A Contradiction in Stephen King’s IT

There is a contradiction in Stephen King’s IT!  And I’m not talking about some of the things that I’ve considered to be tensions—such as IT interacting with adults throughout Derry’s history, yet focusing his energies on scaring and eating children in the 1950’s and the 1980’s.  Those sorts of things can perhaps be harmonized, or one can say that they’re a mystery, since even the characters of the book are struggling to figure IT out.  What I’m talking about here is a contradiction.

On page 329, Richie Tozier’s parents are said to be Methodists, and the passage says that Richie attends the Tuesday night Methodist Youth Fellowship.  The point of this passage is that Richie believes in weird things, because there are weird things in the Bible.  And what is humorous about this passage is how Richie mangles the Bible (“When Jesus asked the guy who had them what his name was, the demons answered and told Him to go join the Foreign Legion”), while presenting himself as an expert on it.  So page 329 says that Richie and his parents are Methodists.

On pages 959-960, however, Richie is said to be a Catholic.  Richie is teasing Stan (not in a malicious sort of way) for being Jewish and for the Jews’ dietary laws, and Eddie asks Richie how he’d feel if he were teased for being a Catholic.  Stan also points out that Richie has his own dietary rules, for he cannot eat meat on Friday.  This passage has discussion and reflections about such issues as communion.  (For example, Eddie heard a story from his Sunday School teacher about a kid who threw a communion wafer into the toilet, and the toilet water became bright red with the blood of Christ.)

In both of these passages, only Richie can play the role that he does.  On the page 329 passage, I can’t picture Beverly or Eddie or Stan or Ben being know-it-alls on the Bible.  Ben would probably have a common-sense engineer approach to religion, the way that my brother (who has an engineering degree from Purdue) has.  But I can picture only Richie being a know-it-all on religion, or acting like he knew things that he only knew incompletely.  Regarding the passage on pages 959-960, only Richie could play that role, for Richie is the only one who teases people with his humor, and who gets rebuked for it by other members of the Losers’ Club.  So it would make sense that Richie would make fun of Stan’s religion, and someone would then tell Richie that he shouldn’t talk, for his religion has things that would strike some outsiders as oddities.

I guess that I shouldn’t expect total consistency in a book that is over a thousand pages!  I do, however, like for the universe that I encounter in a book to be consistent, for that makes it look more real.  In terms of which passage Stephen King should have kept, both are good passages.  I think that the first one was a little more integral to the story, for that was when Richie convinced Bill that Georgie’s death was not Bill’s fault, and that dovetailed into Richie and Bill going into Georgie’s room to see the photograph of Georgie that winked at Bill.  I suppose that scene could have worked without the religion part, but I happen to like how Stephen King incorporates religion into his works.

UPDATE: This site identifies that and other contradictions.  I didn’t check all of them to see if they’re contradictions, nor do I really intend to, at least not anytime soon.  But I’m posting the link in case you want to check it out, and for my future reference.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to A Contradiction in Stephen King’s IT

  1. Bridget says:

    Ahh, that has always bothered me! I was actually mentioning that contradiction to my boyfriend today, who is about 400 pages in (so he wouldn’t have seen where they say he’s Catholic). I’m not sure if I want to look at the other contradictions because I want to continue to enjoy the book as much as I do…have they lessened your enjoyment at all?

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  2. James Pate says:

    I’m almost through with the book, so those contradictions can’t do much damage now!:D But I’d say there’s a lot of good stuff in there, notwithstanding the contradictions. And so many of the contradictions completely missed my radar.

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