Small Objects: a Literary Analysis of Lullabies for Little Criminals

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Small Objects:
A Literary Analysis of “Lullabies for Little Criminals”
In “Lullabies for Little Criminals,” there are many small objects that are relevant to Baby’s life. Objects can have remarkably profound effects on a person’s life, whether they are of sentimental value or another form of personal meaning, they have an impact on us. An object can mean many things to different people. An abandoned doll in a trash bin could be seen as old and ugly to an average person, but to the person who originally owned the doll; it could have been particularly special. In the novel, Heather O’Neil illustrates the effects of such objects on Baby and their symbolic meaning. In “Lullabies for Little Criminals,” there are three objects that represent Baby’s growth and change throughout the novel: the ragdoll, the knee- high socks, and the toy mice. When introducing her new friend Lauren to her room, Baby reflects on her rag doll, “It was a doll that my mother had bought for me when she was pregnant . . . The doll also made me feel sweet inside, too, because it made me feel that at some point, even before I existed, I had been loved” (O’Neill 97-98). This illustrates Baby’s longing for a loving mother figure, which is a reasonable expectation from a 12 year old girl. Loving care is a critical need of any child. Baby does not have that feeling of being loved; therefore, she finds comfort in the fact that she was once loved. The doll is also representative of her current state of mind. Such as her wishes to be normal: have normal friends, normal parents, normal family; a normal life. When Jules destroys Baby’s rag doll out of anger, it is symbolic of a lost childhood. Her last reminder of the love her mother had for her had been torn away. Baby says, “Now I was nothing, a real nobody (O’Neill 119). The destruction of her doll meant that her sense of belonging, that she was once part of a family, was now gone. She seems as if she is being pulled into adolescence...
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