The Shining Summary,Themes,Characters & Synopsis

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The Shining by Stephen King | Summary,Themes,Characters & Synopsis
TitleThe Shining
AuthorStephen King
PublicationJanuary 28, 1977
GenreHorror, Thriller
SettingThe Overlook Hotel, Colorado
ProtagonistJack Torrance
AntagonistThe malevolent spirits of the Overlook Hotel
Main ThemesIsolation, alcoholism, the supernatural, family dynamics


The main characters of “The Shining” by Stephen King are:

  1. Jack Torrance – He’s a man who takes a job as a winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. He’s a recovering alcoholic with a temper problem.
  2. Wendy Torrance – Jack’s wife. She’s caring and protective, especially of her son, Danny. She tries to keep her family safe.
  3. Danny Torrance – He’s a young boy with a special gift called “the shining.” He can see things others can’t, and he’s often in danger because of it.
  4. Dick Hallorann – He’s a kind man who also has “the shining.” He helps Danny understand his gift and tries to save the Torrance family when they’re in trouble.
  5. Tony – Tony is an imaginary friend of Danny’s who communicates with him and helps him understand his shining abilities.
  6. The Overlook Hotel – It’s not a person, but it’s a very important place in the story. The hotel is old and haunted, and it affects the characters in scary ways.
  7. The Ghosts – The hotel is full of ghosts from its dark past, and they come to life to haunt the Torrance family.


The themes of “The Shining” by Stephen King are:

  1. Being Alone – It’s about feeling lonely and scared.
  2. Drinking Too Much – One person drinks too much, and it’s a problem.
  3. Ghosts and Weird Stuff – There are spooky things that can’t be explained.
  4. Family Problems – The family in the story has big issues.
  5. Being Really Scared – It’s about being very, very scared.
  6. Good vs. Bad – It’s about good people fighting bad things.
  7. Bad Things in the Past – Bad things from before still affect people now.


Shining is a scary novel about a family that goes to a big, empty hotel to take care of it during the winter. The dad gets a job there, but he’s not very nice because he drinks too much.

The hotel is haunted, and it makes the dad go crazy. His son has a special power called “the shining,” which means he can see scary things in the hotel. The family has to fight the ghosts and try to survive. It’s a spooky story about a haunted hotel and a family in danger.


Jack Torrance attends an interview to become the Overlook Hotel’s new caretaker at the start of The Shining. The hotel cannot be left unattended even though it will shortly close for the winter. Ullman, the manager of The Overlook, has reservations about hiring Jack. He wants to make sure Jack understands that if the snow starts to fall, he and his family—his wife, Wendy & his five-year-old son, Danny—will be entirely stranded at the hotel. Jack adds that Wendy and Danny will have enough to do while he is working on his play.

Since the Overlook’s completion in 1909, Ullman has provided some background information, but Jack interrupts him abruptly. Delbert Grady, the winter 1970–1971 caretaker, killed his wife and two small girls in a drunken frenzy before turning the gun on himself, according to Ullman. Ullman is aware that Jack is a sober alcoholic who lost his temper and was sacked from his teaching position at a Vermont Prep school. He is given Jack’s assurance that both issues are in check. Ullman claims to have the position, but only because Al Shockley, a powerful individual at the Overlook, who is a friend of Jack’s, demands it.

At the same time, Wendy & Danny Torrance are waiting for Jack at their run-down Boulder, Colorado, apartment. Wendy is concerned for her son and her spouse. She recalls the incident from a few years ago when Jack accidentally fractured Danny’s arm. She hoped that her spouse would control his fury.

While Wendy frets, Jack leads Watson, the Overlook’s original builder’s grandson, on a tour of the hotel’s boiler room. Jack receives repeated advice from Watson to check the boiler periodically. Otherwise, it will begin to swell under internal pressure and eventually explode, taking the Overlook with it. In addition, Watson informs Jack that a lady who had been abandoned by her much younger partner earlier this season died in a hotel room.

Danny, who adores Jack to the moon and back, is waiting on the sidewalk outside the flat as Jack heads home. Danny is aware that Jack is not considering drinking as Wendy suspects. The worst scenario Danny can think of is his parents getting divorced, which is the major reason Danny fears Jack’s drinking. Sometimes Tony, Danny’s pal, shows up when Danny concentrates intensely on reading thoughts. Now that Danny is paying close attention, Tony can be seen in the distance. Danny, who is slouched on the sidewalk, is taken on a terrible voyage by Tony to a place that is gloomy, snowy, and has a large structure. A terrifying creature within the structure is pursuing Danny around with a mallet while the word REDRUM (4.39) flashes in a mirror. Danny discovers a dead lady decaying in a bathtub in another room.

Just as Jack arrives home after his interview at the Overlook, Tony finally departs. Danny is ecstatic to meet his father. He goes into town with Jack so that Jack may phone Al Shockley in Vermont and express his gratitude for getting him the job. Al was formerly Jack’s drinking partner. After colliding with a child’s bike, they both decided to quit drinking, but they never discovered a dead child. The Torrances’ situation significantly improved once Jack quit drinking. After discovering the student cutting his tires, Jack then lost his patience and his job. He attacked the youngster.

“Closing Day” is the title of the novel’s second chapter. The Torrance family moves into the Overlook, their new home, on September 30, 1975, the final day of the Overlook’s season. Ullman is waiting for them there. The last guests are checking out as the hotel closes for the night.

Chef Dick Halloran of the Overlook is introduced to the Torrances. He displays the food and the kitchen to them. The closing eve celebration the previous evening used up all the booze at the Overlook. Halloran is aware that Danny can read minds. He calls Danny’s talent “shining” when they speak in private. Although less as powerful as Danny, Halloran also possesses the talent. Halloran informs Danny that only those who shine can see the horrible things at the Overlook. He assures Danny that nothing he might see is true and that he cannot be harmed. If Danny needs him, he is to call a psychic, and he will come and assist him. Ullman then offers the Torrance family a tour. Danny notices blood and gore on a wall in the Presidential Suite.

The third chapter of the book is titled “The Wasps’ Nest.” Jack gets stung by wasps while working on the roof. Jack suddenly remembers how to get off the roof so he may search for insect spray. He worries about his temper and considers his violent father. Both the event with George Hatfield and the possibility of breaking Danny’s arm crosses his mind. He walks down to grab the bug killer after some time has passed. He kills the wasps and decides to use their nest as a decorative element in Danny’s room. Danny is thrilled when Jack subsequently delivers it to him.

Danny sees Tony and “Redrum” that evening as he brushes his teeth in the restroom. Wendy becomes aware of how long he has been in the restroom. When she attempts to enter, the door is locked. Jack slams the door after being distracted from his work and on the edge of losing his cool. Danny appears to be in a trance until his parents wake him up. They soothe him. Danny afterward feels something crawling on him as he continues to see Redrum in his dreams. Wasps! When he shouts, Jack and Wendy rush to help. Jack is puzzled by the entire swarming of the wasps in the nest. Danny is calmed by him and Wendy, and Jack puts the nest in a glass container and brings it outdoors.

The following day, Jack and Wendy drive Danny to the neighboring Sidewinder psychiatrist Dr. Edmonds. He checks Danny and finds no evidence of epilepsy. After speaking with Danny about Tony, he informs Jack & Wendy that Tony is likely Danny’s method of coping with the stress of the family’s recent move as well as his discomfort.

Ten days later, Jack discovers a scrapbook with information on the Overlook’s history from 1945 to 1967 while searching through the Overlook’s files in the basement. Horace Derwent, a multimillionaire, formerly owned it. An invitation to the Overlook’s 1945 grand opening masquerade dance is the first item in the scrapbook. Derwent’s ties to organized crime are revealed to Jack. The hotel was a favored hangout for members of organized crime. He starts to consider penning a book about the Overlook. When Wendy finally descends to see what he’s up to, they start to flirt.

Danny is now standing outside of Room 217. He is eager to enter and has the passkey. Even though his curiosity is quite high, he remembers that he promised Halloran he wouldn’t enter the chamber, so he flees. Wendy worries about Jack and Danny that evening. She decides to ask Danny what he thinks the very next day since she believes something horrible is occurring to them at the hotel. Danny is aware that his mother is anxious. He worries as well, but he also understands that the Overlook is his family’s final hope, therefore he is reluctant to go. He decides to contact Tony for advice on how to halt Redrum. The following day, as they are leaving the Sidewinder library, Wendy asks Danny about his opinion. 

While Wendy & Danny are talking, Jack is taking care of the hedgehogs beside the playground at the Overlook. During his break on the playground, he reflects on his past love for his controlling father. The hedge creatures then appear to be threatening him as they move. Although he feels rather frightened, he dismisses the experience as a hallucination.

Snow starts falling that evening. A week has passed. The radio continues to play even when the phones go out. While everything is calm, Jack is reading more of the Overlook’s documents. Danny decides to return to Room 217 today. This time, his curiosity gets the better of him, and he enters the space. He discovers a nude woman’s decaying corpse in the bathtub! He rushes to the door but is unable to open it. Danny senses the corpse’s hands on his neck as the tale comes to a close.

Jack is in the basement experiencing a highly vivid dream about his history, including a tragic occurrence from when he was nine years old, while Wendy is dozing and Danny is in room 217. At the dinner table, his father severely beat his mother with a cane. He makes his way to Ullman’s office while still asleep. He destroys the radio after hearing his father’s voice on it telling him to kill Wendy and Danny. He is caught red-handed by Wendy.

Then Danny is discovered. His neck is covered with bruises, and he is in poor condition. Wendy instantly suspects Jack and sequesters herself and Danny in the bedroom. Jack approaches the bar and visualizes ordering drinks there. Wendy will soon call him. As soon as Danny opens his eyes, he informs his parents about the woman in 217. Jack enters the room to investigate. Although he doesn’t see the woman, he can hear her approaching him from behind the door as he exits. He informs Danny & Wendy that the room is empty. Wendy urges Jack to take them to Sidewinder on the snowmobile later that evening. She is quite concerned for Danny and wants him to go back to the doctor. Jack concurs, but while he prepares the snowmobile in the equipment shed, he discards a component that is essential for it to function.

On November 29, Danny decides to go play on the icy playground while Jack & Wendy remain upstairs. a terrible concept. While playing in a concrete ring, he first runs with some sort of ghost, and then later, the hedge animals come to life and start chasing him. Before he gets to the porch, one of them even scrapes his leg. He tells Jack and Wendy exactly what occurred when they had successfully calmed him down. Jack shows his surprise. Danny discovers Jack has also seen the hedgehogs. The child is about to say that when Jack strikes him. The Torrances discover confetti, party goodies, and a mask inside the elevator that night as it starts moving on its own.

On December 1, Danny has a vision that Redrum will occur the next day while fiddling with the clock in the Overlook’s ballroom. He sends a powerful telepathic cry for assistance to Halloran. Shopping for the resort where he works is what Halloran is doing in Florida. He hears Danny’s call as he is returning home and nearly veers off the road. He persuades his supervisor to grant him a leave of absence before rushing to the airport.

On December 2 in the morning, Danny awakens to see a man in a dog costume creeping on the floor in the hallway. The dogman, who threatens Danny, has a bloodied face. Wendy awakens as Danny enters the bedroom again. Halloran eventually boards the aircraft this morning after spending the previous night at the airport. Jack is in the living room after spending the night in the basement with the Overlook documents. The bar is completely stocked this time.

Lloyd, the bartender, serves Jack as many martinis as he desires. The 1945 masquerade gala hosted by Harry Derwent is in full swing, & Jack is delighted to be there. Delbert Grady, the caregiver who killed Jack’s family, advises him to execute Wendy and Danny as retribution for their misbehavior. Jack sees himself beating Danny to death with a hammer. The group leaves soon, but to Jack’s joy, the bar is still filled. He decides to prepare his own drinks since the bartender is gone, but when he tries to climb over the bar, he strikes his head and faints. Early in the morning, 8:30. Halloran is attempting to reach the Overlook after arriving at the Denver airport.

Around midday, Wendy descends the stairs to prepare Danny’s lunch while carrying a kitchen knife. She locks the door and departs from Danny’s chambers. As she descends, she discovers Jack sprawled out behind the bar, very inebriated and smelling like gin. She wakes him up, and he immediately grabs her ankle and starts to yell at her. When Danny shows up, he begs them to quit. Wendy smacks Jack in the head with a decorative wine bottle as he starts to choke Jack. She brings him to the kitchen and locks him in the pantry there after that. Jack is still making obscene threats incessantly and loudly trying to exit the pantry at three in the afternoon. 

Wendy and Danny start to wonder whether he’s escaped when these sounds stop over two hours later. The Overlook Hotel “[comes] to life around them” when they hear the elevator begin to move.

In the meantime, Jack is attempting to regain his strength by munching on Triscuits in the cupboard. He’ll need it to exact revenge on Danny and Wendy for their treachery. He starts to understand why his father beat his mother with a cane and develops sympathy for him. As Wendy has done with Jack, she must have deceived Jack’s father. Grady soon shows up in front of the pantry door. Grady promises to let Jack free in exchange for him killing Wendy and Danny. Grady then lets him go. Someone left Jack with various items in the kitchen, including “a martini glass, a fifth of gin, and a dish of olives” (48.50). a mallet, and. Jack is now joyful.

Halloran and Sidewinder are nearly there. He receives a foreboding message from the Overlook warning him not to approach. He runs off the road and is saved by a snowplow driver. He is told where in Sidewinder to go to rent a snowmobile by the man.

It’s almost five o’clock in the evening at the Overlook. With a knife in hand, Wendy leaves Danny in the quarters to see if Jack has come out of the cellar after becoming overly curious. He is. With the mallet, he strikes her in the stomach. To the stairs, she sprints. With the mallet, he strikes her once again, this time in the ribcage. Wendy springs up onto his back and inserts “the kitchen knife into his lower back up to the handle” (50.89). She attempts to ascend the steps. Now that she’s halfway there, Jack is following closely behind.

In his leased snowmobile, Halloran arrives at the Overlook, where the hedge lions immediately start attacking him.

Wendy is still just behind Jack. She gets nearly to her room before being startled by “a man with a green ghoul mask” (52.7) who emerges from one of the rooms. Jack strikes her “squarely between the shoulder blades” when she falls (52.9). She nearly faints but manages to get into the quarters and shut the door with her hands and claws. Danny is not present. Jack is attempting to enter! Wendy quickly locks herself in the restroom. Jack is now breaking things in the quarters. In the bathroom, Wendy finds some razor blades. She cuts Jack when he uses the mallet to break through. 

He hears a sound at this time that he believes to be Halloran in the snowmobile. He goes to investigate. Wendy exits the restroom and falls asleep on a mattress.

Halloran uses gas and a lighter to fight the hedge lions. He succeeds in climbing on the snowmobile and navigating it to the porch. Running into the hotel, he makes a call to Danny. While waiting on the elevator is Jack. Jack uses the mallet to strike Halloran hard in the head and face as he climbs the stairs. Jack is now ascending to give Danny his “medication” (53.50). Danny is having his first face-to-face encounter with Tony. Tony is shown to be Danny, 10 years from now.

Danny rushes after hearing Jack enter the elevator. He is stranded in a hallway when Jack finds him. The Jack-thing is informed by him that it is not his father. Danny is aware of Jack’s total subjugation by the Overlook. There is still a trace of the previous Jack. He tells Danny that he loves him and to flee from him. Danny kisses Jack’s hand and refuses to flee. Halloran has been found, and Wendy is attempting to wake him. Jack hasn’t been releasing the pressure in the boiler, and Danny informs him of this. In a state of panic, the Jack-thing departs to attend to it. For Wendy and Halloran to escape the Overlook before the boiler blows, Danny is aware that he must locate them. Immediately as Jack descends to the cellar, it does.

Wendy and Danny are carried out of the Overlook by Halloran in his arms. Danny and Halloran manage to get Wendy onto the snowmobile despite her poor condition. The Overlook nearly forces Halloran to kill Danny as he visits the equipment shed to collect blankets for the lengthy journey ahead. Though he struggles, the three manage to flee.

The next summer marks the book’s conclusion. Halloran works at a resort in Maine where Wendy, Danny, and Halloran are present. Danny and Wendy will be relocating to Maryland. At the book’s conclusion, Danny is fishing under “the afternoon sun” with Wendy and Halloran sitting on each side of him.


What is The Shining about?

The Shining is a scary story about a family that stays in a spooky hotel during the winter. Strange things happen, and the dad goes crazy.

Who are the main characters in The Shining?

The main characters are Jack, his wife Wendy, and their son Danny. They are the family staying in the haunted hotel.

What is the “Shining” in the story?

Shining is a special power that Danny, the little boy, has. He can read minds and see the future.

Does The Shining have a happy ending?

No, it’s a scary book, so the ending is not very happy.

About the Author-Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King
Full NameStephen Edwin King
Date of BirthSeptember 21, 1947
Place of BirthPortland, Maine, United States
GenreHorror, suspense, supernatural, fiction
Famous For“The Shining”, “It”, “Carrie”, “The Dark Tower”
Writing StyleCharacter-driven, descriptive, immersive
EducationBachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maine

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