The Body: Continuity of Child Protagonists





The Body: Continuity of Child Protagonists

Leonard, in the article Little Terrors: the Child Antagonist in the Horror Film, narrates how children are the primary domain in horror movies. Over the last five decades, children have proven to be the most vital and practical element in horror movies as they help derive feelings of fear and joy in the audience in degrees that adult actors cannot. Acting as protagonists, children bring to the surface the complexities and contradictions of the horrific element in the films. Stephen King’s The Body produces instances of worldly horror in bittersweet fashions that influence the childhood memories of its audience. At the core of the story are four protagonist boys, all twelve years of age. The kids are on a journey to find the body of another boy who was hit by a train. The conduct and depiction of the children protagonists in the Body enable theorization of discourse constructing the common comprehension of childhood in the audience.

Children act as class representatives in horror movies shaping the maturity process that the audiences perceive in films and the society as a whole. According to Leonard, children in popular screen performances are of great political and cultural importance given their high capacities to reflect and manipulate public perceptions (Leonard 11). Key discourses that children enable are gender, parenting, consumer culture, class, innocence, and sexuality. In King’s horror movie, the kids identify the stages of coming to age, a factor that the society associates (Csetenyi 4). In meaning, the children stress on the sexual element that the society uses in the maturation process. For instance, the audience perceives a kid as mature in scenes of first kisses, purchase of alcohol, or relations with the opposite gender. The same criterion of maturation is employed in the real world highlighting how theorization of the film discourse shapes childhood perceptions in the society (Csetenyi 4).

Childhood memories dictate that friendships are strongest and pure when an individual and his or her friends are in transition across adolescents. Leonard argues that childhood bonds in horror films chart the relationships in adults (Leonard 15). In meaning, adults construct friendships based on their childhood experiences. King, in his narrative, gives the play a special significance when he connects kids of the same age and gender in their adolescent youth. The bond between the actors is not lost when they pass the maturity threshold. This can be seen in one of the boys in his adulthood when he states, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve (King 337).”

Major themes, motifs, and symbols in horror movies are expressed by little terrors over the last few decades in the film industry. The Body by Stephen King conforms to this literary approach as the boys go to create childhood perceptions through themes of love. In the film, the maturation process is given measure through acts of bravery, compassion, and love. When the boys stand up to older kids who were bullies and when they indulge with girls, the viewer attaches to them a novel level of maturity. As argued, this is the same societal approach used to determine whether a child has grown cognitively and emotionally independent in their interactions. Through children in films, the society understands that friendships are strongest while young. The strength and nature of bonds developed while young proportionally determine the characteristics of adulthood friendships. The child in western horror film culture is the core tool for bringing to the surface societal complexities.


Works Cited

Csetenyi, Korinna. “Fall from Innocence: Stephen King’s “The Body””. Americana. 14 March 2008. Web. 8 July 2015. <>

Lennard, Dominic W. Little Terrors: The Child Antagonist in the Horror Film. Library Open Repository. 11 December 2013. Web. 8 July 2015. <>

Waterfield, Robin, and Stephen King. Fall from Innocence: The Body. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2008. Print.



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