Loss of Innocence
As we discussed in the introduction to the novel, loss of innocence is dominant theme in To Kill a Mockingbird. To review, loss of innocence goes hand in hand with coming of age. Coming of age is generally a more positive term, often accompanied by some ritual. For a good discussion of coming of age, check out the article on Toward the Examined Life‘s website. For a look at a few other books that explore loss of innocence, check out Liberty Falls Down.
Loss of innocence is such a common theme that you don’t even have to be reading great works of literature to encounter it. For your extra credit this six weeks, share a movie, television program, or modern novel you have read that explores the theme of loss of innocence. A key here is that you cannot choose something that is already generally accepted as literature, so no selecting Lord of the Flies (excellent loss of innocence novel, but not what we’re looking for here).
What do I do?
Once you’ve selected your work, explain how it explores loss of innocence. Who was innocent? How do you know that character was innocent when the novel/movie/etc. started? What happened to cause loss of innocence? Don’t just answer these questions in short answer format. Give us a discussion. To get you started, I’ll respond first below to give you an idea of how to write your answer. Once the recommendations start rolling in, respond to your classmates in a positive academic discussion.
The Fine Print:
All responses to be considered for extra credit must be submitted by September 19, 2016. The more active you are in the overall discussion, the more points you will get; you can earn up to 30 points to be added to any single major exam grade. Each work is first come, first served, so once someone has introduced a title, no one else can introduce it. To be eligible for extra credit, you must introduce a title. I will review comments once a day, generally in the afternoon. If you and another student submit the same title on the same day, the comment that is time-stamped the earliest will be the one approved. Once I read your comment and it appears on the website, you will know that your title is approved.
Check out my example below for guidance. Although I do have research to outside sources, you do NOT need to do this!
The Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader, the defender of Gotham City, whatever you call him, Batman has been an iconic figure in American pop culture practically since his first appearance in Detective Comics (now DC) in May 1939. (In fact, according to The Telegraph, Batman’s popularity has made this issue of Detective Comics is one of the world’s most valuable comic books, recently selling for $1,380,000– quite an increase in value from its initial 10 cent cover price!)
What you may not think about is how his origin story is a classic story of loss of innocence. For those of you who have been living under a rock, here is a quick version of the story. Bruce Wayne, the son of Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, is born into privilege and wealth, living with his parents in Wayne Manor until tragedy strikes. In the version of the story portrayed on the cartoon incarnation of Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the eight-year old Bruce Wayne is so insulated from reality that he coldly refuses a sentimental Christmas gift from his parents because they did not get him the present he really wanted. Trying to make it up to young Bruce, his parents take him to a movie after which they are murdered in an alley on the way home.
This traumatic event clearly marked the end of Bruce Wayne’s childhood. Although his wealth still insulated him in practical ways from the harsh world, the parents he had taken for granted were gone. According to author Tim Lott, at the cornerstone of the innocence of children is “the myth of the infinite power and goodness of parents.” Young Bruce learned that his seemingly all-powerful parents were mere mortals in the most cruel way of all. In his article in the Guardian, Lott goes on to say, “Innocence goes deeper than ignorance. It is some mysterious operation of the imagination, the part that can enter into mental universes from which one is soon to be forever excluded.” In that alley, Bruce Wayne was forever excluded from the universe in which parents can protect their children; the child Bruce died, and a new being was born.
From that night on, Bruce Wayne devotes his life to training so that he can rid the city of the type of evil that ripped his childhood from him and forced him to see the world as a dangerous place. Clearly the spoiled, protected, innocent child who he was before his parents’ murder exists no longer. The world he had lived in only hours before, in which the particular toy he received for Christmas, no longer existed. Of course, not all loss of innocence is this traumatic or sudden, but Gotham City’s Dark Knight was born when Bruce Wayne’s childhood innocence died.
Yes, I am a superhero geek. I love to watch Justice League, JLU, Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Young Justice…Well, you get the idea. I do really mainly like the cartoons; the movies just take themselves waaay too seriously, but I did really enjoy Jessica Jones.
So, what modern work of pop culture have you encountered that explores loss of innocence? Start the discussion below.