Lullabies for Little Criminals: The Novel Analysis

Date:  2021-03-04 14:52:23
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This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Baby and the father, Jules are the two most outstanding characters in the Novel written by a Canadian Heather O'Neill, "Lullabies for little criminals," where the two symbols used here depict great and controversial characters in our rotten but well praised civilized society. The theme of child abuse or rather a child was neglecting, and oppression as well is eminent and diverse in the whole book. Right from the beginning, in the queer world, that Baby finds herself and the things her father does seems to be a big contrast of her and vice versa. Just but an introduction, the Baby plays the biggest role and character of a protagonist. So sad for a 12-year-old girl to lead such a poor and desperate life full of contempt and unfair treatment from other characters she encounters in the streets of cities as the book rolls through.

The two characters act divergently from each other. As the father leaves the daughter in the house and heads to the streets, this happens as the mother had kicked the world soon after her birth while Jules is in high school though the cause of her death is not clearly revealed immediately. In a flashback, the father, Jules led a life full of parental support but here comes the daughter who is left behind all by herself wherever there may be a living, for several weeks or months. It's a big contrast in the life led by these two blood bond characters where the father owes the full responsibility of mentoring. Inspiring and providing the full basket of needs of the baby. The child is overwrought and unknowingly starts wandering in the streets of Montreal.

In contrast, again Baby manages to make two friends in the foster home after being taken by the Child Protective Services. Lucas and Zachary where the latter is a mellow, happy twelve-year-old, they are the close ails of Baby. This character of making friends depicts the black side of the father as he could not even manage to make friendship with her very own daughter rather makes friendship with drugs, heroin.

After picking her again, he makes several promises about how everything is going to change to the best, but that doesn't seem to stick to the promises, he embarks back to his old tricks of heroin as it takes best of him again. This is betrayal to his promises and his very own daughter. As a parent he ought to have sided by his words .But instead he chose heroin which later overwhelms him again, and he begins to go back slowly and slapping Baby even. Through parallelism, it's evident that Baby knows how to make and maintain friends while the ill-fated father doesn't even know about friendship. He breaks the vows he makes to her own daughter who is a hearty friend as well.

Both of these two characters are "babies". Jules is a big child himself as he sires a baby at the age of 15 years and later makes a decision to take her to the unrest and socially incapacitated Montreal region. He a junkie with high and quick dreams of getting rich with undiagnosed mental illness. This seems to be the life many people out there lives but truly saying what he is going through is well understood. But still being a kid he chooses to embrace the love for his daughter and that he keeps trying hard to recollect himself and get Baby within his surrounding and vicinity. Interestingly, Baby's love for his father is true and unconditional; he is her close friend just like screwed up kids do. Baby says "as she was walking home through the streets, she spots Jules leaning on one of the street corners. He seemed to turn his head around and all over the place like somebody looking intently not to miss a glimpse on somebody as they planned to be a meeting point. Jules was shaking and nodding his head at the same time putting his hand and palm on the cheek as if having an argumentative conversation with somebody or rather asking the creator Why and what did he do wrong. His hat was way below his forehead and eyes. As a surprise, Baby calls his name and he tilts his head up to have a good site of the individual calling, realizing its Baby he shouts out happily without his knowledge (O'Neil, 89).

Away from the similarities, Baby being 12 is unimaginable of what she does and goes through. Her life is even incomparable. She moves and revolves around foster homes right to detention centers, again and again, befriending pimps and junkies in situations when her Dad is not well enough to take good care of her. She takes the initiative and recollects her senses up to the task of moving from home to take care of herself. She does all this with the strongest faith and will. Symbolically, Baby is different from Dad as she can go out to save a day when the Dad could not and remembers about her Dad all the times on the clock while Jules could leave her for weeks or even months.

Baby seems to endure bitterness and cruelty within the short time we get to know her. As the author sails with her life for two years only. Many queer things seem to occlude in between her beautiful future. As heroin took the best of Jules, Baby runs away and finds semblance of security with Alphonse where around this time she spends a good time in juvenile detention (Harper, 89) Within that same period Alphonse develops intimate relationship with her, breaking her sex innocence and forcing her to be a prostitute, she later falls as one of his prostitute girls and she develops fear of leaving him. After her return to the apartment where they were staying with Jules, she is caught by shock having noticed that the door is locked on the inside, and she assumes that Jules has abandoned her. Consequently, Alphonse exposes her to chocolate milk making her gain addiction. Baby does all this out of knowledge and unwillingness but Jules, the father, is so aware of the very things he is doing, taking heroin is a decision to him but it isn't to Baby.

The story of the old doll is broad and it's used symbolically, as an imagery and as a descriptive feeling. It depicts much desperation and inner feelings of the paternal love she misses in her dear and young life so she opts to seek consolation from the ragdoll. The doll represents her lost childhood as dolls are used by young girls to make "believe real play" games, and symbolizes juvenility. Baby does not behave like a typical 12-year-old as she grew very fast beyond her developmental state when she is pulled by strong forces into prostitution by this character Alphonse. She went out of the house as a naive girl but the world welcomes her with slavery of so many things. The interpretive song representation also brings forth Baby's sudden and unimaginable transition from naive childhood into a bad rooted adulthood, and the forceful or inevitable loss of her innocence. Baby has undoubtedly proved the incumbents of losing something precious and irreplaceable such as childhood.

The oral thesis statement "Recovery of the lost one has been a crucial reoccurrence theme displayed through Heather O'Neil's work of art and dramatic interpretations. This novel showcases the loss of naivety and innocence at a tender age alongside eminent complications in Baby's life through multiple different experiences over her brief childhood. It can be argued that Jules and his absence both physically and emotionally allows Baby to develop a pattern of moving from and to foster homes. More interestingly Jules drug addiction makes him absent even when he's actually there. Distinctly baby has never got to know anything to do with her mother. In summary Jules constant absence from her daughter impacts much on Baby's innocence and it's seen to bring detrimental effects to her. Jules provides an ambience of criminal negligence and proves his struggles with the white milk and parenthood imposing serious effects on close family relationships. This can be seen from the ultimate deterioration of Baby's childhood and familiarity with heroin as she grows up. (O'Neil, 18)

The sentiments her dad says that "you a lair and you are going to be a pervert, more painfully he says sternly he'd be embarrassed walking down the streets with her " ( O'Neil, 156).At times baby's father could be in the mood to talk although when he was high with heroin he could be loyal and honest. Baby says she loves it when he could tell her secrets (O'Neil, 18). Though at times during his withdrawals Jules could shatter the feeling of insecurity and burst into rage yelling out loudly and sternly telling her that the only valuable thing taken away from her is childhood and she should go think about it (O'Neil, 69).This shows the anger of a drug addict and how worse it can get, it consequently shows the impacts to a young developing mind, personal attributes and morals. Quotation proves the loss of Baby's innocence due to her father's migration patterns and habits.

Baby is overexposed to an ambience of criminal negligence and ruthless environment, and she, therefore, struggles with and social integrity and compromised morals. She gets dragged into prostitution, drug addiction. Through this novel led by protagonist, Baby tries to show how difficult it is to for a young woman to grow up and develop fully into a society. After she started using heroin, she could not go home the next day, but instead, she stayed with Alphonse with the norm of taking heroin and getting high (O'Neil, 286). It's also showcased that "at young age sex doesn't mean a lot. It isn't as sacred as it should be. The whole act is nasty while happening but it doesn't have anything to do with love." (O'Neil, 230)


Heather O'Neill, "Lullabies for Little Criminals" Welcome to HarperCollins Publishers Canada, 2009.

Kirkus Reviews, Lullabies for little criminals. (2006).

Quill and Quire, "Lullabies for Little Criminals" Reviewed and Retrieved June 9, 2014


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