Analysis Of Heather O 'Neill's Lullabies For Little Criminals'

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The novel Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill is narrated by Baby -- the 12 year old protagonist and daughter of a single father and heroin addict, Jules. Baby never knew her mother and is unaware that she has any other family. They live in various shabby hotels in Montreal’s red light district. This paper is an exploration of the pathway effects caused by lack of familial support and how Jules addiction created a milieu that leads to Baby being ostracised by society. Suggestions are offered to alleviate their struggles.
As Karl Marx famously said “[People] make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and
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Jules addiction leads to a downward spiral of improper housing, precarious working conditions, and Jules failing to sufficiently provide for Baby. According to Sapolsky (2005) "People who are stressed have minimal control over stressors, they have no predictive information about the duration and intensity of the stressor, few outlets for the frustration caused by the stressor, view problems as evidence of circumstances worsening, and lack social support for the duress caused by the stressors." The chronic stress Jules experiences raising Baby without any family support is catalyst to his heroin addiction. Overwhelmed with the duty of parenting, Jules turns to drugs as a coping mechanism to numb the pain. "My mind is my own worst enemy. In a way I am perpetually and permanently in a state of rehabilitation. In an attempt to recover from the shock of being born. Some people are too sensitive to withstand that." (O'Neill, 2006, p.81) Sadly, Baby associates Jules addiction with happy times, as opposed to when he attempts to get clean, his psychosis causes him to accuse Baby of breaking things around the house at night, letting a bird inside and being on drugs. Jules spoke of being abuse by his father, the latent effect of Jules childhood kept him isolated from his parents. According to Friedrich Engels, "health-harming" behaviours (i.e heroin…show more content…
Moreover, Baby encounters rejection and stigma from authority figures and classmates, further contributing to her low self-esteem. For example, after a school teacher informed Xavier’s parents that, Baby is a troubled child from a broken home- Baby is unwelcome at his house. Lauren was Baby friend; however after witnessing Baby’s home life she humiliated and excluded Baby. Furthermore, they were many instances where the social workers and teachers could have intervened and make a positive difference in Baby’s life. However, they all fail to do so; Baby lamented "they are afraid of my sadness" (O'Neill, 2006, p.128). Nevertheless, Baby was correct in her assumption society feared her sadness, with teachers and social workers perpetuating the notion that she is a troubled kid, it was difficult to keep friends. This could have acted as a buffer from her home life. (Johnson, A.G. ,2008, pg8) stated that " The resulting patterns of inequality and oppression not only ruin people's lives, but also create division and resentment fed by injustice and suffering that eat away at the core of life in communities, workplaces, schools, and other social situations." Throughout the book progression of social exclusion affected Baby’s life; every step Baby makes in the right direction is thwarted by rejection. Baby noted that “Eventually everyone would fall one by one like stars dropping
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