I really like Let the Right One In, it’s so gritty and dark and yet so modern that it’s easy to relate to despite the setting being in a foreign country. What makes it interesting is that Oskar and Eli are both outcasts, misfits in a way. What is it exactly that brings the two of them together? I believe it is their commonalities. Oskar is a 12 year old boy that is frequently picked on, humiliated and tormented by fellow classmates and children his own age.
Footsteps outside, voices. Pissball in hand, he fled into the nearest stall and locked the door at the same time as the outer door opened. He soundlessly climbed up onto the toilet seat, curling into a ball so his feet wouldn’t show if anyone looked under the door. Tried not to breathe.
Jonny, of course.
“Hey Piggy, are you here?” Micke was with him. The worst two of the lot. […] If the pissball were discovered, Thomas was the one who would really be able to use it to hurt and humiliate him for a long time. Jonny and Micke, on the other hand, would just beat him upand that was fine with him. So in a way he was actually lucky…
“Piggy? We know you’re in here.”
They checked his stall. Shook the door. Banged on it. Oskar wrapped his arms tightly around his legs and clenched his teeth so he wouldn’t scream.
Go away! Leave me alone! Why can’t you leave me alone?
“You’ll have to open the lid if you’re going to shit, you know. Go on, squeal like a pig.”
And Oskar squealed like a pig. (p.9-10)
He is not strong enough to stand up to them although he has a deep, dark violent side and violent daydreams of murder against his tormentors. This is his release, in a sense.
He thrust and thrust and thrust. After the first blow Jonny had realized this wasn’t going to be like those other times. With blood gushing from a deep cut on his cheek, he tried to escape but the Murderer was faster. With a couple of quick moves he sliced away the tendons at the back of the knees and Jonny fell down, lay writhing in the moss, begging for mercy.
But the Muderer wasn’t going to relent. Jonny was screaming…screaming like a pig…when the murderer threw himself over him and let the earth drink his blood.
Oskar also creates illusions, and voices to comfort himself.
“It’s over now, it’s enough. Understand? This is it.”
The clown didn’t answer.
“I’m not standing for this. Not even one more time. Understand?”
Oskar’s voice echoed in the empty bathroom.
“What should I do? What should I do, do you think?”
He twisted his face into a grimace until it hurt, distorted his voice by making it as raspy and low as he could. The clown spoke.
“…Kill them….kill them….kill them…” (p.95)
As for Eli, her escape seems to be leaving Hakan and the house and heading to the playground to be by herself.
“You here again?”
Oskar lifted his head, pretended to be surprised, let a few seconds pass and then:
“Why are you sitting here?”
“Why are you up there?”
“I came to be by myself.” (p.56)
Eli and Oskar also seem to rely on each other. Their times on the playground slowly becoming their escapes and as their relationship advances they each become stronger.
“Someone did that to you, didn’t they?”
“Some kids in my class.”
He slowed himself down with his feet, looked at the ground in front of him.
“Yes, what is it?”
“You know what?”
She reached her hand out and grabbed his and he stopped completely, looked at her. […] With her other hand she touched his wound and that strange thing happened. Someone else, someone much older, harder, became visible under her skin. A cold shiver ran down Oskar’s back as if he had bitten into a Popsicle.
“Oskar. Don’t let them do it. Do you hear me? Don’t let them.”
“You have to strike back. You’ve never done that, have you?”
“So start now. Hit them back. Hard.”
“There’s three of them.”
“Then you have to hit harder. Use a weapon.”
“Yes, but what if they…”
“Then I’ll help you.”
“You? But you are…”
“I can do it, Oskar. That…is something I can do.” (p.105-6)