My Analysis of The Shining (Pt. 2)
Part 2: The characters and their evolution; The Torrance family (2/2)
Danny, the silent investigator
To put things in context, Danny is living a hotel far away from everything, which is far from being an optimal environment for a child: he can't make any friends, he's never seen outside without his mother (aside at the end, in the maze) and, obviously, the hotel is not a safe place. At the beginning of the movie, he points out to his mother that he doesn't really have friends, even at their old place.
Danny’s powers allow him to see the true nature of the hotel’s spirits. He can see what happened, what is happening at different locations of the hotel (when he hears his parents’ conversations in other rooms), and what will happen in the future through Tony, who is a vision embodying Danny in the future.
Danny can also be considered as a character that the spectator will want to side with, but I feel his role in the movie is to show us that something is wrong with the hotel and that horrible events happened and will happen again by the end of the story.
Danny's visions are paramount in the conduct of "investigations." He sees flashes of the blood river whenever his father bursts in rage and anger. When Jack comes back from Room 237 and Wendy tells him that they should get Danny away from the hotel, and when Wendy confronts him after reading his manuscript. During these scenes, Danny hears his father’s distorted voice verbally abusing and threatening Wendy.
Danny is able to see the hotel’s spirits taking over his father’s mind. It explains why Danny sees the blood river while hearing his father talking.
1. Halloran's warning not to go in Room 237
Halloran shares similar powers with Danny, he has the “shining.” Even before we see Danny wandering through the hotel’s hallways, the boy reveals to Halloran that he has a bad feeling about Room 237, hence his question “What’s in Room 237?” Halloran is fairly surprised by Danny’s question, as he must wonder how the boy knows about this specific room, and immediately forbids him to ever enter in the room.
Danny can learn things about the past, the present, and the future through visions, in opposition to his father who can project himself in the past and interact with the hotel’s ghosts. The first time he sees the Grady twins in the game room, they don’t say anything, but he can still pick information from them and probably find out about Room 237 at that moment. The Grady twins appear as gloomy and quite frightening, but I believe they’re here to warn Danny about the future possibly awaiting him if the hotel’s spirits get their way.
We learn from DG that his twin daughters tried to burn the hotel—most likely because they found out about the dead lady and wanted to destroy her—but he stopped and killed them. The danger is greater for Danny because he’s younger than them and alone. For the most part through the movie, Danny investigates and witnesses his parents’ actions, but he never tries to actively do something about the hotel’s dangers. That approach can be explained by the fate of the Grady twins. He knows what the hotel’s spirits are capable of doing if he tries anything.
2. Danny's progression in the movie
- He senses something is wrong with the hotel even before the family gets there, but keeps it to himself. He's the character who let us know there is danger ahead.
- After meeting the Grady twins on two occasions—and having a flash of them when he approaches the door of Room 237—he decides not to do anything and just investigate the hotel and the room. He witnesses the bloody events from the past, and through him, we learn that the hotel is haunted.
- He’s lured into entering Room 237 by a yellow ball thrown his way, while playing with his toys, and gets attacked. First of all, we can wonder why Danny chose this exact place to play while he knows Room 237 is dangerous. Danny must either have been unconsciously attracted by whatever is hiding in this room, or he deliberately chose this place to guard and monitor the room. He knows there is definitely something dangerous about the room, as the Grady twins warned him. He is investigating, and the character that allows us to explore the hotel and understand what's going on.
- Tony takes the control after Danny is attacked and picks up a knife to protect himself and his mother from Jack. Danny is traumatized by what happened in Room 237 and loses his innocence; Tony represents an older version of him.
- Danny escapes from his father by tricking him in the maze and flees the hotel with his mother. He breaks free himself from his father, who got corrupted by the hotel's spirits, and escapes death with his mother.
3. The apparent distance between Danny and his father
We only have two scenes in the movie where Jack and Danny are seen interacting together: The scene in the car in which the whole family is going to the going to the hotel, and the scene in the family apartment.
In the car, Danny seems at ease when talking with his father: He tells Jack that he’s hungry and even enquires him about the Donner party to get explanations from him. While in the family apartment scene, Danny freezes when he enters into the flat because realizes his father is awake. He also looks almost terrified during the whole conversation they have after.
Jacks asks Danny if he’s having a good time and insists on how he wants his son to enjoy his stay at the Overlook. Danny then asks if to his father if he feels bad: He noticed a change in his father’s behavior. This question shows us that Danny is seeing a significant change in how his father acts. Jack’s answers to Danny’s question are odd.
Jack: "I’m just tired"
Danny: "Then why don’t you go to sleep"
Jack: "I can’t, I have to much to do."
We only see Wendy acting as a caretaker during the whole movie, proving that Jack is far from being overwhelmed with work.
When Danny asks to his father if he likes the hotel, he actually wants to know if his father feels as bad about the hotel as he does. Danny had a bad feeling about the hotel even before they moved in, as Tony warned him of the dangers awaiting the Torrance family. Jack’s answer must be quite frightening to Danny since he realizes that his father doesn’t see the danger, and even might be under some spell since he says he loves the Overlook. Danny’s feeling is reinforced when Jack repeats the exact sentence the Grady sisters told him: "Forever, and ever, and ever." The hotel already talks through Jack, his father is already lost.
This leads us to Danny’s last question, “You would never hurt me or mommy, would you?” which, by the way, shows us that Danny is very smart for his age and capable of analyzing the situation he’s in. Danny starts to fear for his life and his mother’s, and even thinks, at this point, that they could perish by Jack’s hands. He can sense that his father is under the influence of the hotel’s spirits AND he knows that they’re up to no good.
Jack’s answer is pretty scary since his first reaction is… no reaction. He hesitates a moment before asking if Wendy told him that he would hurt them. Even his way of reassuring Danny, by telling him he would never hurt because he loves him, is actually not reassuring at all.
In the next article => My Analysis of The Shining; Part 3: The characters interactions with the hotel's spirits (2/2)