House - Chapters 21 - 23 Summary & Analysis

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Chapters 21 - 23 Summary

In Chapter 21, blinded by her anger, Stephanie wanders around the basement searching for Jack and Randy. She walks through an open door, which is blown shut behind her, then another, which also blows shut. It is at this point that she runs.

In their pain and fear, Leslie and Jack find themselves drawn to one another. Randy catches Leslie and Jack in each other's arms. Leslie tries to explain to Randy that she was violated by Pete, but he only attacks her, saying that most of the population has some excuse to live like a victim. Randy tells her that while she did not triumph over her Uncle Robbie, he has killed Stewart. Stephanie interrupts them when she runs through the open door in the room. This door slams shut behind her. As the group begins to fight among themselves, Jack suggests they save fighting for the next day and for now concentrate on how to escape from the basement.

In Chapter 22, the group tries to make sense of what they have experience while in the house. They believe the house may have been part of a mining operation or part of the underground railroad for it to have such a strange basement. Stephanie suggests the oddities may even be caused by a mass grave on the property. They determine for sure that White is manipulating them. As they try to devise a plan to get out, Jack tells them they cannot leave without Susan. Although Leslie agrees with him, Randy is dead set against wasting time looking for Susan and believes if they do so, they will only be doing what White wants them to do. Randy tries to make a rash decision to get out of the house using the gun to blow the locks on the door, Jack stops him and tries to make him think about the possibility they might be dealing with a haunted house.

In Chapter 23, Randy leads the others back to the room where he believes that he killed Stewart. Unfortunately, the door that leads to the room where Randy found the old shotgun is locked, but he blows the door open with the gun. Just as they are about to reach the door to the outside, Jack informs Randy that he will not leave without at least looking for Susan. They hear a noise and see Betty. Although Randy discourages him, Jack insists on going back. Leslie goes with him.

Stephanie suggests to Randy that they go and leave the other two. Although Randy considers the idea, he decides they should give them the minute that he allowed. Just at the time, a door behind them opens and Pete grabs Stephanie. Randy cannot shoot because Stephanie is in the way. Randy heads out after Pete. He finds them in Pete's room where Pete is trying to convince Stephanie to eat the dog food. Randy shoots Pete twice. They run back toward the exit.

When Randy enters the hallway with the exit, the man with the tin mask is standing there. Stephanie has fallen behind and does not see the man. Tin Man tells Randy that he will win the game because he is like the Tin Man. He tells Randy that Jack is planning to kill him, and that he must kill "her." When Stephanie finally catches up with Randy, the Tin Man is gone, but she thinks that he look different. The two go back to the exit door, which is still locked. Leslie and Jack are nowhere in sight. Randy blows the lock off the door and drags Stephanie through. Only, they aren't outside—they are back in the boiler room.

Chapters 21 - 23 Analysis

It is in this section of the novel that Stephanie realizes the truth about her own personality. She realizes that she is willing to do what others want her to do at the cost of denying her own principles. In this case, she eats some of Pete's dog food because she would do anything to keep him from hurting her. Although the food she has eaten tasted bad, it seemed to have some sort of drug-like effect that gave her ripples of pleasure. This feeling that Stephanie gets from the dog food is similar to sin, in that these wicked acts often do not seem like they are a good idea but have some ability to make the sinner feel good, an emotion that disguises how bad the sin actually is. Stephanie realizes what she has done, however, and the idea makes her sick.

Meanwhile, Randy seems to be getting braver and braver in his surroundings. Actually, his bravery might be better described as trigger-happiness. It appears that the gun he holds is giving him a certain amount of courage. He is beginning to have inner thoughts that suggest he might be the one to provide the dead body for White. In fact, when Randy is confronted by White in the hallway, White tells Randy that he and Randy are the same type of man. It is because of their similarities, White says, that Randy will win White's game. Note, however, that when White tells Randy he must kill "her" White does not tell Randy who "she" is. Randy assumes that "she" is Stephanie. However, it could also be that this person whom White wants Randy to kill is Susan.

In this section, the group is also divided on how it should handle Susan. Jack and Leslie have both been rescued by the girl so they believe they owe it to her to go back and try to save her. Jack's feeling of allegiance to Susan is even stronger than Leslie's because he connects her so strongly with his daughter, Melissa. Randy and Stephanie, however, do not believe they should risk their own lives for Susan. They are both very selfish in the belief that they should try to get out alive while they have the opportunity. To their disappointment, however, the two wind up in the boiler room when they try to make a final escape from the house.

This section contains 1,022 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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