Childhood is a crucial time in everyone’s life, as it affects the decisions they make later on. In fact in some cases, our childhood determines who we are, or whom we’ll become in the future. A child’s childhood must be kept innocent and pure for the well being of the their future. The recurring theme in Heather O’Neill’s Lullabies for Little Criminals, is the loss of innocence at a young age, led by the choices and decisions of the characters, and this theme can be connected back to the novel itself, Alden Nowlan’s short story, The Fall of a City, and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
Heather O’Neill demonstrates how the main character, Baby, losing her innocence at such a young age, resulted from the choices she made, and the choices the people surrounding her made as well. Baby grew up in the poor parts of Montreal, and she was constantly exposed to many bad influences. Her father, Jules, is an inadequate father with a heroin addiction. For example: “She had died a year later, so he’d been left to raise me all by himself. It didn’t make him any more mature than any other twenty-six year old, though. (O’Neill 4) This quotation demonstrates how Jules, even though he chose to take care of Baby even after her mother died, he is still rebellious, as every other young male. Jules resorts to drugs, specifically heroin. Baby is constantly exposed to this. She mentions how she knows that Jules means heroin, when he uses the code word “chocolate milk. ” This goes to show how Baby’s innocence is being taken away from her at a young age, because her father, unintentionally surrounds her with negative influences.
Baby is exposed to many bad influences, and she chooses to hang out with a pimp named Alphonse. Baby knows that he is a pimp, and that she will have to eventually start prostituting. Prostitution is generally a topic meant for adults, but this shows that Baby’s innocence is lost, since she considers the idea. After Jules finds out about Alphonse and Baby, Baby is sent to juvenile detention, where her innocence continues to diminish. For example: “It is a fact that things always get worse for children after a stint in juvenile detention.
Being there does something to you morally. When | left a month later, I felt much more vulnerable. ” (O’Neill 197) This quotation shows how Baby’s innocence continues to shed, after she was taken by social services. At the juvenile detention centre, Baby sees kids forced to strip, smoking, doing drugs, and having sexual intercourse. This quotation shows how Baby is traumatized by what she encountered. What Baby witnessed in the time period she was at the detention centre, hardly anyone will witness in their entire lives.
Thus leading to a greater loss of innocence at a young age, all because of the choice Jules made, to kick her out of his home. After hanging out with Alphonse, Baby begins to get addicted to heroin, and she feels the same way that Jules does when he is stoned. For example: “As soon as the drugs wore off, the universe went back to being the way it was before. Each time I came down, I made a secret promise to myself that I would feel that way again soon. ” (O’Neill 286) This quotation shows how Baby has become addicted to heroin, the same way Jules has.
After Alphonse mentions heroin to Baby, she begins to get excited. She feels like she can escape reality, and she doesn’t have to fear the pressures that society puts on her to grow up. The choice her father decided to make, by being addicted, causes Baby to lose her innocence. Along withe the choice Baby made to accept the heroin from Alphonse. Drugs shouldn’t be exposed to anyone, nevertheless, a child for that matter. This is what truly drags down Baby’s childhood, as she is carrying new burdens, and is no longer naive and pure.
Alden Nowlan’s short story, The Fall of a City, can be connected back to the theme of Lullabies for Little Criminals. Alden Nowlan uses the character of Teddy, to portray how a child’s innocence can be taken by one’s choice of words or actions. Teddy’s uncle is the one who takes away his innocence. When his uncle questions him about what he has been doing in the attic, Teddy replies saying he hadn’t been doing anything. Since Teddy’s uncle is in a position of authority, Teddy suddenly becomes nervous, and thinks he has done something wrong, based on the tone of his uncle’s voice.
For example: “His aunt and uncle did not mean to be cruel. From time to time, by their acts and words, they showed they were fond of him… But… ” The author uses this quote to demonstrate the fact that although his aunt and uncle showed fondness, it was still outweighed by the amount of times he felt alone in the world, similar to how Baby felt. Teddy doesn’t have anyone to teach him from right and wrong, and this is the beginning of Teddy losing his innocence. This affects Teddy, because he doesn’t have a very strong bond with his aunt and uncle.
This means Teddy doesn’t take jokes very lightly either, and can be easily hurt by them, which will lead to his loss of innocence at a young age. In this short story, Teddy is influenced and affected by his uncle’s words and actions. For example: “… that great big lummox has been playing with paper dolls! ” Once again, because of the authority Teddy’s uncle has over him, he becomes crushed, because his uncle made fun of his passion. The words Teddy’s uncle chooses to use, affects him. Teddy takes the time to contemplate about what his uncle said.
Teddy is only eleven years old, and because his uncle is in a position of authority, he’ll always be influenced by him. He is inclined to believe that his imaginative world is ridiculous and absolute nonsense. This leads Teddy into shredding his palace into pieces, out of spite, because he takes his uncle’s words to heart. This event highlights the theme very well. The words his uncle chose to say, affected Teddy, as his innocence had been taken away. Teddy, similar to Baby, will grow up with the mindset of an adult. Once innocence is taken away, so is the joy from a child’s life.
Through The Fall of a City, Alden Nowlan demonstrates very well, how the choices we make on what to say or do, can slowly lead to the loss of innocence. The novel, Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding, showcases how savage instincts can lead to the loss of innocence. A group of boys first arrived to the island, as civilized, British schoolboys. After realizing that they were on the island without the supervision of adults, Ralph becomes chief, however, he is unable to keep civilization. Thus, the loss of civilizations leads to the loss of innocence.
Things were going well, until they noticed that they had made a big mistake. For example: “Him that talked about the snakes. He was down there —” (Golding 47) This quotation demonstrates the beginning of the loss of civilization. When the boys realize that the boy with the birthmark was down by the creepers, where the fire had spread, they realized it was too late. The boy who saw the “beastie” was actually killed, symbolically, by the beast itself. However, the beast is actually the boys’ savage desire to neglect the rules, and order, of civilization.
Their negligence to the young boy, symbolically killed him, marking the beginning of the loss of civilization and innocence. The forest hideaway that Simon retreats to in chapter three is an example of how the boys’ loss of innocence is displayed through the landscape of the island. Simon appreciates the island and his hideaway, because it is beautiful, and he feels peaceful and calm. However, when he returns, there is a sign that the boys no longer had their childhood innocence. For example: “Simon stayed where he was, a small brown image, concealed by the leaves….
He opened his eyes quickly and there was the head grinning amusedly in the strange daylight, ignoring the flies, the spilled guts, even ignoring the indignity of being spiked on a stick. ” (Golding 151) This quotation shows how Simon returns to his hideaway in chapter eight, and he no longer feels peaceful on the island. Civilization was torn apart by savagery. When he returns, he finds the “Lord of the Flies”staked on a stick. It is a powerful symbol of how the innocence of childhood, had been corrupted by fear, and savagery, and how civilization was lost. By the end f the novel, a naval officer arrives to rescue the boys.
However, it was a bittersweet moment for Ralph. For example: “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy. ” (Golding 225) This quotation shows how the rescue was not as joyful as it should have been. He realizes that, although he is saved from a death on the island, he will never be the same boy he was from when he first arrived. Overcome with emotion, Ralph begins to sob. weeping for what within themselves had been lost—their child-like innocence.
Golding connects the reason behind Ralph’s tears, to the loss of innocence at a young age. The boys all killed the mulberry marked boy, Simon and Piggy. They all had a hand in their deaths. Their decision to neglect civilization, led to their savage instincts becoming unveiled. Ralph’s tears cause the other boys to weep as well, as they look at themselves, and can’t believe that what they have done, have made them lose their previous innocent and pure childhood. William Golding clearly demonstrates the loss of innocence through his novel. Childhood is valuable, as well as the innocence that comes along with it.
As soon as it is gone, life is seen in a whole different perspective. Childhood—the most delicate period of our lives, and can easily be taken away from us. Choices and decisions made can lead to the loss of our innocence. This theme is demonstrated through Heather O’Neill’s novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, Alden Nowlan’s short story, The Fall of a City, and through William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. As Tiffany Madison once said, “No one loses their innocence. It is either taken or given away willingly,” and this is well demonstrated throughout these pieces of literature.