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—seems to deliver a most damning evaluation of human nature. However, 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.