THE PRICE OF INNOCENCE
Looking for Alaska// Forgive Me Leonard Peacock// Death of a Salesman// The Great Gatsby//Inside Job
Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.
Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol. But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart--obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.
Willy Loman, the protagonist of Death of a Salesman, has spent his life following the American way, living out his belief in salesmanship as a way to reinvent himself. But somehow the riches and respect he covets have eluded him. At age sixty-three, he searches for the moment his life took a wrong turn, the moment of betrayal that undermined his marriage and destroyed his relationship with Biff, the son in whom he invested his faith. Willy lives in a fragile world of elaborate excuses and daydreams, conflating past and present in a desperate attempt to make sense of himself and of a world that once promised so much.
//Innocence of Morals// Freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil.
A baby is born but not without the price of another mans death. But can someone truly ever be innocent if a life’s price is another's death. In just a newborn's pursuit of living of freeing itself from the womb does it sacrifice it’s innocence as the price it pays to enter this world. Just as Nick who is “inclined to reserve judgement” about the “riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart”(Fitzgerald 3)(Fitzgerald 4). The juxtaposition is laughable as a new nick emerges who cares nothing about “his secret pride”(Gatsby 189). And who in his haughty snobbish and obesely self righteous tone talks to tom “as if [he] were talking to a child”(Fitzgerald 190). An innocence of home and the Westward traditional home values he carried within himself were lost as his foundation became morally corrupted. He sinned against his snobbish moral code. Just as Leonard Peacock on his path of devastation sacrificed his innocence for a dream of sin and revenge and ultimate ending of his life. Death cannot be seen without losing one’s innocence just as killing cannot come with a price. A mere boy driven to rage and grief to commit the ultimate act of sin and evil. Leonard knows the price he will pay to commit this act and unflinchingly silently agrees to destroy his innocence to end the misery and pain that fills the void that has become his life.
//Innocence of Injustice//Freedom from harmfulness inoffensiveness.
//Death of Innocence//The state, quality, or virtue of being innocent
“That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it”(Green 144). In his pursuit of the kaleidoscopic Alaska Miles loses Alaska herself and with Alaska his innocence. Miles innocence about the reckless invincible lives that young teens live is destroyed by the crushing boots of death. Once again equivalent exchange. Innocence for life. This fear of loss miles experiences is the loss of part of his humanity. The childlike wonder naivety and exuberance that came with the innocence of the young. Those who had not been sullied yet by the depressions of adult life and the stresses and responsibilities of families. Like poor Jay Gatz who was burdened by the weight of poverty and a dreamless life continuously striving towards a deeply twisted American dream. “he is hyperventilating, breathing as if trying to blow air back into the dead” Miles and Gatsby both trying to breathe air back into the only women that carried their dreams with them as each woman slowly grew farther and farther from their grasp they felt in those moments “an intimate revelation quivering over the horizon”that their dreams were perhaps never meant to be achieved only left “[p]erhapsless, stuck in [their] goddamned labyrinth”(Green 143)(Fitzgerald 3)(Green 172). And as miles in his pursuit of loving Alaska drove her away into her death, he realized just as Leonard peacock did in the instant he knew he was going to kill his abuser and himself that “we are all suffering”(Green 172). The pursuit of each of these mens dreams of revenge of love, and a intangible twisted Daisy lead down a path in which their innocence was sacrificed for dream unachieveable.