Landscape of Fear: Stephen King's American Gothic

By Tony Magistrale | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Conclusions and Clowns:
It as Summary
and Recapitulation

Stephen King's largest and one of his most ambitious novels to date embodies many of the core themes and issues that I have raised in preceding chapters of this book. A tale of monsters and threatened children, It is also a story of endurance and loyalty. And once again, as we have traced throughout King's fictional canon, the central conflict in this novel is between American adult society and the children who are neither understood nor appreciated. The five adults who survive their quest to do battle against It manage to do so because all of them are, in a manner of speaking, still children maintaining the mutual bond of love that has united them against adversity—both human and supernatural—since the time of their shared adolescence.

We have seen that the evolving patterns of evil in King's fiction most often manifest themselves in supernatural phenomena which are the consequence of human lapses in moral judgment. In tales such as "Children of the Corn," The Shining, and 'Salem's Lot, maleficence is defined in terms of the "accumulated sum" of its parts: so many moments of human depravity occur in one locale over an extended period of time that evil becomes a living organism sustaining itself on historical and renewable incidents of human cruelty and violent behavior.

In the Smoke-Hole Ceremony, two members of the Losers' Club, Mike and Richie, go back to the origins of the earth in order to witness the conception of evil, the latter coinciding with the arrival of It in the center of Derry, Maine: " 'It landed right where the downtown part of Derry is now.... It's always been here, since the beginning of time... sleeping, maybe, waiting for the ice to melt, waiting for the people to come' " (763). Mike highlights the importance of It's relationship to the mortal world;

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