Death of Innocence

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She [Ginger] kept jamming the umbrella ple into the sand, but the point would not set properly. The tip proved to be covered with shell and yolk, which at first glance didn't present itself as such but which, as her mother continued to stab and root about and raise and plunge the pole again and again, became more adamantly shell and yolk. Ginger had selected a sea turtle's next for their umbrella site and had scrambled its leathery contents to a briny batter.

--Williams, pg 138

We already know (by the title of the novel) that this book has a lot of references to death; however, this particular passage, as well as several others in the second hundred pages have references to symbolism of the "death of innocence." The killing of the sea turtles is an excellent example, especially because at the end of the chapter, Annabel remembers that this dream was actually a memory. It seems like the majority of the "death of innocence" involves animals. The death of Tommy. The sea turtles. The ram. The birds in the Birder's cabin. The way in which these deaths are depicted infuse pity and empathy in the hearts of William's readers.

I mentioned this in class, but it's still bugging me...why is it that we feel more pity for dead animals than we do for humans. Actually, I felt a lot of pity for Annie from the nursing home as well--the one who has no idea that her husband has passed away. It's a curious thought that we return to such an innocent state the older we get. They always say that humans turn babies when they reach elderly age.

Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting that there are so many references to the death of innocence. The birds, for example, are a great example, because people kill entire families of birds just for the sake of collecting them. In a way it's similar to Annabel's love of "the inessentials." You'd think that birders would want to keep the birds alive--but instead, they choose to collect them. They destroy innocence.

4 Comments

Jessica Orlowski said:

This was one of the more memorable parts of the book for me, and is more revelatory (is that even a word?) of Annabel than of Ginger. We all assumed that Ginger is conniving and cruel. After all, she doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself. Of course, we can't know if she was like this while she was alive or if death brought out the worst in her, but Williams has made Ginger's abrasive personality quite clear. Up until now, though, I've just assumed Annabel to be shallow, but I think that this memory scarred her at a young age. I think that her innocence was lost because of this memory a long time before we met her.

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

Annabel was definitely scarred for life after that moment. The fact that she relives the memory in her dreams furthers that point, and then, when she thinks it was a redundant dream because it was actually a memory, this makes readers wonder if she's not in denial as well. You'd think that Cater would've put her into therapy after her mother died rather than just moving her to a completely unrelated place.

Aja Hannah said:

I'm sure Ginger didn't purposefully pick that site and mean to kill animals (who I also felt more sympathy for than these girls), but it is also her lack of emotion or upset at what she had done that really seeps into the reader and (I suppose) Annabel.

What's interesting about this scene is also that Annabel (as we discussed) may come from Annabel Lee (Poe's poem) and she also experienced death at the beach.

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

I really like the connection to Annabel Lee that you made. I probably never would've came up with that connection on my own. And, I agree that Annabel was probably most affected by this tragedy not because of the death of the unborn turtles, but because her mother showed no emotion, sympathy or otherwise after discovering what she's done. Your point about Annabel Lee does fit with my idea of Annabel's innocence dying. Both "deaths" occurred on the beach.

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Jessie on Death of Innocence: I really like the connection t
Aja Hannah on Death of Innocence: I'm sure Ginger didn't purpose
Jessie on Death of Innocence: Annabel was definitely scarred
Jessica Orlowski on Death of Innocence: This was one of the more memor