The themes explored in the short story “Suffer the Little Children” by Stephen Kingare power and control, insanity, versions of reality, and fear. The story makes readers reflect on different versions of reality in which possession or evil might be possible. The writer also sends a subtle message against bullying. Miss Sidley is a bullying teacher and in the universe of the story she is punished for it (she goes insane, she is institutionalized in a psychiatric ward, and kills herself).
Power and control
The theme of power and control is explored through the conflict between Miss Sidley and Robert (and other children like him). In the story, Miss Sidley is a person who “had always been a winner”. She likes being in control of her pupils to an extreme degree, using fear to make them obey her. Her power comes from the fact that she is able to know what the children are doing behind her back.
The woman’s power and control are challenged by Robert, a pupil who stares at her, acts defiantly and, as it is later revealed, is an evil creature possessing real Robert’s body. The more Robert challenges her, the more determined Miss Sidley is to take control of the situation. The same desire for cont...