Doing It: Sexuality and Repression in Stephen King's It

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Grace Derenne (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
Amanda Wray

Abstract: Stephen King’s 1985 novel It pits seven children against a shape-shifting monster that takes the form of whatever its victims fear the most. This creature, referred to only as “It,” returns to the characters’ hometown every twenty-seven years to feed on children. When It surfaces in 1958, the children band together, drawn to each other through their shared experiences as outcasts. Each of the children is endowed with various physical or societal traits for which they are bullied and ostracized. This, along with the realization that each of them has had an encounter with It, leads them to form the Loser’s Club. The Losers are temporarily able to defeat It in 1958, agreeing to meet again if It ever resurfaces. Twenty-seven years later, in 1985, they return to face It once more, albeit with no memories of their previous experience. The novel weaves between the two time periods, linking the seven’s experiences as children in 1958 with their experiences as adults in 1985. This paper explores how the traits that the children use to defeat It are representative of private fears, how those fears are repressed into adulthood, and how the return of those fears affects them later as adults. All of this contributes to a larger discussion concerning the transition between childhood and adulthood, with particular emphasis on sexuality as both a means of making the transition and as a release of repressed feelings and emotions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Stephen King, IT, 1985, Childhood

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