Jack Torrance is a writer and former teacher who is trying to rebuild his and his family's life after his drinking problem and volatile temper lost him his teaching position at a small preparatory school. Having given up alcohol, he accepts a position maintaining a large and isolated hotel (the Overlook) in Colorado for the winter, in the hope this will salvage his family, re-establish his career, and give him the time and privacy to finish a promising play. He moves to the hotel with his wife, Wendy, and young son, Danny, who is telepathic and sensitive to supernatural forces.
A supernatural force residing in the Overlook Hotel takes advantage of Torrance's weaknesses and events in his past (abuse by his father, and of his son, alcohol addiction, etc.) to slowly possess the writer. He spirals downwards and eventually attempts to kill his wife, his son and the hotel's former cook before dying (a matter dealt with differently in the movie and the mini-series, which generally offers Torrance in a manner more closely reflecting the original literary character).
Torrance is regarded as one of Stephen King
's most complex characters. Certain aspects of his fight with alcoholism and his chosen career as a writer are probably inspired by King's own life.