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Month 3: Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long

Anna and I are co-hosting the Stephen King IT Read-a-Long.  We are having discussions once per month through the end of the year about the parts we’ve read.

For the first discussion of part 1, plus the following interlude, go here.

For part 2′s discussion, please visit Diary of an Eccentric.

Today is a discussion of Part 3:  Grownups and Derry:  The Third Interlude.

Following Part Two in which King revealed the individual encounters with IT and that IT had been around a lot longer than the kids suspected, Part Three picks up back in Derry when the kids meet again as grown-ups because IT has started once again. Here are the questions that came to my mind while reading this section:

1. Like most towns, Derry has changed with more developments and banks, but to the “gang” some things remain the same? Do you think they are trapped by nostalgia or something more frightening?

2. The canal plays a prominent role, and as it runs through, around, and beneath the town it collects all of the waste and darkness from its sewers. What are your theories about the canal and its role in Pennywise’s cycles and mayhem?

3. The “gang” seems to have come together to work against the clown, and whatever they did is lost to their memories as they revisit sights that meant something to them in childhood. Chüd, silver dollars, and other items are mentioned. Was Mike’s suggestion that they spend time alone in Derry aimed at jogging their memories of what happened or was there another purpose?

4. Do you agree or disagree with Mike’s theory that after the “gang” stopped the killing cycle, something changed that allowed them to be more successful away from Derry than if they stayed? Why or why not?

There are a few other questions that really don’t have answers at this point that I continue to ponder, such as what is Chud, what is this turtle, and how does IT know what these adults will fear most? Are their fears easier to gauge because of the connection they now have with IT since they put a stop to the previous cycle of murders? Or are these adults more connected to their childhoods than other adults may be — especially given some of their more creative jobs; doesn’t that require them to remain a bit in touch with their child-like selves?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll be sure to discuss with everyone. Thanks for joining in!

If you decide to do your own blog post, please leave the full link to that post in the Mr. Linky below:

For discussion of Part 4 and its following interlude, please stop by Diary of an Eccentric on Nov. 30.

  • I really think King has done well showing us certain things and keeping others secret. It builds the mystery and the tension….for what happened in the past and what is about to happen again…the narrative really picks up in this section. Each moment is like a scene from a movie…just picture the Chinese restaurant scene on the movie screen!

    • On one hand I’m looking forward to watching the movie with you when we’ve finished reading, but on the other…it’s bad enough picturing Pennywise in my head, I don’t want to have to see him for real!!

  • Bookworm

    Serena that’s an interesting River Styx comparison. I do think he is some sort of demon. And the canal represents Hell.

    Anna, I agree. I don’t think Mike could have left even if he wanted to. I think he’s destined to stay in Derry and call the others to come back.
    And notice how the gang are all rich, except Mike. Plus they are all childless. Even Richies vasectomy reversed itself however. I wonder why?
    And I think the stand against IT will be tougher as adults, they might just go insane. Pennywise really messes with their heads. How nasty was the fortune cookie scene?

    • Yeah the vasectomy reversal was an interesting tidbit, which I’m sure as a 10-year-old girl I had no idea what it meant. I do wonder why that is, and I’m not sure there was an answer provided in latter chapters, but I could be wrong…though maybe it was simply to have him call his ex-fiance and ask if she was pregnant with his kid and since she wasn’t, it made Richie just like the others in their childlessness.

      That fortune cookie scene is one reason I didn’t want to eat Chinese for a long while as a kid, but I never would have told my parents that.

    • I hope the childlessness and wealth connections are revealed in the end. The fortune cookie scene was pretty gross, especially Bev’s cookie.’

      I hate clowns to begin with but I think Pennywise really freaked me out in the library, in the park with Richie and Paul Bunyan (hello?!? a 23-foot clown!! NO THANK YOU!!), and when he’s mentioned being at the Bradley gang’s execution. So creepy!!

      • Bookworm

        Anna, yes the Paul Bunyan scene was weird. The ax! Richies impersonations are definitely getting on my nerves though.
        What about Bev in her old house with the old lady? That was creepy when she realized what was going on.

        I’m going to watch the movie after I’m done reading the book. I do want to see the fortune cookie scene. I’m curious to see how well it all translates on screen. I have seen bits and peices of it in the past, but never really paid it any mind.
        Bookworm´s last blog post ..Month 3: Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long

        • That old lady with Bev was creepy in other ways. And I don’t remember the fortune cookie scene from the movie, but it has been ages since I’ve seen it.

  • 1. Like most towns, Derry has changed with more developments and banks, but to the “gang” some things remain the same? Do you think they are trapped by nostalgia or something more frightening?

    I think the gang is obviously trapped by what happened in 1958, especially if they can’t remember all the details of what went down that August. There’s something creepy going on in this town, with the canal, the people, everything.

    2. The canal plays a prominent role, and as it runs through, around, and beneath the town it collects all of the waste and darkness from its sewers. What are your theories about the canal and its role in Pennywise’s cycles and mayhem?

    There’s something in the water! Seriously, though, there is something evil in the canal, but it’s uncertain how Pennywise came to be and why he is there in the first place. Sometimes evil doesn’t need a reason, but I hope we get one!

    3. The “gang” seems to have come together to work against the clown, and whatever they did is lost to their memories as they revisit sights that meant something to them in childhood. Chüd, silver dollars, and other items are mentioned. Was Mike’s suggestion that they spend time alone in Derry aimed at jogging their memories of what happened or was there another purpose?

    Mike seems set on them remembering things on their own, and going about town to visit their old haunts seems to be a good way to jog their memories. It’s also a way for King to reveal Richie’s solo experience as a child with Pennywise and reveal other details about Derry and the strange things that occurred there. Also, it shows that while Pennywise tends to appear to just children, whatever they did in 1958 means that they can see him as adults…and he’s out to get them!

    4. Do you agree or disagree with Mike’s theory that after the “gang” stopped the killing cycle, something changed that allowed them to be more successful away from Derry than if they stayed? Why or why not?

    I have no idea whether that theory is correct or incorrect. The fact that they are all successful and are all childless could be a coincidence. Mike may not be successful because he didn’t get out of Derry…doesn’t seem like there are too many opportunities in that town. But it’s completely possible that whatever went down that August touched them in unexplainable ways. I guess we have to wait and see.

    • I think that you are right about Pennywise being out to get them…and I wonder about who he really is…was he really a resident of this town who met an end that was less than pleasant and he’s vowed to make anyone in the town pay…is he the cause of the lack of prosperity among its residents? I wonder if its not that Mike stayed in Derry, but that he chose to be a librarian….why didn’t he go to college or leave Derry and return as a professional of some sort…maybe a psychologist…he could’ve helped these people with their mental issues…for instance.

      • Well, Pennywise does say that he is going to get them. He seems more like a demon than an angry spirit of a dead resident, though. Maybe the whole evil encompassing the town and including Pennywise has something to do with the town not prospering. It seems as though Mike may not have had the same opportunities as the others in the gang to leave Derry and succeed. Bill and Ben, for instance, had already left Derry with their families. I think Mike became the librarian because he’s trapped, too. He needs to research and gather information about the killing cycles and the history of Derry, like he’s compelled to do it. So maybe Mike couldn’t have left even if he’d wanted to.

        • Perhaps, though he does say at one point that he chose to stay and “monitor” things.

          • King also needed 1 character to stay behind, otherwise if the press isn’t going to cover the killings in Derry, how would the rest of the gang know to return??

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  • The canal plays a prominent role, and as it runs through, around, and beneath the town it collects all of the waste and darkness from its sewers. What are your theories about the canal and its role in Pennywise’s cycles and mayhem?

    I wonder if the canal represents the evil of Derry and the fact that it takes in all the sewage, etc. as it flows under the city just reminds me even more of the River Styx…and how it leads you to hell. Which has to be where Pennywise lives and comes from…he seems to be pure evil because of all the delight he demonstrates from his actions and killings. I think that Pennywise just may be a manifestation of the canal and all that evil. Just a theory!

    • The comparison of the canal to the River Styx is quite interesting. You might be on to something with that whole thing about leading people to hell. And remember…none of the people who die in Derry are actually dead in the true sense of the word. They seem to come back. Whether those are their ghosts or another of Pennywise’s manifestations…who knows?

      • I like the references to silver…I wonder if that has something to do with paying for passage on the canal/river styx….LOL

        • You have Ben’s silver dollars and Bill’s bike, Silver, so there’s more than one reference to that. I don’t know much about the River Styx, though.

  • *hangs head in shame* I had to drop out of this one…darn it! I really wanted to participate, but it just didn’t work out. Sorry, Serena. Hope I can join in on another read-a-long with you at a later date. 🙂

    • Sorry to hear you couldn’t fit it in. I understand though because it is a large book with a lot of tangents sometimes.

    • Sorry you weren’t able to participate!

  • Bookworm

    Hi Serena, great questions for the discussion. Like Anna, I’m still reading. I’ll have my answers up Wednesday. I feel the book is getting better and better. I do have questions that I hope King will reveal the answers to. I have also wondered about the turtle from the start. I do think this bunch is trapped by both good and terrifying memories.

    • I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks. This section raised a ton of questions, while providing some answers about what happened in 1958.

    • Looking forward to your thoughts!

  • Will you be posting your own answers to these questions? I am still finishing up this section, so I will post about it on my blog and come back and discuss here when I’m finished.

    I will say now that this section is more readable than the previous one and even creepier. I don’t think I will ever be able to go to the library again without thinking of Pennywise.

    I, too, am curious about the turtle and how their cutting short It’s killing spree in 1958 affected their lives. The scene with the fortune cookies was a bit unsettling, and I’m curious because they saw things as kids that no one else saw, and the same thing happened in the restaurant, yet they’re adults now. I really want to know what It is and how it’s affecting the gang.

    • I’m going to reveal my answers as the comments pour in this time.

      • Sounds good! I’ll have more to discuss either tonight (if I get back from taking The Girl trick or treating early enough) or tomorrow. Hope we get a good discussion going!

        • Like most towns, Derry has changed with more developments and banks, but to the “gang” some things remain the same? Do you think they are trapped by nostalgia or something more frightening?

          The crux of Derry remains the same, like the darkness in the town as the crime rate remains high, the nasty canal, the movie theater, the library, but it makes me wonder what about these items are the same and how they are connected. I think that like anyone returning to their hometown, they feel a sense of nostalgia for the past and they often see what they want to see — the things they loved best, their favorite memories. I also think that there may be some evil magic afoot in this town…that has trapped these characters here and trapped them with all of their bad memories.

          • To me, even though the town seems to have grown and modernized, it still seems and feels rundown. There is that sense of nostalgia, as much as they all feared going back. I’m certain there is some sort of evil or magic going on.