What is a savage quote in "The Boogeyman" by Stephen King?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stephen King’s short story “The Boogeyman” tells the story of a father unburdening himself to a psychologist about the deaths of his three children. Over the course of the story, the reader is left to wonder who the “boogeyman” really is—is it the closet-inhabiting monster who is blamed by the father, or is it the father himself, or is it both?

The father’s attitude toward his wife and his children certainly brings him under suspicion. His beliefs could be said to be “savage” based on several things he tells the psychologist.

After telling the doctor how his second child died, he said,

When they're that little, you don't get so attached to them. After a while you have to go to the bureau drawer and look at a picture to even remember exactly what they looked like.

For a parent to feel this way after several of his children have died is to betray a lack of appropriate parental love and devotion.

His attitude toward his wife also shows a failure to value others. The main character said this following his wife’s trauma over the death of their second child:

'She still loved me,' Billings said with pride. 'She still wanted to do what I told her. That's the wife's place, right? This women's lib only makes sick people. The most important thing in life is for a person to know his place.

Obviously, he does not see his wife as an equal partner in his life. He believes that she is inferior to him and should be treated as such.

Finally, when the main character realized that the boogeyman was coming after his third child, he fears for his own life. He actually sacrifices his own son, who he called his favorite, to save himself:

'So I moved him. I knew it would go for him, see. Because he was weaker. And it did.

These instances show a savage attitude on the part of the main character toward the people he should be most concerned with protecting.