Chapter 5: Ferals

Growing up outside of society, ferals emblematize human nature at its purest. Freed from the cloying conformity of society, the feral can be an icon; the feral feminist of recent YA literature, for example, is liberated from sexist gender expectations. On the other side, The Lord of the Flies (1954)—like other stories about ferocious ferals—delivers a damning evaluation of human nature. However, as I show, the children were corrupted by society and its penchant for war long before they were stranded. Dystopian science fiction and horror stories like Who Can Kill a Child? (1976) and Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” (1977) deploy a similar strategy. Child criminals are also often discussed using feral imagery, as in the recent hoodie horror subgenre.