sttartton essay

Submitted By babyc_1130
Words: 2069
Pages: 9

THE SHINING, first published in 1977. Jack Torrance is a man terrorized by demons. He loves his wife, and his son Danny, but Jack is the product of an abusive father, and has a tendency to lash out when angry (and drunk)–even at those he loves. His violent outbursts cost him his teaching job, and almost cost him his marriage. He takes a job at The Overlook, a hotel set high in the Colorado mountains, as a caretaker during the winter months while the hotel is closed, hoping the time of seclusion will act as a healthy retreat for him and his family to reconnect and rebuild. But The Overlook is a hotel with a violent history, as Jack begins to discover. Like Jack, The Overlook is also terrorized by demons–but these are the kind that take physical form and can do physical harm. And these demons are particularly interested in Danny. Danny has a gift he calls “the shining”–an extrasensory gift that enables him to read people’s thoughts, communicate telepathically to others with the gift, and see the future. The shining is particularly strong with Danny, and the hotel would love to feed off of that power. But to do that, Danny needs to die. Cut off from the rest of the world by deep snow and dangerous mountain roads, the hotel turns against the family, eventually using Jack’s emotional weakness to possess him so it can get to his son.
King’s depiction of the main characters is largely believable. Jack is a loving father, but clearly has issues. His wife, Wendy, is long-suffering, but deep-down loves her husband and wants their marriage to work. Danny is a precocious but loving son, tormented by his gift. King uses parenthetical comments interjected into the narrative to show passing thoughts that help us get a sense of the conflict inside his characters’ heads–whether it’s Jack being torn between his love for his family and his anger at, as he perceives it, their mistrust of him (feelings which the hotel will play on later), or his wife’s struggle between wanting to believe her husband, and knowing his past. There is a lot of set-up to the story, with backstory interjected throughout, but I didn’t feel it was extraneous. In fact, it helps us in the latter part of the novel to see Jack not as simply a wild-eyed homicidal maniac, but as a victim of a greater power exploiting him for its own ends. Even in the depth of his insanity, you feel a twinge of sympathy for him–at least I did. Also, within that set-up, we are introduced to key plot points that will be important later.
I find King’s descriptions of settings, whether it’s the hotel corridors, the rooms, the boiler room, or the gardens, to be sufficient for me to picture them. It’s frustrating to me when I read a novel and I have to go back and re-read sections because I’m trying to picture a scene and it’s not coming together in my head. He uses sufficient information, and doesn’t overburden the writing with endless world-building that is not relevant to the story. In the novel, the story of Jack Torrance, who is employed as the caretaker of the gargantuan Overlook Hotel in Colorado one winter. Moving his wife, Wendy, and their son, Danny, into it for the season, he hopes to find peace: to finish his writing project, to escape his latent alcoholism, and to stich his fractured family unit together. But when they're alone, Jack appears to go insane, pushed into fantasy – or hallucination. Eventually, he attacks his family, attempting to kill them in a twisted mirroring of the awful events that, it transpires, occurred in the hotel's past. This is the story of both King's 1977 novel and “Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation” three years later, but they're vastly distinctive beasts. For the King fan, however, it's hard to think of one without the other. The Shining is two stories, both the same, but somehow very different. Even better for Kubrick, who was always playing games with the viewer, the first-time viewerwill probably interpret Lloyd and Grady as ghosts,…