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Fictional character biographyEdit
"It" apparently originated in a void containing and surrounding the universe, a place referred to in the novel as the "Macroverse" (a concept similarTemplate:Or to the later established Todash Darkness of The Dark Tower series). Its most commonly-used name is Bob Gray or Pennywise (although at several points in the novel, It claims its true name to be Robert Gray) and is christened "It" by the group of children who later confront It. Likewise, It's true form is never truly comprehended. Its favorite form is that of a clown (with fangs and large claws when it stalks a child) known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and its final form in the physical realm is that of an enormous spider, but even this is only the closest the human mind can get to approximating It's actual physical form. Its natural form exists in a realm beyond the physical, which It calls the "deadlights." Bill comes dangerously close to seeing the deadlights, but successfully defeats It before this happens, though during their first confrontation with It, Ben believes that he nearly sees It's true form, and nearly panics as a result. As such, the deadlights are never seen and It's true form outside the physical realm is never revealed, only described as writhing, destructive orange lights. Coming face to face with the deadlights drives any living being instantly insane (a common H. P. Lovecraft device). The only known person to face the deadlights and survive is Bill's wife, Audra Phillips, whose encounter with the deadlights nevertheless renders her temporarily catatonic.
Its natural enemy is "The Turtle," another ancient Macroverse dweller resembling a God-like deity, who, eons ago, created our universe, and possibly others. The Turtle shows up again in King's series The Dark Tower. The book suggests that It, along with the Turtle, are themselves creations of a separate, omnipotent creator referred to as "The Other". The Turtle and It are eternal enemies (creation vs. consumption). It arrived in our world in a massive, cataclysmic event similar to an asteroid impact, in the place that would, in time, become Derry, Maine, where it waited for humanity to appear.
Its power is apparently quite vast; during the second Ritual of Chüd, It offers the Losers money, power, and supernatural lifespans if they spare It. Of course, It could merely have been bluffing in order to save Itself.
Through the novel, some events are described through It's point of view, through which It describes Itself as the "superior" being, with the Turtle as someone "close to his superiority" and humans as mere "toys." It describes that It prefers to kill and devour children, not by nature, but rather because the fears of children are easier to interpret in a physical form and thus children are easier to fill with terror, which It says is akin to "salt(ing) the meat". It is continuously surprised by the children's victories and near the end, It begins to wonder if It perhaps isn't as superior as It had once thought. However, It never believes that the individual children are strong enough to defeat It; though It suspects the presence of "The Other" working through them as a group, It dismisses the possibility — an error which proves fatal.
For millions of years, It dwelt under Derry, awaiting the arrival of humans, which It somehow knew would occur. Once people settled over Its dwelling place, It adopted a cycle of hibernating for long periods and waking approximately every 25 to 30 years. Its waking spells are marked by extraordinary violence, which is inexplicably overlooked or outright forgotten by those who witness It. Its awakening and return to hibernation mark the greatest instances of violence during Its time awake.
- 1715–1716: It awoke.
- 1740–1743: It awoke and started a three-year reign of terror that culminated with the disappearance of over 300 settlers from Derry Township, much like the Roanoke Island mystery.
- 1769–1770: It awoke.
- 1851: It awoke when a man named John Markson poisoned his family, then committed suicide by eating a white-nightshade mushroom, causing an excruciating death.
- 1876–1879: It awoke, then went back into hibernation after a group of lumberjacks were found murdered near the Kenduskeag.
- 1904–1906: It awoke when a lumberjack named Claude Heroux murdered a number of men in a bar with an axe. In a possible self-insertion, one of the victims is Eddie King, a possible reference to Stephen King himself, whose middle name is Edwin. In the novel, the unfortunate King is hacked into a number of pieces, an even more gruesome death than his fellow victims of Heroux. Heroux was promptly pursued by a mob of townsfolk and hanged. It returned to hibernation when the Kitchener Ironworks exploded, killing 108 people, 88 of them being children who were engaged in an Easter egg hunt.
- 1929–1930: It awoke when a group of Derry citizens gunned down a group of gangsters known as the Bradley Gang. It returned to hibernation when the Maine Legion of White Decency, a Northern counterpart to the Ku Klux Klan, burned down an African-American army nightclub which was called "The Black Spot." One of the survivors, Dick Halloran, appeared in King's earlier novel, The Shining.
- 1957–1958: It awoke during a great storm which flooded part of the city, and murdered George Denbrough. It then met its match when the Losers forced It to return to an early hibernation when wounded by the young Bill Denbrough in the first Ritual of Chüd.
- 1984–1985: It awoke when three young homophobic bullies beat up a young gay couple, Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty, throwing Mellon off a bridge resulting in It killing Mellon, (which echoed real life events in Maine). It was finally "destroyed" in the second Ritual of Chüd by the adult Bill Denbrough, Richie Tozier, Beverly Marsh, Eddie Kaspbrak and Ben Hanscom.
In the intervening periods between each pair of events, a series of child murders occur, which are never solved. The book's surface explanation as to why these murders are never reported on the national news is that location matters to a news story — a series of murders, no matter how gruesome, doesn't get reported if they happen in a small town. However, the book's implied reason for why the atrocities go unnoticed is far more sinister: It won't allow them to be. In fact, It's power over the town is so absolute that It's death in the second Ritual of Chüd causes an enormous storm that damages the downtown part of Derry.
Although It is seemingly defeated by the novel's end, there are hints in King's later works that It is still alive. Furthermore, It is revealed to be female close to the end of the novel and had laid eggs shortly before its defeat. Whether or not every egg has been destroyed is never completely resolved.
In the novel, It's "Pennywise the Dancing Clown" form is described as resembling a combination of Bozo, Clarabell, and Ronald McDonald. When The Losers Club enters Its lair, It appears in the form of a giant spider. Its real appearance is "the deadlights", an orange light that if someone looks at long enough, they die.
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