I’m the King of the Castle

Moths Symbol Icon

The Hooper family owns a vast collection of dead moths, which have been preserved, classified, and arranged in glass display cases. Edmund Hooper seems to enjoy looking through this collection, but Charles Kingshaw finds it utterly terrifying. As Hill describes them, moths are important symbols of the natural world, albeit a natural world that has been brought under the control of human beings. It’s no coincidence that Edmund finds the moths fascinating: Edmund is obsessed with the idea of asserting his power over others, and the sight of thousands of moths in their cases seems to appeal to his love for control. That Charles, on the other hand, is shown to be repulsed by the dead moths symbolizes his love of nature in its wild and unrestrained form—and his dread of the control Edmund wields over him.

Moths Quotes in I’m the King of the Castle

The I’m the King of the Castle quotes below all refer to the symbol of Moths. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Property and Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of I’m the King of the Castle published in 1977.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He stretched out his hand, put his finger under the head of the pin and slid it up, out of the thick, striped body. At once, the whole moth, already years dead, disintegrated, collapsing into a soft, formless heap of dark dust.

Related Characters: Edmund Hooper
Related Symbols: Moths, The Red Room
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

He imagined the furry body of the moth against the pads of Hooper's fingers. He was ashamed of being so afraid, and could not help it, he only wanted to get out, to stop having to see the terrible moths. Hooper watched him. There was a moment when they both stood, quite still, waiting. Then, Hooper whipped around and pushed past Kingshaw without warning he was out of the door, turning the key sharply in the lock. After a moment, his footsteps went away down the hall. A door closed somewhere.

Related Characters: Charles Kingshaw, Edmund Hooper
Related Symbols: Moths, The Red Room
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
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Moths Symbol Timeline in I’m the King of the Castle

The timeline below shows where the symbol Moths appears in I’m the King of the Castle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Property and Class Theme Icon
Imprisonment and Escape Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...this purpose. Instead, Edmund’s grandfather began using the Red Room to house his collection of moths and butterflies. The room is full of display cases containing the dead insects. Joseph has... (full context)
Property and Class Theme Icon
Imprisonment and Escape Theme Icon
Late at night, Edmund walks through the Red Room, looking at the moths in their cases. He knows that there is a small key, kept inside a Bible... (full context)
Chapter 3
Property and Class Theme Icon
Fear and Psychological Manipulation Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...opens the door, and leads Charles inside, telling him that there’s a huge collection of moths within. Charles doesn’t like the sight of dead moths and he hesitates. Edmund makes fun... (full context)
Chapter 7
Property and Class Theme Icon
Childhood Theme Icon
Fear and Psychological Manipulation Theme Icon
Imprisonment and Escape Theme Icon
...cocky, since he can tell that Charles is still frightened of him. Edmund whispers that moths will come out at night. In spite of himself, Charles becomes afraid. He tells himself... (full context)
Chapter 11
Fear and Psychological Manipulation Theme Icon
...tell everyone that Charles is a baby. He claims that the students cut up dead moths in science class, and Charles becomes so frightened and furious that he threatens to kill... (full context)
Chapter 16
Property and Class Theme Icon
Childhood Theme Icon
...is very scared of what’s inside. In the Red Room, Fielding is delighted by the moths. Edmund says, “Dare you touch one?” and Fielding replies, “Yes. They’re only dead things. They... (full context)
Property and Class Theme Icon
Imprisonment and Escape Theme Icon
...selling the collection, but Helena argued, within earshot of Charles, that they should keep the moths, since the boys might one day want them. In this moment, Charles thought that his... (full context)