House - Chapters 3 - 5 Summary & Analysis

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Chapters 3 - 5 Summary

In Chapter 3, Jack and Stephanie travel on the dirt road for nearly two hours. The only sign they have seen is one for a hotel called the Wayside Inn. Just after Jack suggests they stay there the night, his car hits something metallic in the road. The car slides sideways and tips to the passenger's side, the crashes to a stop. All four tires are flat. When they look, the two see that they have hit a spike strip.

Jack decides they need to walk to the inn. They leave their car and walk nearly two miles to the inn. Stephanie is so happy she almost cries when she sees how beautiful the house is. A note on the door instructs them to sign in at the front desk. Stephanie feels grungy and out of place in the beautiful house. She feels even more so when she and Jack are confronted with two other guests. As they talk, the two couples learn they both had their tires slashed. Stephanie notices the table in the dining room is set for four. Randy fills a glass with tea and drinks, even though Leslie tells him not to. As Stephanie realizes this couple has troubles of their own, the lights suddenly go out. With the help of Stephanie's lighter, Randy finds an oil lamp and matches to aid in the search for candles or flashlights. Jack hears something high pitched. The others try to convince him it is only the noise of an old house, but he insists he hears a child singing. The others hear the sound also. Randy breaks the revere and herds them into the kitchen to look for fuse boxes or breaker panels. Randy directs Stephanie to check out the pantry. As she is investigating, a light comes on. A voice asks what she is doing in the pantry.

In Chapter 4, Stephanie's scream scares the woman, who says she thought Stephanie was "him." Then she goes about instructing the guests to help her get dinner on the table. Randy asks about the power outage and the woman replies they only occur when they have guests. Although the four try to introduce themselves and make small talk, the woman is strictly business. She does finally introduce herself as Betty. She instructs Jack to get chairs out of the hall closet, and then yells at him when he almost accidently opens the door to the basement.

As the guests add the extra chairs, place setting and food to the table, it becomes crowded. The silverware and glasses don't match. When Leslie returns to the table with a basket of rolls, she is shocked to find a man sitting there. The man, who indicates he is the woman's son, appears to be mildly retarded. He looks down Leslie's shirt with no qualms. He also points out a cut on her hand. Leslie doesn't know where the cut might have come from. Another strange man accosts Randy as he washes up in a downstairs bathroom.

In Chapter 5, Stewart joins the others at the dinner table. Jack and Randy again try to elicit some help for their situation. Those who own the house don't seem to be concerned with their predicament. As the conversation becomes more and more uncontrolled, the group at the table becomes tense. Suddenly the food doesn't taste as good. When Jack and his group look at the meat, they see there are maggots crawling on it. Leslie and Randy try to leave the table and go to their room, but Stewart yells at them to sit down. Betty taunts Stephanie with ice and she runs from the room. Jack follows her to comfort her. Betty, Stewart and Pete follow them to the living room. Stephanie tries to run from the house but stops when she sees a huge man carrying a shotgun walking up to the house. Betty tells her to get back in the house.

Chapters 3 - 5 Analysis

It is in this section of the novel that the story becomes very strange. Stephanie and Jack join another couple at what appears to be a beautiful inn. There are, however, no owners or operators present. The people who Jack, Stephanie, Leslie and Randy assume are the owners of the inn are the opposite of the type of people they expected to be in charge of such a place. The house is beautiful and impeccably kept. Betty, Stewart and Pete are hicks at best. They are dirty and rude.

Notice in this section that Betty keeps speaking of a "him" whom she expects to see. When Stephanie first interrupts Betty in the pantry, Betty tells Stephanie she is scared because she thought it was "him." Betty also tells the guests that it was "he" who put the spike strips in the road. It is not until the end of the fifth chapter that Stephanie, Jack, Leslie and Randy see "him" when they see a man, wearing a trench coat and wielding a shotgun, walking up the front walk. Betty orders everyone back in the house.

Notice also in this section of the novel that each character seems to have a weakness that the other characters, particularly Betty, Stewart and Pete hone in on. For Stephanie, this weakness seems to be ice as she quickly reaches her breaking point when Betty torments her with an ice cube. Leslie is tormented, especially by Betty and Pete, by the fact that she is unmarried but sleeping with a man. Pete seems to be infatuated with Leslie and asks her to be his wife. She refuses, saying she is already taken. Randy seems to have a fear of bullies, or anyone who appears to be stronger than he. He seems to feel the need to impress others with his strength and composure, yet he is quickly irritated, frustrated and frightened by anyone or anything that is threatening. Finally, Jack is tormented by the idea that his wife is leaving him. That she is no longer interested in him and there is nothing that he can do about it.

At this point, the tone of the novel is tense and its purpose unclear. The reader, as well as the characters, aren't sure what is happening. It is sure, however, that there is something less than natural going on as the food on the table rots and is overtaken by maggots even as the diners try to eat it. There is also no sign of anyone else in the house until the lights go out. When the inbreds appear, the circumstances of the hotel begin to seem very strange. Randy, who is in the hotel business, doesn't understand how such backward people can keep such a beautiful house. He is also offended that the silverware and glasses added to the table don't match the utensils that were already there.

This section contains 1,149 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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