I believe John Calhoun to has one main point in his article, Childhood's End: Let the Right One In and Other Deaths of Innocence. He argues that corruption in children is in part cause by the adults or lack there of in their world. He argues that “parents and other adults are supposed to protect children, and their potential failure to do so can be a potent source of horror: for both children and adults” (Calhoun 27). Children have become the focus of many horror films over the years and Calhoun believes the subjects of these movies are not entirely at fault for their actions and that their parents or other adults in their lives must hold a lot of the blame. He believes this to be true of Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist and he says “the parental—and by extension, the state—mandate to shield children seems to have utterly broken down” in the novel (Calhoun 27). The novel takes place in Sweeden in the 1980s where “few residents seem to venture outside, or have contact with their neighbors, and they certainly aren't watching out for the local children” (Calhoun 27). He goes on to calls the adults in the novel “useless or worse” including Oskar's “divorced working mother” who “is often absent, and at best ineffectual” (Calhoun 27) and his “alcoholic father, who uses the occasion of the boy's visit to drink himself into oblivion” (Calhoun 27-28). Also in this category of useless adults in charge of children is Eli's 'father' Hakan who “is a poor provider and fails as definitely as the other film's other adults to offer a stable haven” (Calhoun 28). It is assumed by the author that “without effective religious or parental guidance, Oskar is left to his own devices, and savagery naturally rises to the fore” (Calhoun 31). Calhoun also believes that “so many fingers in both the novel and film seem to point to a lack of adult supervision as a culprit... if parents stayed together, if mothers didn't work outside the home and fathers provided a strong moral and physical presence, then the family's failure would not become the state's failure and kids wouldn't have to turn to a gang, a sexual predator, or a vampire for refuge” (Calhoun 31).
One passage I found interesting while reading the article was third paragraph on page 28 starting with “James published”. Children to me are innocent and frail but they were not always seen this way. Calhoun quotes David R. Shaffer's Social and Personality Development, “at about age 6, children were dressed in downsized versions of adult clothing and were depicted in artwork as working alongside adults” (Calhoun 28). It was after reading this that I was reminded of how children used to and in some places still have to go to work on a regular basis and don't get to have a regular childhood. These are the children that have really, truly lost their innocence, something they probably were never privileged enough to have.
Another passage I found interesting started with the second paragraph on page 30. It was interesting to me that people were outraged and thought the horror film's with children as subjects were sick. What was happening onscreen was not real and was not actually happening to the actor. Would they have felt the same way if it had been an adult woman who was “masturbating with a crucifix?” (Calhoun 30). It's strange to me that the only thing brought up in the article is the fact that people were outraged that a 13 year old actress was part of it. What about the fact that she was masturbating with a crucifix? Was that not thought of as wrong, that this girl was playing with a symbol of God? I guess it could be justified with the fact that this girl was possessed by the devil but then again she wasn't really, she was an actress who was simply acting.
After reading the article, I have to agree and disagree with author Calhoun. I used to believe children to be “innocent creatures” and while some of them still are, there are those like Oskar that have someway or another lost their innocence (Calhoun 1). When we first meet Oskar in Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist, he is correctly identifying heroin in front of his class and he attributes this knowledge to the fact that he's “read a lot and stuff” (Lindqvist 8). I read quite a lot myself in my younger years but at thirteen years old I had no idea what heroin was let a lone what it looked like. And while I can agree that some of Oskar's problems may stem from a broken home, I don't believe it's his broken home that has done him the most harm. As a young boy, Oskar keeps a scrapbook, a collection of articles about murders and the people behind them. One of his dreams is “to see someone executed in the electric chair” (Lindqvist 18). He plays a game with himself in which “he [is] a dreaded mass murderer” who has “already slain fourteen people with his sharp knife” (Lindqvist 21). This game is about the only think that makes “Oskar [feel] almost happy” (Lindqvist 22). But Oskar hadn't become this person until his fifth grade year when “he had become a full-fledged target” by bullies and his classmates “called more and more seldom to ask him to play” (Lindqvist 15). In the novel, Jonny is one of Oskar's more hated enemies. This I believe is the fault of Jonny's broken home. He “already had two younger siblings” and an older brother, Jimmy, when his “mom had met some guy” and then “their youngest little sister was born” (Lindqvist 236). The house was crowded and because “there was sort of no room,” “Jimmy was not home as often” (Lindqvist 236). Since their dad “left when Jonny was four,” the only male figure Jonny had in his life was his brother. Jimmy hung around some “sketchy” people and stole money from his mother (Lindqvist 235). Jimmy can be a violent person and this is where Jonny gets it from. It makes perfect sense for him to pick on someone like Oskar so he can be like his big brother. I do agree that a broken home can negatively affect a child's life as evident with Jonny, but I don't think Oskar's parents are to blame for his troubles.
Calhoun, John. "Childhood's End: Let the Right One In and Other Deaths of Innocence." 2009: 27-31. Web. 8 Dec 2010.
Lindqvist, John. Let The Right One In. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004. Print.