The theme of fear is central to the short story “The Boogeyman” by Stephen King. The narrative is focused on the fear of Lester and that of his children. It also aims to induce a feeling of fear, or at least unease, in the reader.
The boogeyman is a monster used to scare children into being well-behaved. In the story, it can kill simply by striking fear in its victims, as in the case of Denny and Shirl. There are no signs of violence on Denny’s body, which leads to the official diagnosis of crib death. He is found dead on his back and “white as flour” which suggests that he might have died of fright. Lester remarks when mentioning Shirl’s death that “You can scare a kid into convulsions” (p. 6, ll. 13-14), suggesting that it was also the fear that killed her.
Lester’s own fear of the monster is so great that it proves to be more powerful than his parental instinct to protect his children. This is revealed when he moves Andy into the other room, specifically for the boogeyman to go after An...