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Suffer The Little Children (Stephen King) - Literary Analysis Coursework

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Introduction

Suffer The Little Children - Literary Analysis The simplistic opening in Suffer the Little Children gives the reader a good idea of the main character in one sentence. "Miss Sidley was her name, and teaching was her game." Giving descriptions of the silent children provides more information; this teacher could be different to all the others. This is reinforced with, 'Like God, she seemed to know everything at once.' The omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent qualities she has overpower her physical frailties. This religious element of the story is now also understandable. In the Book of Daniel, Chapter 6, Jesus said "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven". This religious connotation further keeps the story grounded in reality while, at the same time, moving it on to a different plane of perception. As 'she could turn her back on her pupils with confidence' we can see that fear is her success. 'Her firm, no nonsense script' shows that even her handwriting reflects her attitude and concrete persona. ...read more.

Middle

She could feel the weight of the children's eyes like 'blind, crawling ants'. This builds atmosphere and tension, she waits to lash out but none of the class are stepping out of line; it is almost as if they know how she feels, and are responding accordingly. The story also highlights an important distinction between the children of now, and the children in Miss Sidley's childhood. 'A smiling quietness around adults that had never been there before.' 'Hiding behind masks' The sinister aspect of such young children having adult or even alien like descriptions is quite frankly, intimidating - we do not even know what other traits they could posses. 'Smiling quietness' also suggests knowledge that they should not have. Another extreme reaction to giggling is encountered in the bathroom. 'She would shake them...thump their heads against the walls...make them admit they knew' Her hyper violent response is almost sickening, and then it could almost be justified with the shadows 'change...to strange hunched shapes' no longer just children, they have changed to become 'sexless and soulless, and quite, quite evil.' ...read more.

Conclusion

As soon as he begins to change, she shoots him 'Once. In the head.' Now only a 'dead little boy...It was human,' there is a sudden realisation and her thoughts are written out in italics as her desperate struggle between real life and insanity. She begins to lead them down one by one, ironically like Jesus as a shepherd leading lambs to the slaughter. Repetition of the first sentence is possibly a hint of what is about to happen. "Buddy Jenkins was his name, psychiatry was his game." The reader immediately has a sense that something else could go wrong. Miss Sidley is introduced to the 'smiling, drooling, cataclysmically retarded children' and responds to them well at first, but then she seems to see something which 'disturbs her.' She is taken away and later that night kills herself with a bit of broken mirror glass - imagery included again of the separate reality on the other side of the mirror. After this, Buddy Jenkins begins to watch the children more and more 'in the end, he was hardly able to take his eyes off them.' The same thing seems to be happening again, the reader is now lead down the same path: to decide for themselves whether the story was real, or not. ...read more.

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