In chapter 44 of The Shining, why does Grady claim not to have murdered his wife and daughters and have no recollection of Mr Ullman while talking to Jack at Derwent's party, but later says he "corrected" (murdered) them?

Jack: “Weren’t you once the caretaker here? When you … when …”
Grady: “Why no, sir. I don’t believe so.” Jack: “But your wife … your daughters …”
Grady: “My wife is helping in the kitchen, sir. The girls are asleep, of course. It’s much too late for them.”
Jack: “You were the caretaker. You—You killed them.”
Grady: “I don’t have any recollection of that at all, sir.”
Jack: “But you—”
Grady: “You’re the caretaker, sir, you’ve always been the caretaker. I should know, sir. I’ve always been here. The same manager hired us both, at the same time.
Jack: “Mr. Ullman—”
Grady: “I know no one by that name, sir.”
Jack: “But he—”
Grady: “The manager, the hotel, sir. Surely you realize who hired you, sir.”

Who is the manager if not Ullman? I'm very confused.

2 Answers 2


This is a personal opinion rather than something I can reference, but to me the key to understanding this passage is this line:

You’re the caretaker, sir, you’ve always been the caretaker. I should know, sir. I’ve always been here. The same manager hired us both, at the same time

When you unpick this, it's far more startling than Grady's claim not to have killed his family or to know the manager. He's saying Jack has always (as in, forever) been the caretaker, and that he, Grady, has too. Furthermore that the same mysterious "manager" - who by context cannot be Ullman - hired them both.

There's no concrete interpretation of this passage. But what it suggests to me is an invocation of the timeless evil of male selfishness and privilege. Both Jack and Grady are failed men in the sense that they cannot live up to their responsibilities and then, instead of seeking to make the situation better, take out their frustrations violently on their families.

A more literal interpretation, which is hinted at in the passage, is that the mysterious hiring manager is the devil and that the hotel is a route to hell. Another way of reading it is that the wicked men "hired" themselves - they took themselves to the hotel as a last chance to save the situation, knowing, deep in themselves, that they would fail due to their character flaws.

As for Grady's claim not to have murdered his children, this is explained by the other passage you've already noted. Grady self-justifies his actions as not "murder" or "killing" but necessary "correction", so he refers to them in the same language. Self-justification by blaming others is a common motif in domestic violence. Think of all the men who claim "she made me do it" in reference to supposed nagging (which, they are unable to see, was often prompted by their own shortcomings in the first place).


A common motif in King's work is the attribution of mind to non-living beings. (For example, in the story 1408, one of my favourites, the room itself is evil and attempts to harm the protagonist.) When Grady says

The manager, the hotel, sir.

he's hinting at the answer: the hotel itself has hired him as its "caretaker", a human body to bond with and cause harm. Ullman, being there only in the tourist season, is unaware of the hotel's true nature.

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