Innocence in “The Bluest Eye” and “13 Reasons Why”

Both “The Bluest Eye” and “13 Reasons Why” similarly have the idea of the loss of “Innocence” in childhood. In the keyword essay “Innocence,” we learn that during the 19th century, children were considered to be blank slates that need to be filled with content. Their childhood should be a time of happiness of lack of responsibility. Therefore, they should be protected from the “sins” of the world. Yet, we see that not all gender or socioeconomic class gets the privilege of being protected. In fact, some might get exposed to sexual or violence, or worse, receive sexual or physical violence. At the same time, they are then said to be stripped of childhood innocence as they are exposed to sexual activity.

We see this happening in the book, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison where Pecola is said to be stripped of childhood innocence as she got raped. She is said to be ruined even though the sex was non-consensual. Therefore, her “ruined identity” was constructed completely out of her control. The people around her respond by judging her harshly and blaming her, instead of doing what they should have done, protecting this child.

Similarly, the popular TV show, “13 Reasons Why,” talks about the same issue. It is a show where Hannah Baker, a high school girl gets raped and finally suicides. Throughout the show, she is judged by her schoolmates for being promiscuous, by false allegations of being sexual with boys. Therefore, we are on Hannah’s sides as she was innocent yet falsely judged. But what if she was not falsely accused, what if she did engaged in those sexual acts, will we still be on her side? Would that make the bullying or judgements from her schoolmates less wrong then? I realise that in this society, women do not get the same privilege as man, to be sexually free. Boys openly boast about the girl they slept with the night before, yet women are called “whores” or “cheap” if they were to sleep around. Why is there this double standard?

The keyword essay may give some insight as it says one loses one’s innocence, starts the act of sin, when engaged in sexual behavior. Therefore, is that why there is such a stigma for girls who are more promiscuous? Why is there not a similar stigma for boys who are more promiscuous then? Where did the idea of girls as “pure” and “clean” come from? Is it right for us to judge these girls as “cheap” or “whores,” if they choose to be more promiscuous?

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