Student Question

Who is the antagonist of It?

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The antagonist of It is a mysterious and malevolent being known as "It" that uses its shape-shifting abilities and other powers to terrorize the children of Derry, Maine. The most common form It takes is of a clown named Pennywise, and It feeds upon people's fears.

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Stephen King's It is named after its primary antagonist. A creature of ancient evil, "It" is able to take on different forms, and throughout much of the novel, It appears in the guise of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Because they don't initially know the monster's real identity, the main characters choose the name of "It."

It actually comes from another part of the universe, emerging from a mysterious void in a place known as the Macroverse. It came to Earth by means of an asteroid that landed in Native American territory long before the colonial settlement of Maine. It sleeps for twenty-seven years at a time, and when It wakes, it seeks to feed. What It feeds on is people's fear.

The first half of the novel takes place in what has become the town of Derry, Maine, in 1957. That summer, the creature takes on different forms, committing murder and other acts of violence and terror, targeting the town's children. One specific group of children, who call themselves The Losers Club, take notice of It's activities and fight against It throughout the novel. While It's most common form is Pennywise the Dancing Clown, also known as Mr. Bob Gray, It also appears as a mummy, a zombie-like leper, the ghost of one of the children It killed, a giant spider, a monstrous bird, a fountain of blood, Frankenstein's monster, and more. Its true form is a mass of mysterious, powerful lights called "Deadlights."

A strong theme in the novel is a loss of innocence and found family. It chooses to feed primarily on children because they are the most vulnerable and afraid; with their wild imaginations, there are many guises the creature can take to frighten them. The Losers Club lose loved ones, cope with trauma, and experience a number of horrors, but when they unify together, they are able to triumph. Their initial victory as children turns out to be short-lived, and having moved away and grown apart as adults, they return to Derry twenty-seven years later to finally defeat It.

In the atrocities that It commits, very real fears are also harnessed: acts of racial violence, domestic violence, the death of family and friends, disease, and bullying, among others. In that way, It is fear itself, an antagonist common not just to novels but human existence. Although its takes rituals and some help from another creature from the Macroverse to finally defeat Itan ancient turtle named Maturin who claims to have created the worldthis horror novel ultimately hinges around a highly symbolic antagonist. It is able to be defeated through the combined efforts of friends who love each other, endure trauma together, and would ultimately die for each other and the good of their community.

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