Innocence & Thirteen Reasons Why

The new Netflix original series “Thirteen Reasons Why” is based on Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult novel, and it follows a plotline of events that lead to high school student, Hannah Baker, killing herself, that are told from her viewpoint through pre-recorded tapes. Each tape is geared towards an individual person and their specific actions that lead to her suicide. The first tape illustrates when Hannah lost her innocence in the eyes of her peers when a boy shares a picture that was accidently taken of up her skirt, ultimately spreading a rumor that they had sex. According to Marah Gubar’s piece “Innocence” in Keywords for Children’s Literature, innocence is defined as “freedom from sin, guilt, or moral wrong” (121). However, at this point in her story, Hannah is no longer seen as an innocent child despite not participating in any activity that could be seen as immoral. As the series continues, this individual incident causes a downward spiral of disaster after disaster in Hannah’s life. In one of the last episodes, viewers discover that Hannah was raped by a star athlete from her high school. Whatever shred of innocence Hannah still “had” was completely gone now, which was not a choice she made; it was something that was abruptly taken away from her. On page 127, Gubar quotes Richard Halpern: “carefree innocence is still a luxury many children cannot afford.” Innocence does not always coincide with childhood, and especially in Hannah’s case, being “innocent” is not always a choice a child, or any person for that matter, has to make.

4 thoughts on “Innocence & Thirteen Reasons Why”

  1. I really liked how you were able to make the connection with the keyword and the Netflix series. It is really interesting how innocence comes into play when thinking about the show. I agree with you that being “innocent” is not just something or a choice that you ultimately have to make in your life. Overall great job!

  2. I have not seen this TV series, but it sounds saddening. I think you bring up some very valid points about innocence. It is difficult to measure this idea of children’s innocence. Is it taken from a child once they have performed sexual acts, or do they lose it once they have knowledge of sexual acts? I think this is difficult to answer with full assurance. also, I think that Richard Halpern brings up such a good point that innocence is a luxury and a privilege. Not every child is fortunate enough to grow up and maintain their innocence. It may be ripped away without a choice involved. Innocence is a complex idea, and it is difficult to measure when a child has it, or has lost it.

  3. Good connection to the show! The keyword innocence really helps to show how vulnerable an individual’s innocence to be damaged by other people. As heart wrenching as this show is I feel as though it puts many aspects of “coming of age” into perspective and makes others aware of how their actions can damage others.

  4. I think you really did a good job of explaining the connection of the Keywords Innocence and this TV show. The way she is treated in the show is super sad and shows how around adolescence many people lose their innocence before they should

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