It Summary

Stephen King


  • Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
  • Full study guide for this title currently under development.
  • To be notified when we launch a full study guide, please contact us.

It Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of It, by Stephen King.

It, a classic Stephen King novel published in 1986, was his twenty-second book written under his own name. It tells the story of a series of missing children and murder in a small town. The children of the town look back years later on their supernatural experiences and must face what is present once and for all.

The story is divided into two different times, childhood and adulthood. At the beginning of the childhood period, the young boy Georgie chases a paper boat, but it falls into a drain. He sees a pair of glowing yellow eyes in the drain and turns to run, but he hears a voice. It is a clown. The clown offers him a balloon, which he refuses, but when he reaches into the grate to retrieve his boat, the clown tears off his arm and leaves him to bleed to death.

The next summer, Georgie’s older brother, Bill, Ben Hanscom, Stanley Uris, Beverly Marsh, and Eddie Kaspbrak—friends whose experience being misfits bring them together—begin to have experiences within their hometown of Derry that lead them to believe they are dealing with an inter-dimensional, shape-shifting being. It appears to them in the shape of what they fear the most. Without knowing its name, they begin to refer to it as “It.”

They link It to a series of murders happening in the town. One of the bullies of the town becomes more unhinged and drives another child, Mike, into the group after killing his dog. Mike tells them that It appeared to him as a flesh-eating bird, and they realize that It has been around for hundreds of years. They suspect that it has particular control of Derry.

The bullies attack them again but are defeated. Henry swears he will take revenge. The group constructs a makeshift smoke hole that Richie and Mike use to hallucinate the origins of It. They realize that it came to earth millions of years before and every twenty-seven years it awakens following a tragedy and feeds on children for a period of twelve to sixteen months.

Eddie is hospitalized after another bully attack, but one of the bullies is killed by It. The group finds a message promising to kill them written in Patrick’s blood. Ben makes silver bullets, believing that silver will harm It. The novel then breaks away to the voice of It. It tells us that it came from between universes in a dimension known as the Macroverse. Nothing can harm It, and it chooses children because their fears are easier to interpret into physical form. Fear is akin to “salting the meat.”

The kids return to the place where they originally encountered It, and It appears as a werewolf. They shoot the being with silver, and it retreats. It manipulates Henry’s mind causing him to kill his father and come after the group with his friends. They chase them into the sewers, but It kills two of the bullies and Henry goes mad. He washes out of the sewers weeks later and is blamed for the murders.

The group performs the “Ritual of Chüd” to enter the macroverse. They find Mataurin, an ancient creator being, who tells them how to defeat It. Bill enters It’s mind and discovers It’s true form as a series of deadly orange lights called The Deadlights. They defeat It and send it back to slumber.

The second part returns to their adulthood. It is awake, and a series of child murders cause Mike, the town’s librarian, to call the group back together. They all agree to return, except for Stan who slits his wrists rather than return.

Mike reminds them of the story, and they decide to kill It once and for all. It begins to manipulate the minds of those around him, and it kidnaps some of their significant others. It appears to them as their original fears, and they follow it to its lair. There, It almost kills them, but they perform the Ritual of Chüd again.

They manage to injure It severely, and they save Bill from the Deadlights. They find that It had laid eggs, so they destroy them, and Bill crushes It’s heart between his hands finally killing it. A massive storm sweeps through Maine, collapsing Derry’s downtown and they conclude that It’s influence has finally broken.

As they go through the next months, their memories begin to fade, and they gradually forget about It and each other. It and the town of Derry have finally died, ending the influence of the being once and for all.

The friendship of the group is the one thing that allows them to band together as children and as adults to defeat an inter-dimensional being. They find each other through their mutual experiences being misfits, but their friendship proves very powerful in surviving and defeating evil. It also allows them to manipulate a magic of their own that confuses and wounds It, suggesting that children together are able to use their power to overcome obstacles.

It takes a terrifying look at death and the things that confront us in the night. Our sense of mortality lies dormant in our minds, and through the events of Derry, the characters are forced to face their mortality head on. This violence and death is a way of life in the world, and in It, those forces are terrifyingly present.