Childhood is a crucial time in a person’s life and it needs to be kept innocent and pure for the child’s well-being later in life. The most important recurring theme in the novel Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill is the loss of innocence at a young age and the profound complications later in life. The complete loss of innocence is built-up with multiple different experiences over time. For Baby, these experiences are: when she is first exposed to drug use, when she spends time in foster care and when she becomes engaged in prostitution.
The first experience that Baby has which causes her loss of innocence is her first exposure to the world of drug use. For her age, Baby knows a plethora of information about drugs, the world of drug users and “junkies”, causing her loss of innocence to begin at a remarkably young age. From birth, Baby is raised solely by her father. He abuses drugs for the majority of her life, causing her to be raised in an atrocious environment. A quotation from the novel that shows her abundant knowledge about substance use is, “...for a kid, I knew a lot of things about what it felt like to use heroin.” (O’Neill, 10) This quotation shows how much of Baby’s life is spent around drug dealers and drug use in general. Baby sees her own father abusing drugs and learns a copious amount of information from him about substance abuse.
Another prominent experience in Baby’s life that causes her loss of innocence is the first time she does heroin at the age of twelve. Baby always knew she was going to do drugs, and she thought of heroin as her gateway into the world of adults. “You’ve never done heroin, have you?” (285). This quotation is what is said to her the first time that Baby is offered heroin by her pimp, Alphonse. This question opens the doors to the adult world, showing Baby things that she should never see and ultimately causing further
Bibliography: O 'Neill, Heather. Lullabies for Little Criminals: A Novel. New York: Harper Perennial, 2006. Print.