First published in 1972, Suffer the Little Children focuses on Miss Sidley, a no-nonsense teacher, ruling her third-grade class with an iron fist. Whether or not the children played a part in the breakdown of her sanity is open to conjecture.
The author draws a three-dimensional character in Miss Sidley, who starts out harsh and bitter, and ends up mousey and weak. As for Robert, one of her students? Frankly, the kid freaked me out!
King is an expert in character development, but I find some of his endings ambiguous. Suffer the Little Children falls into this category. If, however, his intent is to keep his readers pondering the multiple layers of his fiction, he is successful. My mind is still churning it over, a full day after finishing this short story.
Suffer the Little Children can be – in fact, should be – read in one sitting. There is a brief, profane rant by an addled Miss Sidley, not suited for younger audiences. It certainly makes a case for better screening of those who will teach our children.