Jill McCorckle's Ferris Beach: Loss of Innocence

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The most enduring and fragile aspects of one's childhood remains naive innocence. In Jill McCorckle's Ferris Beach, Katie Burns grows up during the course of the novel, loosing her innocence in the process. Hardships, tragedies, and losses dramatically change a person's perception of the world around them. Katie, like almost all children, sees the world through naive and inexperienced eyes as a child, and her perception of the world is filtered through her own imagination and ideas about life. As the child grows up, they face turning points in their life, points when an unmerciful reality strips them of their innocence. Through a series of significant emotional events, Katie loses her own innocence, only to have a harsher, more flawed, and tragic view of the world replace it. An early plot line in the novel revolves around the emergence of the mystery-shrouded Angela Burns, Katie's cousin. Angela Burns becomes the model of perfection to Katie at a very early age in her life: "It was that day that I attached to Angela everything beautiful and lively and good" (5). Katie's naivete allows her to believe that a person can be perfect, and Katie aspires to one day be Angela. Throughout the novel, however, Angela's image of perfection slowly starts to unravel, and when Katie finally visits Angela's own home, the reality shatters the perfect image. When Katie enters Angela's apartment she sees, "dishes in her sink, sparse furnishings with sandy threadbare upholstery, a floor-to-ceiling lamp with adjustable lights like some kind of insect; a square of lime green shag carpet covered the center of the floor" (267). Such a dismal, repulsive apartment destroys the vision Katie has of Angela's perfect life. This enlightening experience re... ... middle of paper ... ...to deal with her own life better as a child. Now, Angela embarrasses and shames Katie for her innocent dreams as a child. Childhood fantasies often turn out to be just that, fantasies. Katie learns this lesson in a painful way, through the humiliation Angela places on her at a fragile time in Katie's life. Katie's childhood dream becomes a source of pain after Angela mocks her. In the journey from child to adult, many painful barriers must be passed through. In the case of Katie, her experiences with death, love, and imagination all end in hard-learned lessons; lessons which bring her out of innocence and into experience, an experience that seems more cruel and harsh than the image of the world she had as a child. Yet, all of life's roads remain covered with hardships, lessons and tragedies, and maybe the sooner we live to learn with them, the better.

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