside, perched on a small hill overlooking a clearing. The... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Sarayu says that the man having difficulty is Mack’s father. Overwhelmed with a mix of emotions, Mack runs towards his father as the light... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Still crying, Mack returns to Sarayu as Jesus emerges from the darkness, dressed in a white garment and... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Morning of Sorrows
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack is shaken awake just before dawn by a kindly looking man with a silver ponytail.... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Sarayu gives Mack a tightly rolled pack, filled with aromatic flowers and herbs that Mack and Sarayu picked... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Papa and Mack begin to walk down the trailhead. Then, Papa starts leading them on an unofficial path... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Papa and Mack arrive at a rocky shale clearing. Papa says that, before he shows Mack their destination,... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Mack goes to walk back to the cabin, but Papa says they still have more to... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Papa and Mack follow the trail to a pile of rocks blocking off a cave. Together, they clear... (full context)
Chapter 17: Choices of The Heart
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Jesus meets Papa and Mack when they arrive back at the cabin. He takes Mack into his work shed, where... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Sarayu leads them outside to the space in the garden that Mack helped her clear the day before. There is a hole there and they lower the... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...there is a glass of wine and a loaf of fresh bread. Papa says that Mack has a choice. He can either remain with them and continue to grow and learn,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Sarayu says she has one more gift for Mack. She tells him that Kate believes she is to blame for Missy’s death. Suddenly, it... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack and the three enjoy the bread and wine and then Mack begins preparing to go... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Mack begins the uneventful drive home, thinking about Nan. He feels at peace and strangely exhilarated.... (full context)
Chapter 18: Outbound Ripples
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Over the next couple of days, Mack drifts painfully in and out of consciousness as his family and doctors attend to him.... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
When Nan returns, Mack is fully conscious and smiling. She says he was in an accident on Friday night,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Nan agrees to find a time for Mack and her to talk to Kate alone, on Mack’s request. Holding Kate’s hand from his... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
After about a month of healing, Mack and Nan call officer Tommy Dalton to set up a hike near the shack. Although... (full context)
After Words
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Mack’s friend Willie once against returns as narrator. Willie says that now, The Great Sadness has... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Willie says that Mack is hoping for a revolution of love and kindness revolving around Jesus... (full context)