shining coverIn late September of 1974, author Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, spent a night at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s a hotel built in 1907 with a reputation of being haunted. Since the hotel was going to close the following day for the winter, King and his wife were the only guests, staying in Room 217. King thought that the grand, empty hotel would make the perfect setting for a ghost story. During the night, he dreamed that a fire-hose chased his three-year-old son (Joe Hill, the novelist) down the hotel corridor. After the author of the bestselling Carrie and Salem’s Lot arose from bed in a cold sweat, he lit a cigarette and gazed out at the Rockies. By the time he had finished the smoke, he had the bare bones of what would be one of his greatest novels, The Shining, set in place.

For fans of the movie, here is its beat sheet so you can compare and contrast the story beats between the original novel and the film.

Based on the 1977 novel by Stephen King
Book genre: adult horror
Total pages: 447 (first edition hardback)

MITH Type: Supra-Natural Monster

MITH Cousins: The Haunting of Hill House, Burnt Offerings, Hell House, The Amityville Horror, Snowblind, Turn of the Screw, The Elementals, House, The Woman in Black, A Stir of Echoes, Ghost Story, The House Next Door, House of Leaves, The House of Seven Gables, The Shunned House, The Castle of Otranto, The House on the Borderland

Opening Image: Part One: Prefatory Matters, CHAPTER 1 (p. 1-10) Jack Torrance sits in the office of Stuart Ullman, manager of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Ullman is officious and condescending to Jack. Neither of the men likes one another. Jack is taking the position of the new caretaker of the Overlook for the winter, the season running from October to May. His responsibility is to maintain the old luxury hotel, opened in 1909, to make sure the elements can’t get a foothold.

Jack is originally from Vermont. He had a teaching job and was about to be tenured. However, when he had an incident with a student involving drinking and violence, he was let go. Jack is 14 months sober but struggling everyday with his addiction. His temper is also “like a vicious animal on a frayed leash.” Jack’s trying to hold it together. He needs this job at the Overlook, which his friend Al Shockley got for him. Ullman knows about Jack’s past and doesn’t think Jack can handle the isolation of running the Overlook. The manager wouldn’t have hired Jack if he had his say. He tells the story of Delbert Grady, a caretaker who had anger issues and was also a drinker. Grady snuck in all his own liquor. After suffering what the old timers call “cabin fever,” the result of being cooped up too long, Grady killed his family with an axe and then himself with a shotgun. This adds to the Overlook Hotel’s long history and checkered past.

Six things that need fixing: Jack needs this job. He needs to set things right with his wife, Wendy, and son, Danny, who wait for him back in Boulder. He needs to prove to himself he can do the right thing again, and he needs to prove to the world that he’s a great writer, and will use his time at the Overlook to finish what he is sure to be a smash Broadway play.

Set-Up: CHAPTERS 2-7 (p. 11-57) Wendy Torrance, Jack’s wife, and Danny Torrance, Jack’s son, age 5, wait for news from the Overlook. Wendy, who is watching Danny from the window of their dumpy apartment, goes outside to join her son. For his age, Danny is a perceptive boy. He asks his mom if his daddy was fired the same way that Jack had broken Danny’s arm (for spilling beer on all his school papers). Wendy tells Danny the truth that Jack was coaching the debate team at Stovington Prep. He cut a student, George Hatfield, and so the angry Hatfield slashed the tires of Jack’s VW bug. Jack caught Hatfield in the act and lost his temper in the confrontation. Hatfield fell and hit his head. Jack was promptly fired. Wendy is about at her wit’s end. If Jack cannot do the caretaker job, their future is in serious jeopardy.

Back at the Overlook, Jack learns about the boiler from Watson. Watson’s grandfather was the one who originally built the Overlook. The maintenance man is a cantankerous old man who has no love for the pretentious Ullman either. Jack learns more about the Overlook’s past as well as his most important job—heating different wings of the hotel each day and ensuring that the pressure doesn’t build up on the boiler. The boiler can stand only 250 pounds of pressure per square inch but Watson thinks it would blow long before that and that Jack would find himself and his family on the moon. The Overlook’s boiler is a rather apt metaphor for Jack’s rage with it building up a full head of steam, and then the pressure needing to be released before it’s too late. Watson also says probably 40 to 50 people have died at the Overlook, mostly older men with younger women having heart attacks. He assures Jack that there are no ghosts (yeah, right).

Danny waits for his father outside on the curb. He’s worried his dad will do the BAD THING again (drinking). Tony, the little boy who shows him things, shows Danny a big place with new shingles, a hand in a bathtub with blood dripping off it, a mirror with the words REDRUM reflected in it, and a shape smelling of blood and doom coming after him yelling, “Come out! Take your medicine!” Not everything Tony shows Danny turns out to be real, but it scares Danny just the same.

Catalyst: Part Two: Closing Day, CHAPTER 8 (p. 59-64) Jack, Wendy, and Danny head up to the Overlook in the red VW bug. As they retreat from civilization, Wendy worries that their bug will break down or go off the serpentine mountain roadway into the valley far below. She also wonders if the Donner Party had died here, resorting to cannibalism to survive. When Danny sees the Overlook, he knows it’s the place Tony warned him about. It was here, Danny thinks. It was here. Whatever Redrum was, it was here.

Theme Stated: In several instances up to this point, the theme solidifies itself as The Past Haunts You. This is made evident with Jack’s troubled past, Wendy’s past in dealing with an overbearing mother as well as Jack, and even the mention of the Donner Party and what snowbound isolation can cause people to do. Also, the Overlook Hotel has a notorious past that will come back to haunt the Torrance family with a vengeance.

Debate: CHAPTER 9 (p. 65-70) Manager Stuart Ullman meets the Torrances. He’s not kind to Jack or Wendy, but is accommodating to Danny. Ullman gives the family the tour of the hotel and grounds—like the pretentious roque court and looming topiary sculptures of lions, dogs, and rabbits. Danny has seen disturbing visions of all these things but he also knows not everything Tony shows him turns out to be true (of course, we know different).

B Story: CHAPTERS 10-11 (p. 71-89) The Torrance family meets head chef of the Overlook, Dick Hallorann, a tall man with a graying afro. Dick shows them around the kitchen and the Colorado Room. He tells Jack and Wendy that if they want to party, they’ll have to bring their own alcohol. Jack firmly states that he no longer drinks. Dick is getting ready to leave for the winter and head down to Florida where he works another cooking job. He asks if Danny can help him with his bags to the car. It’s really so he can talk to Danny. Danny has “the shine,” as Dick calls it, the same as him. Except Danny has the strongest power Dick’s ever seen. During a display, Danny sends Dick a message with his mind and rattles him. The affable old chef is worried about the boy. He knows the past of the Overlook and what lurks in Room 217. He warns the boy to stay out of Room 217.

Danny remembers the story Bluebeard that he once saw in a book. The Shining works like that—Halloran states—it can show you scary images, but they’re just that, like pictures in a book. They can’t harm you. Hallorann half joking asks Danny if he wants to come to Florida with him (so the boy will be safe). This exchange ties into the theme of The Past Haunting You. The Shining is a power that shows the past. Hallorann is the mentor character, and a Half Man of sorts, who has survived the Overlook and has lived to tell about it. But he plans to resign. As Hallorann is driving away, he glances back at the family. They’re gone. It’s as if, in an appropriate metaphor, the Overlook has swallowed them up.

Break into Two: CHAPTER 12-13 (p. 90-101) Ullman shows the Torrance family their living quarters and the rest of the hotel. When they enter the presidential suite, Danny sees blood and brains splattered on the wallpaper where someone was shot and killed. This is where we enter the upside-down world, the antithetical world, leaving the ordinary, thesis world behind. Something sinister lurks here. Danny uses Hallorann’s advice and looks away, hoping the image will vanish like a picture in a book. Except when the boy looks again, the blood looks fresh and oozing. The hotel manager rushes them past Room 217. Eventually, all the staff of the Overlook leaves and the Torrance family is on their own.

Fun and Games: Part Three: The Wasps’ Nest, CHAPTER 14-24 (p. 105-211) It’s nearly three weeks into his caretaking of the Overlook and Jack is feeling fine. The October sky is clear and bright and he’s re-shingling the roof. He’s gotten over his writer’s block and his play is practically writing itself. Jack thinks about his temper, about his abusive father, and about the incident with George Hatfield. It’s then he’s distracted and sticks his hand in a hornet’s nest. He’s stung and nearly falls 70 feet to his death. Angry, he’s going to bug bomb the hornets into oblivion. The hornets, to Jack, are everything that’s gone wrong in his life and he’s going to put and end to it.

Jack gives Danny the hornet’s nest. Wendy is reluctant. Jack says that it’s safe, all the wasps have been killed and that he had a dormant hornet’s nest in his room when he was a kid. That night, Danny has visions of roque mallets and REDRUM. He falls into a trance and this worries Wendy. She’s going to take him down to the doctor in Sidewinder, which is 40 miles away. Danny later asks his dad if he would hurt him or his mother. Jack assures him that he won’t. As Danny is sleeping, he’s having more disturbing visions of the Overlook when he’s stung on the hand. The wasps, unlike Jack had thought, were not dead. As Wendy tends to Danny, Jack covers the nest in glass and takes it outside so the remaining wasps will freeze.

The doctor dismisses Danny’s visions as a kind of autohypnosis and gives him a clean bill of health. Down in the boiler room, Jack discovers a scrapbook among boxes of moldering newspapers. In the scrapbook, which was meticulously kept by someone, articles of the “jet set” that used to occupy the Overlook, as well as its troubled past, including shady financial dealings, mysterious deaths ruled suicides, and underworld king pins. Jack finds an article from 1966 of a triple homicide by shotgun in the presidential suite (the blood that Danny saw earlier). The Overlook’s history becomes an obsession. When Wendy comes downstairs, he tries to hide the scrapbook, just like back in his drinking days. He can tell that Wendy suspects him of tipping the bottle again.

Danny stands outside Room 217, curious to go in, though he doesn’t know why or how he even got there. He has a passkey in his pocket. Fear keeps him from opening the door and he runs away. As he does, a fire hose, which looks like a giant serpent, falls off the wall and starts chasing him, hissing. However, when he looks again, the fire hose is where it always was.

Down at the Sidewinder library, Jack does some more research on the Overlook. He’s obsessed and wants to write a tell-all book on its history. He calls Ullman in Florida and berates him for not telling him about the Overlook’s checkered past. When he comes to his senses, he realized that he might have just gotten himself fired. He might have just blown it for having a future for himself, as well as Danny and Wendy.
Later, Al Shockley, the man who got Jack the job, a friend from the past, demands that Jack never write the book or speak with Ullman again and he can have his job back. Jack reluctantly agrees, but he’s angry. He’s filled with a rage he’s not had since his drinking days, chewing Excedrin like they were candy as he’s getting headaches. Wendy wants to leave with Danny and go back to town, then meet up with Jack in the spring. Danny, using his power, says his daddy isn’t drinking, even though it seems like he is.

In a promise of the premise moment (which is also featured on the first edition’s book cover), Jack is out trimming the topiary animals before the big snow is about to hit. As he’s doing this, he hears the rustling of leaves. The leafy lions have moved from their spots. The dog and the rabbit have changed their positions and seem to watch him—they’re all in attack mode. Like Danny does with his power, Jack closes his eyes and then opens them, looking again. All the topiary sculptures have resumed their original positions. He doesn’t tell Wendy and Danny about it. Soon after, the heavy snows fall and the family is snowbound.

Midpoint: CHAPTER 25 (p. 212-218) Danny slides the key into the lock of Room 217. Curiosity is eating away at him. Everything he’s seen at the Overlook so far has only been images—nothing has hurt him. What could hurt him in here? After all, everything that Dick Hallorann had told him he might see isn’t real as A and B stories cross. When Danny enters the room, he’s disappointed—it’s just an empty hotel room. When he ventures into the bathroom, however, he pulls back the shower curtain and discovers the bloated corpse of a woman in the bathtub. The corpse grins at him. And as Danny tries to get away and to imagine that what he’s seeing isn’t real, the fish-smelling hands close around this throat. This is a false defeat that not only raises the stakes but also starts the clock ticking.

Bad Guys Close In: Part Four: Snowbound, CHAPTERS 26-37 (pg. 219-306) Jack dreams about his abusive father who once struck his mother in the head with a cane. Startled from hearing his father’s voice, Jack awakens and smashes the radio. This raises the stakes, as the radio is the only way they have contact with the outside world now that snow has knocked down the phone lines and the roads are buried.

Danny shows up with bruises around his neck and in a catatonic state. Wendy blames Jack as he’s been falling into his old “drinking behavior” again—waking up crabby, chewing Excedrin, spending long hours away from them in the basement rummaging through old papers. As they shut him out of the living quarters, an angry Jack storms off to the Colorado Lounge. He wishes he could drink right now. Wishes he could show Wendy just what a mean drunk is. He has some imaginary “Martians” (martinis) poured by the imaginary bartender Lloyd despite the jeers and whispers from the lounge’s imaginary guests. Often in Bad Guys Close In, the “group” cohesion starts to dissolve. And right on schedule, the family unit is breaking down. Jack is also at his darkest here and waning fast.

Wendy brings Danny to the lounge. Danny is able to speak, saying “It was her.” A woman in Room 217 attacked him. After Jack calms his son down (something Wendy is envious of her husband being able to do easily), Jack checks out Room 217. He doesn’t find anything at first, but as he’s leaving, he is pretty sure he hears a fleshy, purple corpse trying to get at him from the other side of the room’s door, which he quickly locks. He tells Wendy he found nothing. His wife and Danny are relieved and he wants a drink more than ever.

Wendy wants to take Danny away from the Overlook. Jack doesn’t want to go—they might never make it the 40 miles on a snowmobile or by snowshoeing. And what will he tell Al Shockley when he abandons his post? What will he do for work in the middle of winter? The Overlook was his last chance at redemption and it’s slipping away from him. The stakes are raising as Jack is reaching a breaking point. Jack then sabotages their last means of escape by throwing a vital part of the snowmobile’s engine out into the snow.

It’s several days later and Danny is on the mend. His bruises are fading. Jack tells Wendy that the forest rangers will likely be around when they’ve found they’ve lost radio contact with the Overlook. Danny goes outside to practice his snowshoeing. As he does, the topiary animals start shaking off the snow that they’re buried under and then chase him. He barely makes it back inside the hotel before they almost overtake him. Danny tells his parents what happened. Jack slaps his son and Wendy calls Jack a bastard. Jack doesn’t know why he was violent to his son. Danny has more disturbing visions of somebody chasing him with a roque mallet and calls out for Dick Hallorann with his psychic abilities.

All Is Lost: Part Five: Matters of Life and Death, CHAPTERS 38-46 (pg. 309-375) Down in Florida, Dick Hallorann receives Danny’s desperate message. It’s so powerful, and it happens while he’s driving, nearly causing an accident. Dick lies to his employer to get some days off (the real reason would sound insane). He makes plans to head back to Colorado. He calls the forest rangers and tells them the family at the Overlook is in danger. The rangers don’t know how he would know that. They have their hands full with other park-related incidents and can’t check. Dick keeps receiving messages from Danny. He boards a plane to Stapleton airport. He’s Danny’s only hope now.

Danny tells Wendy that the hotel wants all of them and that it’s playing Jack for a fool to do its bidding. The boy says the hotel will make Jack try to hurt them. Wendy arms herself with a knife from the kitchen. Snowbound and with a possible madman as their husband and father, Wendy and Danny are worse off now than at the beginning.

Jack’s been so absorbed in himself he’s forgotten the boiler in the basement. He runs downstairs and it’s at critical mass. He’s able to let off the steam, however, and prevents the Overlook from erupting. Later, he’s craving a drink more than ever before and returns to the Colorado Lounge. He orders a martini from Lloyd. The bartender says all the drinks are on the house and that the manager is interested in Danny. Jack reluctantly agrees, and then drinks all he can at the cheering of the fellow loungers. Jack later runs into Delbert Grady, the caretaker who killed his family. Grady says that Jack has “always been the caretaker” and that the same manager hired him and Jack—not Ullman, but the real hotel manager. Grady also tells Jack that Dick Hallorann has been notified and is on his way here. He also says that he “corrected” his family for their actions, a euphemism for murder. Jack says he will get Wendy and Danny under control. Later, Lloyd, Grady, and the guests vanish but Jack finds himself feeling drunk.

Hallorann arrives at the Stapleton airport, rents a car, and makes his way slowly along icy roads to Sidewinder.

Dark Night of the Soul: CHAPTERS 47-48 (pg. 376-382) Wendy goes to check on Jack, as he’s awfully quiet. She finds him passed out behind the bar in the Colorado Lounge. She smells gin but there’s not a bottle in sight. Jack awakens and attacks Wendy. He says that she never really loved him and that she and Danny were plotting against him. Wendy manages to grab a bottle used as a candlestick holder to smash Jack in the head. She and Danny drag his unconscious form into the food pantry and lock the door. The whiff of death permeates, as Jack has become a murderous threat. Wendy has a moment of clarity: Jack is lost to her. She now must protect Danny from him.

Delbert Grady comes to the pantry door and is disappointed that Jack couldn’t handle the situation with his wife and son. Grady wants Jack’s promise that he’ll kill Wendy and turn Danny over to the “manager” of the Overlook Hotel. The door opens and Jack is free. He finds a martini glass, a fifth of gin, a dish of olives, and a roque mallet waiting for him on the other side of the door. He tests out the roque mallet violently. And smiles.

Break into Three: CHAPTER 49 (pg. 283-390) Dick Halloran drives toward Sidewinder, nearly losing his life several times. He receives a terrible psychic message from the Overlook Hotel that warns him to stay away. He nearly collides with a snowplow. A and B stories cross as Dick, who warned Danny about the Overlook and is coming to save the boy, is now at the mercy of its evil as well. The snowplow driver sympathizes and tells Dick to rent a snowmobile from his friend, Larry Durkin, in town.

Finale: CHAPTERS 50-57 (pg. 391-441)
1. Gathering the Team: Wendy takes her knife and goes to check on Jack in the pantry. He’s been awfully quiet. As she does, the ghostly hotel guests scream “Unmask!” as it is the stroke of midnight. She discovers Jack is now free. He strikes her in the stomach with the roque mallet and later, the ribs, breaking at least two. She plunges her knife into Jack’s lower back up to the handle. It stops him briefly, but he comes after her. She crawls up the stairs to save Danny. Dick Hallorann arrives at the Overlook. The guardian of the gate, a topiary lion, attacks Dick on the snowmobile and tries to kill him.

2. Executing the Plan: Jack strikes Wendy once more, this time between the shoulder blades. She fights passing out and manages to get back to the servants’ quarters where Danny stays. She locks Jack out. She can’t find Danny. Hopefully he’s safe. Jack breaks through the door and she locks herself in the bathroom. He starts to smash in the door with the mallet and then tries to open the lock. She slashes his hand with a razor blade. Then Jack leaves. It seems that help is on the way. Wendy needs to find Danny before Jack does but the pain is almost too much.

3. High Tower Surprise: Dick manages to set the hedge line ablaze with some gasoline and a lighter. He gets back on the snowmobile and makes it to the Overlook. He calls out for Danny. Jack takes Hallorann by surprise, striking him in the face and head with the mallet.

4. Dig, Deep Down: Danny hears Jack coming after him. He runs down the corridors, seeing images like a rotting woman with live wasps on her face gesturing for him to come inside the Presidential Suite. Danny is trapped on the third floor, unless he can get to the attic and hide. He’s in trouble. It’s locked. Now he’s cornered and his father is coming down the hallway like a subhuman thing, slamming the mallet against the walls, just like in his earlier visions. Jack corners Danny. Danny tells the Jack-thing that he’s not his father. The last fragment of his father, the last humanity of Jack, drops the mallet and tells Danny to run. The figure then picks up the mallet and smashes its own face in, destroying what was left of Jack Torrance. Now, the body is simply an instrument of evil to do the hotel’s bidding. No more interference from Jack. Danny tells him that he forgot to check the boiler. The Jack-Thing must go let off the steam before it blows up. Danny has a stay of execution.

5. The Execution of New Plan: Danny uses his power to warn Dick that the Overlook is about to blow up. This awakens Dick enough. Rejoined with Wendy and Danny, he hurries them out of the haunted hotel. Down in the boiler room, the Jack-thing lets off the steam too quickly—the Overlook explodes into the wintry night.

Dick pulls the snowmobile up to an equipment shed to find blankets for Danny and Wendy. They’ll freeze to death going down the mountain. The Overlook, in a last desperate grasp, tries to turn Dick against the mother and son. There’s even a roque mallet close by to finish the job. Having a strong will, Dick drops the mallet, ignores the demanding voices, and takes the blankets to Danny and Wendy. Soon, they are down the mountain, warm and safe, and the long darkness is over.

Final Image: Epilogue/Summer (pg. 442-447) Hallorann is working at a lodge in Maine. It’s the height of summer. Wendy sits on the porch, looking older, a back brace making her sit straight up. She says that she’s having fewer nightmares of the Overlook and that she’s taking a job that Al Shockley got her in Maryland. Jack had enough life insurance money to pay for Danny’s college. Danny is fishing off the dock when Dick talks to him. He can tell the boy is having a hard time, but he will always help the boy. He’s the father figure that Danny has always needed. Danny hooks a rainbow trout as Wendy joins them on the dock. They’re a family again, happier, and away from evil.