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Lullabies for Little Criminals

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Jacquie Braham

on 31 October 2011

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Transcript of Lullabies for Little Criminals

Summary The plot revolves around Baby, who is a twelve year old girl who never had a mother and lives with her father, Jules, in the poor parts of downtown Montreal. Jules is a young father with a worsening heroin addiction, and no clue how to raise a child, because he still is one himself. Throughout the novel, this broken family moves between shabby apartment buildings and hotels, because Jules is always getting into trouble with friends, his jobs, or his drug dealers. Jules’ addiction causes him to make some bad decisions, which leaves Baby wandering the streets of Montreal alone, because she is left alone for weeks, even a month at a time. Near the beginning of the novel, she is put into a foster care home, while Jules is sent to rehab. When released, Jules promises that everything will go back to normal, but in fact, his addiction worsens. This causes Baby to run away, and meet a pimp named, Alphonse. Eventually, Alphonse begins to develop a relationship with Baby, and then forces her to become a prostitute, to start smoking weed and also start using heroin. Although Baby is working for Alphonse, she continues to attend school, where she meets an innocent boy named, Xavier. They develop a very close relationship. Baby’s life spins out of control, as she struggles between the adult world and the world of a child. A novel by Heather O'Neil Lullabies for Little Criminals Baby Baby is a 12/13 year old girl (the protagonist) who has lived her whole life with Jules, and has never known her mother. Although she has grown up in an abnormal home, Baby is generally content with her life. She strives for Jules’ love and to make him proud of her, although does not always receive this praise, due to Jules’ heroin-confused brain. She tries to find a certain type of love in everyone she meets. Baby’s constant search for love leaves her distraught and sometimes sad. Although she has never known the feeling, Baby desperately craves a mother figure in her life.

Baby is a naïve character who believes that in every situation, good or bad, that things will turn out all right.

Baby is also, most importantly, stuck between the adult world, and the world of a child. Her forced independence, due to Jules’ constant absences, has made her to grow up beyond her years, and to take care of herself. Although she still sometimes tries to appreciate the child aspects of life – playing with dolls, enjoying the small things, having your first kiss, etc… -, she is tangled in the adult world of prostitution, sex, drugs and evil things. Jules Jules is the young father of Baby. A lot of things are unsure about Jules, except for his unfaltering love for his daughter, and the undying love for Baby’s mother, Manon. Jules finds himself mixed up in the world of heroin quite a lot, which forces him to make bad decisions. He does not have a high school diploma, and cannot hold a stable job. He provides for Baby in the best way that he can, but because he is still a kid himself, he does not know how to raise a child on his own.
Jules has good intentions, though – he buys his daughter small, meaningful gifts with what money he has, he is always on her side. The truth with Jules is that he wants his daughter to grow up to become something, unlike him. He is very protective of Baby.
From the beginning of the book to the ending, though, Jules finally grows up. At the end of the novel, Jules plans out for him and Baby to go live with his cousin in the country. He promises a fresh start for him and Baby. This means a lot, because Jules rarely promises anything to Baby. Jules finally realizes his responsibility as a parent. Alphonse Xavier Alphonse is the antagonist in the novel. He is a full grown man, who also happens to be a well known pimp in the area. When he meets Baby, he uses her naivety to his advantage; he brings her nice presents, and eventually convinces Baby that he is in love with her. His one intention, though, is to make Baby into a prostitute, which he succeeds in doing. Alphonse corrupts Baby’s innocence, by taking her virginity, and then dealing her out on the street corners a couple times a week. In addition, Alphonse takes all the money Baby makes, so that he can assure that Baby will rely on him for survival, and not be able to take care of herself.
Alphonse represents the adult world for Baby. A world of work, hardships and no innocence. Xavier is Baby’s first boyfriend. He is a funny and light character.
Xavier represents the child world for Baby. He is innocent, fun and recognizes the small, beautiful things in life. Setting The novel mostly takes place in downtown Montreal, on well-known streets such as St Catherine street, Christophe-Colombe street, and many others. This is the poor part of downtown Montreal, where various strip clubs are found, and where prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers hang around. Here, is where Baby is greatly influenced by the bad things in the world. She is exposed to these things that most kids her age would never even know exist yet. Conflict The struggle with drugs The conflict Baby experiences with heroin is ironic, because Jules’ conflict with it at the beginning of the novel is the reason Baby’s downward spiral began. The struggle to fit in and to belong Baby has minimal friends throughout the novel. One of her first friends in the novel, Lauren, experiences Baby’s home life, and soon spreads rumours about her throughout the school. The struggle to find love Baby finds herself, when Jules leaves her, in a life without love. She clings to anything close to love: her relationship with Alphonse, Xavier, Theo, etc… The struggle of a teenage girl without a mother Throughout the novel, Baby finds herself in two different foster homes. The two females of the households, Isabel and Mary, become mother-like figures for Baby. This is the closest she has ever felt to having a mother, though, because they are not hers, she feels guilty. The main conflict, though, is the struggle between becoming an adult and staying a child. Baby is exposed too early to the world of adults, and feels the constant pull of that side. It starts with Baby’s friend, Zoe, who convinces her that at the age of 12, you should already have lost your virginity. Soon after, she is exposed to drugs (marijuana and Magic mushrooms). Once Baby meets Alphonse, she starts drinking alcohol too. Alphonse forces Baby to turn tricks as a prostitute, and takes her virginity at the age of 13. Baby’s is unnaturally forced to grow up in these ways.
However, Baby still lives the life of a child. She appreciates simple things in life, she likes to go to school and do well. Baby likes to receive praise and feel secure and safe. The child part of Baby can be seen when she is with Xavier, another child. Ideas This novel could potentially introduce many ideas and perspectives to the reader whether it be a young teen, a young adult, or a parent. For any responsible person this novel comes as a caution to them, and makes them really think about the choices made in life. If you are a young teen, Baby’s actions may influence you to think that being a prostitute and doing drugs is alright. Baby uses it as an escape and a safety net when she is not on good terms with her dad Jules. Young teens from broken homes need to be taken care of, not taught to do terrible and illegal things with people much older than them. Baby finds prostitutes attractive and she envies them.
Baby talks about how good she feels when she is high.
“In any case, I never thought of heroin as being a bad thing.” –Baby (pg. 287) Older teens and young adults would get a completely different message from the novel. They could either consider it a warning to stay away from young kids, and to postpone them finding out about sex and drugs, or they could interpret it thinking that younger kids just want to do drugs and grow up as fast as they can. Leelee talks to Baby as if they are the same age, making Baby think she should be like Leelee.
Responsible young adults would take this book and make sure they never influence younger children to turn out like Baby did.
“The women that I was most crazy about were the young drug addicts.” –Baby Parents on the other hand would have viewed the novel as a warning to keep a close watch over their kids. Especially single parents or parents battling poverty would read this novel and take it very seriously. When Jules kicks Baby out of the house, she goes to Alphonse (her pimp) and starts doing heroin and getting tricks every night.
Baby likes Jules the best when he is high, he’s nicer to her then Themes One of the hardest things for kids to cope with in life is change.
Baby is forced to go live in a foster home outside of Van des Loups for a couple of months when Jules comes down with bronchitis and goes to the hospital. She is only accustom to living with Jules and finds the change difficult for she can’t indulge in the simple things she used to with Jules. (p.27)

After Jules comes back for her she misses her new made friends in the foster home as well as Isabelle her temporary foster mother and has to get use to Jules again.

When Jules got busted for possession Baby had to go stay with their neighbour at the time (Mary). Again she is separated from Jules and has to become accustom to living. (p.57) Change may be your goal, but it’s so easy to fall back into old habits. “I hoped that we would stay there forever and that we would never be separated again.” (pg 52) When Baby goes back to living with Jules again.

Since Jules had started using heroin again, it was inevitable that he would be arrested. (p.57)

After Jules came out of rehab he was a different person. Baby wanted the old Jules back even if that means he’s high all the time again because he’s a less harsh and more understanding person that way.

Even after Baby leaves Alphonse and finds security in Xavier, who Alphonse forbids her to see, she still continues to pull tricks for Alphonse. When children are neglected they will accept and follow those who take interest in them. “I wanted desperately to belong to someone. It didn’t matter who.” (p.207)

Alphonse took interest in Baby showing her the compassion and attention she lacked after Jules came out of rehab. As a result Baby continues to return to him even after he’s treated her poorly. Main Theme : When you’re young all you want to do is grow up, but it’s when you’ve experienced an adult’s life you realize how precious childhood really is. When Johnny kisses Baby, but stops and tells her to leave. “I had been turned away at the door of adulthood.” (pg 77)

Baby and Felix tried magic mushrooms because she wanted to experience what people found so thrilling about drugs. (pg 82-87)

Baby grew up faster than she expected thanks to the faith she put in Alphonse. He manipulates her to pull tricks for him and continues her downward spiral in life.

After Alphonse is dead Baby finally realizes how much she needs and misses Jules; even after their fallout because Jules never took care of her.

She realized that she desperate needed her dad in her life after trying to replace his love with other people and/or their parents.

When Baby meets Jules in the Mission Shelter she accepts his plans to make her live with his cousin Janine for she knows that he is finally looking out for her. Style Compilations of literary elements used throughout the book to help further our understanding of Baby, her character and her situation as a whole. The story is mainly comprised of comparisons, metaphors and similes that tie into the ironic situations Baby finds herself in. Comparisons and contrasts are used to illustrate the different influences in Baby’s life. “They were better than Nancy Drew mysteries.”(pg. 114)
“I always found sex painful physically…it wasn’t that way when I was cuddling with Xavier. Fooling around with Xavier was like climbing into a hot bath.” (p.252) Hyperboles are used when Baby is high to show how she feels. “She had the most beautiful voice in the world.” (pg. 284) Similes and metaphors are used to express Baby and Jules’ relationship and interactions. “I felt like a bug trapped in amber.”(pg. 143)
“He looked like a gypsy about to be married.” (pg. 142)
“A huge filthy puddle the colour of dead fish lay under, full of seaweed that looked like hair clogging the drain” (p.138)
“Eventually everyone would fall one by one like stars dropping out of the sky, leaving me standing in the dark.” (p.216)
“The lights made your veins stand out as much as the phone numbers scribbled on the walls with blue pen.”
“Violence never gives you a specific reason that it’s time to knock it off” (p.137)
“I would go to my hanging with dignity.” (p.196)
“If someone blew on me, I would turn to ice and break into a million pieces.” (p.197) Irony After Baby was hugged by Theo’s mom, she felt dirty and went home to wash herself. (p.122)
Baby kept the horrid letter she got in the mail from Theo.
“I swore to myself that I would get a tattoo of a butterfly on me before I turned fourteen.” (p.257) Baby didn’t want Jules to get a tattoo, but now as she’s thirteen obsessed with getting one because she saw a prositute with one. Foreshadowing is used to tell you Baby will become a delinquent. “The kind of arms that held someone who was going away to jail for ten years.”(pg. 121) Connections Text to World This book visually describes a picture of the “outside” world. So many people are stuck in their own personal bubble, and only know about what's happening around them. The book provides the truth about the world, such as poor detention centres, non-constructive rehabilitation centres, abusive parents, crimes, and prostitution. There are disgusting things that happen every day, such as prostitution and getting stoned off drugs, but people are completely unaware of these events. Reading the book makes you realize that the “bad” things you hear about are actually real, and these things could happen to anyone. Also, this book proves that people are very stereotypical. For example, people think people who do drugs are all terrible people, but this may not always be the case. Text to Self Text to Text This book is hard to relate to, because its all about child problems, and poor upbringings. I had a pretty stable childhood, which is an important base to grow off of. What I can relate to is when the kids broke into a house. I've never broken into a house and stolen things, but I have broken into a school. The doors were wide open, and we decided to step in. We took some small items, which weren't very valuable. This was a while ago, and you could say that in elementary school, kids don't know what's right and what's wrong. From Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Plot: This 11-year old girl who thought her parents didn't appreciate her. She ran away with her younger brother. They hid in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and it was there that they learned about the secret of an angel statue.

Both of these stories contain young girls in their transition to adulthood. The girl in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Claudia, and Baby (main character in Lullabies for Little Criminals) both had troubles physically and emotionally because of their parents. Both girls, through their incidents of running away, had learned more about the world they were living in and became more mature. After their “adventures,” both Baby and Claudia reunited with their families. Baby is similar to Holden Caulfield in the sense that they are both very independent. They get enrolled in the wrong things, (Holden smokes, Baby does drugs) and have a main source of motivation that they live for (Pheobe for Holden, and Xavier for Baby). They are both negative people with few friends. Holden grew up in a broken home, as well as Baby. Their parents don't appreciate and show their love for their kids. Questions Are less fortunate children more appreciative? Do you lose your innocence when you grow up? Do children blame their parents for causing their problems? If you had a kid today, what would your life be like?
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