It It question


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Sex scene toward the end of IT (warning: spoilers)
James Radford James Jan 03, 2014 05:28PM
I really enjoyed IT. I thought the character portraits were among the most vivid and compelling of any I've ever read. The horror elements were good too, but I viewed them as flavor to move the book along as we learned more about the lives of the characters and the strange history of Derry.

All that being said, the scene toward the end where Beverly has sex with all the other kids seemed extraneous to me. And I can deal with extraneous if its otherwise entertaining or adds something to the read. But to me, this scene was just an upsetting, kind of gross, kind of sad thing tacked into the narrative for no real reason. The explanation that she decided she needed to do it to "bring them all together" so they could find their way out of the tunnels just didn't make sense. There's no rhyme or reason to why she would make that conclusion. There's no reference point, no way that it ties into another element of the story.

I wish this scene had made it to the cutting room floor. I've read an interview with King where he explains the scene as "childhood meeting adulthood" or something, but I'm not sold.

Anyone have a good defense of this scene? Something I'm missing?



Sophie (last edited Mar 13, 2014 02:44PM ) Mar 13, 2014 02:42PM   10 votes
I don't have an issue with the scene or ending on a bunch of levels. For one, although the kids are technically having sex, it didn't read as eroticized for me. For another, Bev is reclaiming something in that scene...her sense of self and power. Something her father was trying to take away, and something that she loses later on in her abusive marriage. So it didn't feel out of nowhere to me at all, but an element of Bev she repressed, a time when she moved from child to adult, on her own terms. A time when she had power she forgot.

The other reality is that kids do have sexual thoughts, feelings, and even actions. That's not wrong or bad when expressed with other kids. In the context of the story, they've all just experienced a kind of cosmic terror: the "sex" is a very human act, intimate, with love. So I wouldn't categorize it as a "gang bang" or otherwise diminish it, nor does it make King a "perv". Writing about something doesn't mean you, personally, would do it. And writing about kids having a sexual experience doesn't mean a grown up finds kids sexually appealing. It's a little dangerous to act like writers must want to do everything they write about...Pennywise killed a lot of kids in that book...I don't think anyone thinks King is a wannabe child murderer.


I was offended by Beverly's dad being so perverse as to think that she would be sexually involved with her friends just because they were boys. Then it turned out that he was right. This made me feel betrayed, and also seemed extremely disrespectful to Beverly.


When I first read it I thought that it is too controversial scene, but now, the more I think of it I guess that it meant to symbol some kind of "end of childish innocence". Only children were able to see and fight It and only they could enter it's domain. But in order to leave it they had to stop being children.


Like the original commenter, I too adored It up to that scene. When I say "adore" I mean I was so into It that I took the book everywhere just to read it if I had a few seconds to spare like at stop lights and such. I was at a bar waiting for a band to play when I came across that scene. I was working with abused children at the time so my tolerance for that kind of sexual exploitation was at a lifetime low. I finished the book and actually threw it across the bar. I don't think I hit anyone but I apologize just the same.


I'd have to agree with you - the effect is jarring, and something that fails to live up to the rationale given for it. More pointless than poignant.


Lee (last edited Mar 29, 2014 10:19AM ) Mar 29, 2014 10:19AM   3 votes
I'm a huge fan of King's work, but as others have said, he's simply terrible with endings. Some of them are merely let-downs (Christine -- I barely remember it now, but I remember how he had built it up and up and nothing much came of it) but 'It' is one of the most jarring -- despite it being one of my favourite books of all time -- precisely because of the clichéd 'true nature' of It and the awful sex scene.

The sole female member of the Losers is sexualised and almost turned into a 'prize' -- the boys' reward for defeating It, despite the muddled explanation that it somehow makes the path clear for them after they've done it. And the detail given is just entirely unnecessary and extremely inappropriate even in a book that deals with a child-killing murder-clown.

This, coming after so much lovingly textured history, backstory and wonderful character tics, contributes to making it possibly the most disappointing of King's endings (beating out even The Stand for most amazing story with a terrible ending).

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Victor YOU DIDN'T LIKE THE ENDING TO THE STAND!?!?!?!?
Apr 10, 2018 06:25AM

Gross. No need for it. I'm a huge King fan but hated that and the book droned on.


John (last edited Jan 16, 2014 11:28AM ) Jan 16, 2014 11:27AM   2 votes
I loved the book but I tend to think that King could have found a better way than a child gang-bang for these kids to find their way out of the tunnel. This scene has always struck me as coming completely out of nowhere and completely unnecessary. I would really love to know what was going through his head when he wrote it.


When i first read the book the sex didnt worry me too much, king always likes a bit of perving. on a reread though,as i realised the ages involved,the sex scene with the kids was just plain wrong.
An earlier masturbation scene set the alarm bells ringing(yuk). the sex scene itself is monumentally badly judged, it should never have seen the light of day. It's amazing that no-one had the chutzpah to tell him this before publication.

that scene has framed my judgement of the author and it's not good.


"There was power in this act, all right," Bev reflects, "a chain-breaking power that was blood-deep" . When she experiences her first orgasm (with Ben), "she feels her power suddenly shift to him; she gives it gladly and goes with it" . This was the only material power that bev had to confront the creature, the only "talisman " she had. The other's had their's... Richie his voices, Eddie his aspirator that he envisioned was "battery-acid" to the creature... brought about only by the power of his imagination and faith. Bill had Silver and the mantras that he used to cure his stuttering. This was completely within her character... asserting her power as the Priestess or shaman of the group, and saved them all from being lost forever. A great ritualistic metaphor by King, I think.


I always thought that sex scene was grossly uncalled for!


Marian (last edited Jan 03, 2014 07:10PM ) Jan 03, 2014 06:54PM   1 vote
No defence here; it was a scene that seemed to come out of nowhere. The only thing that resonates about it for me is on a purely mythological basis; there are similarities to Celtic myth, in which the warriors not only learn to fight from women/goddesses, they also have sex with them at least once in order to gain a special blessing. (See CuChulainn, particularly.) I don't know if King had anything like that in mind, but if he did, it was pretty well submerged.

Actually - after discussing this with a friend - there's another possibility, and one I like better. Having sex is often seen as a loss of innocence as much as a transition from childhood to adulthood. The Loser's Club, as children, are vulnerable to seemingly invincible childhood fears - the very fears on which IT preys. After sex - and, by extension, gaining the ability to diminish childhood fears to something manageable - they become able to confront, and ultimately defeat, IT in its own lair.


I'm glad it wasn't just me who felt uncomfortable with the way IT ended. I think Michael has hit the nail on the head by saying that King tends to be a "pantser". In "on writing" he says that he usually doesn't know how his novels are going to end. He writes by putting characters into difficult situations to see how they would react.

He argues that if the author doesn't know how the characters are going to survive it will make the tension more intense.

The problem with that is that his endings can seem a little forced. I'm still not convinced by the ending of The Stand, even though it has one of the best beginnings of any story. Too much of a deus ex machine for my taste.

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Andrew Geczy You're complaining about deus ex machina in a book literally about the rapture and god on earth. I feel like Deus Ex Machina (God in the machine) is s ...more
Jul 08, 2018 02:12PM

It never bothered me. I thought using it as a way to draw them all together made sense.

And I even liked the last 200 pages or so. This and The Stand remain my favorite King books.


I think it's a great bonding moment: in my experience, nothing brings people closer than sharing a good old bottle of Brain Bleach every time that scene is mentioned. It's the Chud ritual of hardcore King fans.


The entire book carries the subtext of juxtaposition between adulthood and childhood. The sex scene is the ultimate merging of the two, innocence sacrificed in the name of survival.
It's no wonder none of the children remain close after that final experience.
King doesn't write the orgy portion very well & probably could have come up with a better metaphor but it is what it is, accept it or don't.


I think the scene with Beverly and the boys shows their unification - a strengthening of the bond between them all, and a rite of passage, from childhood into adulthood.


The complete scene has his point in the story, and is the loss of the innocence of the losers, so they can deal with there lives after that experience (unless that is how I see it). However the execution is not well written, and the whole situation became too creepy and unnecessary. I believe that a more mature Stephen King could put that scene in a better way, respecting his characters and given it a more meaningfull and clear conclusion.


I thought the same thing when I read this book about 17 years ago. I have never forgotten how odd I found it. I was a teenager myself when I read It so I had a hard time understanding the point of such a scene. I am very open minded but it really blew my hair back. The sex scene seemed creepy and I felt bad for Beverly. She banged a group of guys snd it wasnt because she thought she would enjoy it. Mythical it may be but these kids didnt seem to need an orgy.


Reread the book and want to thank everyone for chipping in their views on this scene. I have kids that age and the scene really threw me off course. Those that view it as a loss of innocence seem to be most at peace with the scene. The amount of carnage they witness and the abuse many of them have taken, dog murders, father beatings, werewolf attacks, may have taken some of that innocence already, no? Also, my mind can't really accept that while it is Beverlys idea, and portrayed as "consensual" I think some of the boys should have had the strength to say this is not right, I don't want to do this, you may not feel real good about this in the morning dear friend in distress. Still wish the scene never happened. Loved the reviewer who threw the book across the bar (big book! Don't try this at home! ).


"There's no reference point, no way that it ties into another element of the story."

There's a sort of reference point actually, where it does tie into another element: her father.


Still, much as I liked "It" that scene will always marr the story for me - and no matter how he reasons it, for me it will always feel that it was the dirty old man in King that came up with it.


What did you want the ending to be? Pennywise was just a clown that was so mistreated in his life he became a tortured spirit?
Maybe he was actually a demon? Of all the cliches that could have been used. Cosmic Spider....ok did you see that coming?

The sex scene may make you uncomfortable but it should. Do you remember the first time you had sex? Were you dead certain this was all going to be ok? But the other person was there with you. Maybe they knew what was going on so they weren't scared. Maybe you were both terrified. But was it romantic? It was something you did. Some kids who just battles an evil space monster clown that could take over their minds was bad enough. Maybe it was like. OMG! What do we do now?


It came from the left field, and when I think about it, the concept he was trying to show made sense. They had to reestablish their bond or whatever, but it just seemed too much. The book would've been just as good without it, so I'm thinking the sex scene had to be a conscious choice on his end and his editor, and I wonder why they decided to keep it in there.


This was my favorite scene in the book and the one I always remember the most except perhaps when that vicious brutal kid was killed by IT with the refrigerator.


I've always hated that scene, and felt it tarnished King's legacy as a writer. In fact, whenever I come across a ridiculous plot element or an offensive scenario in a novel, I think about It. In all these years, of all the stupid things I've read in books, none will ever top that one disastrous and nonsensical scene. It took what I thought was one of the great horror novels of all time and knocked it down a full peg.


Michael (last edited Jan 10, 2014 01:48PM ) Jan 10, 2014 01:47PM   0 votes
Hi
I have to agree, it was an annoying ending.
King has admitted that he tends to 'pants' his novels, that is, to start without a clear end in his mind and see where he goes to. This becomes obvious the more of his stuff you read.
I love his books, but a number of the endings are hugely frustrating, just because they feel like he ran out of steam and had to end somewhere.
That said, the end of the Dark Tower series, aside from making me want to punch things, was fantastic :)


Bethany Diavoli (last edited Jan 08, 2014 07:20PM ) Jan 08, 2014 07:19PM   0 votes
While I love this book, I can not defend his reasoning for that scene. I felt the scene was "forced", it did not flow naturally with the rest of the story at all.


I agree it has always confused me, and ruined the ending. It felt tagged on.


I agree with the fact that it was jarring to read. I reread it a couple times, because I was like "Wtf is going on here?!" but then I got it. They felt like they were being drawn apart, and I think to kids, that's a scary feeling. I also think that adults drill into kids heads that sex is only something you to when you love someone and it's someone special. And in this instance, after going through this ordeal and defeating It, the love they would have felt for each other would have been enormous. Not to mention the adrenaline rush. So I think maybe in Bev's inexperienced, naive mind, she was doing it because she loved them, and because they were special to her, and that's how it seemed appropriate to express it. Maybe she felt that was the only way, the biggest way, to get it across to them how much she loved them.


I admit i found the child sex scene as odd route to take but i understand that it united them as all they took that step into adulthood together in order to get rid of the creature that terrorised them as children. But odd none the same.


I am getting ready to read IT. Should I just stop reading after they defeat IT?


Dumb and unnecessary. Ruined a good story IMHO.


writing the review, claiming 'It' to be my favourite King, I mention though I might not intellectually understand this scene but emotionally intuit it... that this scene represents passage into adulthood and who other than your best friends would you want this to happen with? again deciding how much I liked 'It', I wonder actually how imperative this might be: here, rather than all the horrors described, monsters, evil of all levels, strategies used to defeat, shorthand for characters, all which seem like something got from a warehouse of horror tropes- then there is this sex scene (I think it is called a 'train' rather than gangbang), this abrupt transition, that seems to come out of nowhere in the apparent plot but is perhaps key in the latent plot (Beverly taking back her power, boys finding acceptance, finding adulthood, escaping 'It's sewer domain...), I feel here King goes beyond, goes deeper, goes to the truth of this story... of what you would want with only brave, best friends... the magic, the maturing, the final triumph is not a typical scene... and that even so they lose each other in memory...


Sadly, that is the downside of King's books. He likes going on tangents, suddenly and unexpectedly sticking in a story from a character's past.

I've tried interpreting the sex scene to rid my ire caused by its presence in the book but that doesn't excuse it.


I loved this book. I read it as a teenager, and I remember being very sad when it ended because I felt very connected to the characters.

I did, however, find the sex scene to be disturbing. It was like he threw it in to be controversial. I did not watch the movie. Was it cut out for TV?


I was completely put off by this scene and find that is a reoccurring theme in King's work: unnecessary shock value.


And no one is bothered by children being murdered, dismembered and devoured. Just the sex stuff. INTERESTING.


I have such mixed feelings on this scene. The first time I read it I was fourteen and so honestly didn't really get how young they were. After all, they were only a few years younger than me. Then years later after I read the book after becoming a parent they obviously were VERY young to me. I've just finished it now for the third time and have landed in the middle.

I find it deeply ironic that for the character Bev the only real intimacy she ever had was in those moments with the Losers Club as a child and then later. The spectre of her father was over everything and her whole childhood is basically tainted by her sexuality and her father's fear and possessiveness of that sexuality. Her burgeoning sexuality was a liability and put her at risk in her home with the father who is supposed to protect her. Yet, in this moment her burgeoning sexuality and the power of that is what becomes a source of strength and power.

I am still very uncomfortable in many ways but too me it doesn't come out of left field and in a very dark, powerful way makes sense. The fact that Stephen King wrote this scene and all these years later we are still effected by it says something.

The striking thing about It is how it so very clearly captures the intimacy of true friendship and unconditional acceptance. They accepted each other and there was no doubts that they were to die for and with each other. In that context, it can seem like this final act by Bev was the blending of the innocent trusting of a child with the more knowing, conscious giving of an adult.


James wrote: "I really enjoyed IT. I thought the character portraits were among the most vivid and compelling of any I've ever read. The horror elements were good too, but I viewed them as flavor to move the boo..."
It makes sense in the grand scheme of the story, many horror stories are actually metaphors for real life terrors or tragedies. If you were to replace the trauma at the hands of the clown with something more to child molestation, while the tunnels themselves holding significance as the location of the abuse, a few other things start to make more sense. On one hand, an abused child would be more likely to lash out sexually, and on the other hand being abused is in a way having your sexuality and choice taken away from you, so for B that scene at the end was her taking back her sexuality from her predator, with the clown being a metaphor not for the sexual offender but for the trauma they caused her. After vanquishing that trauma she took her sexuality back in her own way, even if the culmination of the trauma and its eventual explosion was indeed "cringy." Also while I couldn't say for sure that her father was the offender, it would also explain why he would so readily assume she would take sexual action with male friends, because it is behavior he introduced her to and there would be lingering feelings of jealousy in his sick head. In whole i saw the book as a shocking introspection into the usually unperceived trauma that child sex abuse victims suffer.


I find this thread pretty interesting and came across an article that addresses this topic pretty clearly. I am not sure if I agree with it or not but I thought it was worth sharing.

"Throughout the book, Beverly’s abusive father berates her, bullies her, and beats her, but he never tries to sexually abuse her until he’s possessed by It. Remember that It becomes what you fear, and while it becomes a Mummy, a Wolfman, and the Creature From the Black Lagoon for the boys, for Beverly It takes the form of a gout of blood that spurts out of the bathroom drain and the threat of her father raping her. Throughout the book, Beverly is not only self-conscious about her changing body, but also unhappy about puberty in general. She wants to fit in with the Losers Club but she’s constantly reminded of the fact that she’s not just one of the boys. From the way the boys look at her to their various complicated crushes she’s constantly reminded that she’s a girl becoming a woman. Every time her gender is mentioned she shuts down, feels isolated, and withdraws. So the fact that having sex, the act of “doing it,” her moment of confronting the heart of this thing that makes her feel so removed, so isolated, so sad turns out to a comforting, beautiful act that bonds her with her friends rather than separates them forever is King’s way of showing us that what we fear most, losing our childhood, turns out not to be so bad after all."

https://www.tor.com/2013/09/25/the-gr...


Holly (last edited Jan 13, 2014 05:21AM ) Jan 09, 2014 06:36AM   0 votes
The ending of this book was a major disappointment, from the sex scene to the reveal of It in It's true form.

Interestingly, I recently read a book with very similar themes (set in the year 1958, in a locality that has been cursed with a child killing monster for centuries......) that I felt was more frightening and had a much more satisfying ending.

Looking back, I see this as the defining moment for me as a reader of SK.......after It he really never wrote any novels that I enjoyed reading. I still love his short stories, though.


King should have actually done some research into the effects of group sex and relationships.
Its more likely to trash a relationship between friends than to build and strengthen bonds.


James wrote: "I really enjoyed IT. I thought the character portraits were among the most vivid and compelling of any I've ever read. The horror elements were good too, but I viewed them as flavor to move the boo..."


Sheila (last edited Jan 04, 2014 09:56AM ) Jan 04, 2014 09:44AM   0 votes
Marian, thanks for that. I couldn't see beyond it acting as some sort of talisman for those involved.

It seemed that Beverly was bestowing something in some way, but I couldn't understand how or why she felt this should be the way to do it.

(Wow. A long time since I've really considered that scene and this book....)


Joseph (last edited Aug 02, 2018 10:40PM ) Sep 13, 2017 06:28AM   0 votes
“There are darknesses in life, and there are lights. You are one of the lights.”

—Van Helsing to Mina Harker, Bram Stoker, 𝘋𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢

The sexual ritual was another form of magic—and magic is the essence of the whole book. King reveals this before we even begin the novel. Like Melville's 𝘦𝘨𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘯 𝘣𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘻𝘰 𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘯𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘴, the motto of 𝙄𝙩 is 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘤 𝘦𝘹𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘴.

The key to the whole tableaux, for me, is found in one line. And the word occurs only once in the entire book (I guess people could be forgiven if they forgot it). Its singular presence was brilliant, because it wasn't one of those revelations that authors might keep reminding you of again and again till it loses its power. No, the word is used only once, but its power, because we know so much at this point of its opposite, is in its quiet, silent appearance in the dark, like God whispering to Elijah. At the height of their mutual ecstasy in the darkness, the darkness beneath the darkness of Derry, Ben and Bev encounter the power which stands against the nameless and terrible It they have (they think) destroyed:

“They break through into the 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 together.” (Italics mine)

—Chapter 22, “The Ritual of Chüd,” 12, Love and Desire/August 10th, 1958

The adolescents in the dark, dismal, deathly sewer counter Its deadlights with their lifelights.

It is completely consistent with the novel that sex—the means by which children are created—would reveal the lifelights of human beings. Sex is an avatar of the Turtle's creative power. Lifelights.

Does it even need to be said more directly? The deadlights devour children; the lifelights generate them.

Note another detail related to this: their circle disintegrates shortly after, and in their subsequent diaspora, they forget all of this, they forget themselves as they truly were—𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯.

Not only does it make sense contextually in a novel that is all about faith, friendship and the deepest magic called life, it's in fact one of the most poignant, moving scenes King ever composed. That it has been misunderstood by so many of his readers is not surprising, but it is sad. It's a sign that they, perhaps, do not know what this novel is about at all.

And it says something about us, too. I have no energy left to explore those possibilities in detail. I will say that I think the desire, the mysterious nature of sexuality and the generation, or discovery, of their lifelight is sincerely and genuinely innocent, and King's descriptions of this ritual are obviously not erotic descriptions to evoke sexual pleasure from the reader. There is not a hint of anything pornographic. King depicts their sexual and erotic experience in a deliberately careful and nonerotic way. His prose is not exploitative. Give King some credit; he loves the characters he creates. And that's one reason we come to love them.

Okay. That said, I am glad, despite its beauty and power in the novel, it was not included in the recent adaptation, though something of the idea behind it is present through more conventional and symbolic surrogates. I will also say I was impressed with the addition of a fairy tale motive in the film (I won't say what it is so as not to spoil it, but the people who did see it may know what I'm referring to. It alludes, gently, to the magic which flows through the novel like the Kenduskeag Stream).


This scene completely ruins the entire book for me to this day. Otherwise I enjoyed it.


Doing "it" is one of the central mysteries--if not the central mystery--of adolescence. The Losers had just faced It together, and then they found themselves facing the *other* It--note that King capitalizes "It," in that sequence, referring not to the creature, but to sex.


James wrote: "I really enjoyed IT. I thought the character portraits were among the most vivid and compelling of any I've ever read. The horror elements were good too, but I viewed them as flavor to move the boo..."

"no way that it ties into another element of the story." could it have gone another route? oh absolutly. but. I think it does fit in the overarching narrative. This progress from mundane to the extreme. a standoff on a bridge turns into a massacre, a school bully turns into a real monster and the losers at risk losing themselves in the clubhouse deciding who stands outside the smoke ceremony only for them to come back each expressing their love for bev and not want to see her go.....turned into the sewer scene. i'm not defending the scene cause yeah it's wierd but so was a lot of images in this story.


Ramon (last edited Sep 13, 2016 07:42PM ) Sep 13, 2016 07:39PM   0 votes
I feel she viewed her dad as a human consistent with the nature of "It" and the only way to both defeat and separate herself from her father, was to defeat him with the sexual act to destroy his ideal life for his girl. Likewise, IT was trying to kill them with enticement and that I feel was his ideal, which is to say that the losers were nothing more than food to consume. She personally destroyed her father with the sex act to strengthen the collective bond in order to destroy IT. An entity of the natural world was her father while IT was an entity of the supernatural world and they both were destroyed by her action.


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