The Shining (Kubrick's): Jack Torrance is not crazy, Wendy is. Part 2.
I agree with Bob Ager that during the exploration of room 237 by Jack, Jack is actually Danny. This is due to the fact that Danny is abused sexually by his mother that his representation of the event shows him under his father’s features. In the kid’s mind, only his father can have that kind of interaction with his mother, so he’s now confused. This strange way of approaching storytelling is more visible once you’ve thought of it. Jack’s visit of room 237 actually starts with shots both of Danny and Hallorann panicked faces. These are followed by a long subjective shot that avoids the identification of the person who’s visiting the room.
From that moment on, when Jack appears in the movie as Wendy’s lover, there’s a chance it might actually be Danny.
Tragically, when he comes back from room 237, Jack states that he saw nothing and comes to the conclusion that Danny hurt himself on his own.
During this conversation Danny reacts several times. He is shocked when his father fails to realise that there’s a culprit to find and to the idea of leaving the Overlook.
Again, this reaction is impossible to understand through the most common interpretation. Why would Danny be horrified at the idea of leaving the Overlook at this point ?
Outside the metaphor of the Overlook, the fact that Jack shouldn’t find anything in the room 237 represents Jack’s entering a state of denial. Danny is convinced that his dad should see and understand what’s going on, but Jack doesn’t have the strength to admit it.
As a consequence, Danny becomes convinced that Jack plans on punishing him and Wendy, hence Jack’s return to the Gold Room and his discussion with Grady. Both Jack’s visits there are marked by an absence of first names. “Jack,” “Danny” and “Wendy” do not exist there because Danny is losing touch with generational bounds.
And then the movie reaches the moment at which the maniac of the overlook goes for murder: When Wendy takes the baseball bat to pay her husband a visit.
The scene where she picks up the baseball bat was removed from the European version but it’s one of the two ones in which Danny and Wendy are together and it’s clear that the kid doesn’t speak to her anymore since room 237. Also, why would she take the bat ?
I find it very suspicious that Wendy should say that Danny told her a crazy woman attacked him, when clearly the kid doesn’t say anything anymore and we’re not allowed to witness him give the explanation. My point being that Wendy perfectly knows, somewhere in her deranged mind, that there isn’t anybody but them in the hotel and that Jack didn’t do anything. Still, she takes the baseball bat.
Also, Jack never hit her. Jack isn’t a particularly violent man (in the movie). But she takes the baseball bat. Why ? Because he pointed a finger at her. How dared he ? Monster !
So, Wendy discovers that writer’s block can make you write silly things on a piece of paper** and she decides that it makes Jack a murderous maniac who should be threatened with a baseball bat. Jack tries to explain her the misery of his situation, his future, his ambitions, his responsibilities, just like the day before, but she still doesn’t care one bit. Her answer: “Don’t come any closer.” In the 20th century, that’s what happened to a man who didn’t want to work as a slave in order to bring money for his jobless wife. She’d wave a baseball bat at him and fancy that he’s the dangerous maniac.
**I'm partially joking here. On the one hand I don't think writing the same sentence on many pages when you're uninspired is that big of a deal, but also, as this is Danny's perception, in reality the book is probably written. It's just Danny's annoyance at his Dad writing the book instead of spending time with him that makes him fantasize that the book is just "All work and no play make Jack a Dull Boy." Also, there are many typos on the sheets of papers and a few reads "make Jack a dult Boy." Again Jack and Danny have their identities mixed, the adult boy is the one abused by his mother because the other one toys with his typewriter.
On this picture, Wendy and Danny looks approximately the same height, because of the lighting, it's easy to miss the fact that Wendy is on her knees, while Jack looks like a little boy. Again, all this is in Dann'y's mind. He doesn't know how to consider himself and his father anymore.
Eventually, he takes the baseball bat from her and beats the cr… ho sorry no. She lures him at the top of a flight of stairs, destroys his hand when he tries to catch the weapon she’s threatening him with, and then she strikes him right on the skull. He falls down the stairs. She panics and calls an ambulance… sorry no. She doesn’t panic and drags him to the storehouse where she locks him up after having had all the time in the world to notice the blood on his head, his rolled back eyes, the drool at the corner of his mouth and to hear him moan in pain. Ho, and he is unconscious by the way…
…and here is The Shining at its funniest. I’ve just watched a woman assault a man for no reason but her own hysteria and self-centeredness. The guy is literally dying right in front of her and she’s not doing anything, but I am thinking: “She has to hurry because he is waking up.”
“I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to shoot you because the minute I started pointing a gun at you, you became aggressive.”
Wendy locking up Jack in the storeroom is your horribly cliché 70s, 80s, situation of a woman locking her husband in a room of the house while she takes the kids and leaves. Because she knows she’ll get the custody whatever she does so why bother treating the man like a human being once he’s not useful to her anymore ? Jack saw it coming and destroyed the engine of the tracked car.
Again, this is extremely funny because we spectators, understand it as the ultimate confirmation that Jack wanted to kill Wendy and Danny and thus took an initiative to prevent their escape.
The jump between “Jack is forbidding Wendy and Danny to leave the place” and “Jack wants to kill Wendy and Danny” is made without a second thought. It’s normal, why wouldn’t he want to kill them ? Of course he wants to kill them, we heard Grady’s story.
Her desire to leave the Overlook means that Wendy is tired of Jack’s period of unemployment. She wants him to find a new job, he wants to finish his book. She tries to make him give up, he doesn’t. It’s time to leave with the kid. Listening to what he has to say ? Never. Taking his distress into account ? “Get back or I’ll hit you !“
JACK - Does it matter to you at all that the owners have placed their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have signed a letter of agreement, a contract, in which I have accepted that responsibility? Do you have the slightest idea what a moral and ethical principle is, do you? Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? Has it?!
WENDY - Stay away from me ! I just want to go back to my room. I didn't want you to explain to me why you're upset and give me reasonable reasons ! I want you to be the bad guy ! I am the victim ! I'm your wife ! I'm the one who comfortably stays at home all day while your slaving in a shit job. How dare you expect any kind of compassion from me ! I cook meals for you !
The fact that Danny should never voice his desire to leave the place is quite suspicious. Of course, he clearly says that he doesn’t want to go at the beginning of the movie, but the bruise story, the need to see a doctor and the desire to leave all are initiatives taken by Wendy.
In another deleted scene from the European version, prior to the baseball bat aggression, she explains Danny that she’s going to go and talk to his dad and that he should just keep watching the cartoons. She doesn’t say “I’m going to talk to dad about bringing you to a doctor” or “about leaving the hotel for a few days.” The kid simply doesn’t know anything about her plans. It’s important because what makes Jack so furious is that she’s using a fake benevolence for the kid in order to manipulate him.
It might seem insignificant, but it’s actually extremely revealing that Wendy shouldn’t be shown asking Danny what he’d think of leaving the hotel and if he wants to see a doctor. We’ve seen his face when he hears her talk about it to Jack (he’s terrified), so how come she’s not aware in that scene that Danny doesn’t want to go ? Because she didn’t ask, because she doesn’t care, because she simply uses Danny to have her way with his dad.
Also, once she’s abused the kid once, she never does it again. She’s seen smoking her cigarette in every following scene with the child. She still is frustrated sexually, she’s not attracted to kids, she only did what she did in order to have more control over Danny. At the beginning of the movie, there’s a poster on which we can read the word “Monarch.” Monarch was a CIA secret mind control program that stopped in 1973. Its existence was revealed to the public in 1975. There would be a lot to say about Monarch and the characters’ behaviours in The Shining but that’s another story. The sole thing I want to use about this here is that abusing someone sexually in order to break them psychologically, trauma-based manipulation, is exactly the kind of shit that are in-keeping with monarch.
And so, we reach the moment when Jack comes back home with an axe.
“Coming back home” means that Danny understands that Jack is not in “work mode,” the problem is that, at this point the kid is terrified by his real dad because of what happened with his mother. Wendy won, there’s no way Jack can now go near his son.
The kid takes a knife, writes “redrum” on a door and repeats the words with his creepy voice until he wakes her up.
We’re witnessing an oedipal crisis. Danny was forced into his father’s place and firmly believes his father would kill him if he knew about it. The sole solution for him is to kill his own father. “Redrum” is the murder of the father. The letters are reversed because the father is linked to language so language becomes chaotic, and also the kid wants to kill the one to whom he owes his life (inversion).
Also, his waving the knife around while the mother is asleep is sexual. Danny’s calling of Dick Hallorann, DICK, might be an initiative taken in order to become compatible with his mother and thus a real rival of his dad. Of course, he was traumatized and destroyed by what he went through in room 237, but abused kids just accept their fate.
Writing with his mother's lipstick too is sexual. It's her "lips" that command the father's murder. Again, birth as a crime.
Jack’s completely delirious lines “honey, I’m home,” his allusion to The Three Little Pigs and the big bad wolf, and his ridiculous attitude are is just the result of Danny being terrified by his father when what’s happening with Jack isn’t that threatening in real life. (Also, the big bad wolf = the male libido).
The axe, I don’t know what the axe truly is, but what Jack actually does is very healthily cut the very morbid bond that Wendy created with Danny. Jack reasserts his position in the family.
By attacking them, the father prevents the incestuous act to be performed in the bedroom. He reinstates sexual barriers and structure. Unfortunately, Wendy flees into the bathroom.
The bathroom is the mother’s uterus**. If Wendy had stayed in the bedroom, admitting that she was wrong, everything would have been sorted out. Fleeing again, forces Danny from wondering who is his father (if he’s his own mother’s lover) to how was he conceived.
**(I'll allow myself to be axiomatic for that one, I'll probably make a point about this in my clues of a subtext)
“Here’s Johnny”, like Dick Hallorann, is another allusion to the male sex. Jack cuts a vagina into the door. Again, he healthily forces the truth on both Wendy and Danny. And again, Wendy messes everything up by pushing Danny outside through the window. Thanks to Jack, Danny has to realize that Wendy is a woman and his mother, her breasts prevent her from fleeing.
But the poor kid is left outside, in the snow and in the dark, in the place before birth and he’s still convinced that his dad is the bad guy.
Jack tries to penetrate the bathroom. In reality, he is trying to force himself on Wendy. It’s a bit weird. He’s not trying to rape her, it’s some sort of primitive “you’re my woman” that is going on. Wendy cuts his hand/she rejects him/she emasculates him. It’s over between them.
So, it’s only Danny who is convinced that his dad is going to kill him or his mother. In reality, it’s only a family sadly collapsing on itself.
As he doesn’t know what’s going on, the boy decides to intervene, as a man, as the man of his mother. That’s Hallorann entering the Overlook. In reality, Danny most probably runs at his father, strikes him with all the strength of his little fists and Jack just grabs his arms and stops him very easily. Hallorann/Danny’s manliness dies. And Danny reappears in the Overlook as Danny.
Isn’t it a wonderful coincidence that the son should have been hidden like ten meters away from where Hallorann is killed ? Hallorann is a part of Danny’s psyche that which means that when Jack hears Hallorann calling, it’s truly Danny’s voice that attracts his attention.
Jack runs after his son, outside, in the cold realm of the mother. Jack goes through vaginal doors and spots Danny hidden behind the tracked car. That’s what Wendy is now: loneliness, a desire to leave and the meanders of her sick brain.
Jack and Danny enter the labyrinth and the scene summarizes the story pretty well.
Since he’s broken Danny’s arm, Jack has been trying to catch his kid while, at the same time, save his own life, finding a new job and maybe leaving Wendy. At the beginning of the movie we witness him seriously looking at other women.
But Wendy transformed this into a fight to death and what Jack didn’t know is that she was the one controlling the game, the structure of the family, the walls of hedges, having Danny take a stroll in the labyrinth, having Danny watch Bip Bip and Coyote.
Again, while he’s chasing Danny, Jack never threatens his kid of anything: “I’m going to catch you” is the worst he says. The truth is that if Jack caught Danny, he would drop the axe and take him in his arms and at this point Danny would be reassured because he'd be convinced that he's done the worst, that his father knows it and that he forgives him and therefore truly loves him deeply.
But Danny is completely confused and terrified and so he runs away entirely and disappears. Wendy won. Jack has no reason to live anymore, loneliness kills him.
When they take the road with the tracked car, Wendy and Danny pass by a road sign that Bob Ager describes as a doublecross. Wendy and Danny betrayed Jack. More important, the vehicle is swallowed by a wall of fog, their future isn’t bright, it’s sinister, gloomy.
In Doctor Sleep, Danny is obsessed with not hurting anybody. He failed at learning what he was trying to learn from his father.
In Doctor Sleep, Danny tries to go back on his father’s footsteps. He’s not convinced that the guy was the vilain in the end.
In Doctor Sleep, there's a lot of creepy stuff that resembles metaphor for sexual abuse and clear allusions to it.
In Doctor Sleep, we learn that Wendy died of a mysterious disease when Danny was 20. He couldn’t do anything to appease her because the flies blocked everything between them. Aren’t the flies associated with monsters and evil in The Green Mile ?
In Doctor Sleep, Danny goes back to the overlook and ends his life in the boiler room, surrounded by fire, facing the ghost of his mother. He ends his life at the place where his mother was when he entered the room 237. Of course, it would be easy to interpret that as: he wished he had been next to her instead of entering the room that destroyed his life.
But I’ll obviously interpret it according to what I’ve been saying in this article: By raping him, she captured his mind and he never recovered. The ring of fire around them is the morbid love in which he is imprisoned. Danny still thinks he should have been his mother’s man. The boiler is still a metaphor for… something.