September 25, 2017
Innocence Transition into Experience
Innocence is perceived in our society as a desirable trait. It is at odds with guilt making it the preferred of the two. Innocence however, can be at odds with experience as well. In this case, innocence can weigh down an individual and disallow them from being as elevated as they could. In the short story, Blue Bouquet, a man is visiting a town when one night he decides to take a walk in the dark. He begins his journey in awe of the town, but is soon aware of the dangers that lurk in the corners. As he is walking he confronts the antagonist who desires a bouquet of blue eyes. Spared by the encounter for having brown eyes, the protagonist, shaken, leaves town the next day. In Octavio Paz’s short story, Blue Bouquet, he presents the idea that the escape of ignorance is the driving force towards the transition between innocence and experience, because in ignorance an individual will make mistakes that result in eventful experiences. However, innocence must be kept in moderation as without it one may become weary and engulfed with situations out of their control. Without innocence, the joy and bliss in life may be lost.
Ignorance consumes the human being, and the way that it is warded off is through the gathering of knowledge that we obtain with experience. It is the loss of ignorance that constitutes the loss of innocence. At the beginning of the story the protagonist is ignorant of his surroundings, and fails to take due precaution. While in his room, he remains, “barefoot” (p.163) even though there may be, “scorpions leaving [their] hideouts” (p. 163). The protagonist is oblivious to the danger of his surroundings which is shown in his choice to take a walk, even though it is pitch black, with, “no streetlights around” (p.163) and he is alone in a foreign town. An individual who has experience with danger would understand that these predicaments do not correlate to a joyful stroll. Octavio Paz presents this idea through the symbolic meaning of the wall, it is the colour white which traditionally is a symbol for purity and innocence. However, when the moon, “appear[s] from behind a black cloud” (p.163), the speaker is, “blinded by the whiteness” (p.163). Keeping innocence in too large a quantity allows it to become blinding; it blocks the knowledge and ideas that can only be accessed through experience. In the end, shaken by his experience the protagonist makes the knowledgeable, rational choice to “[leave] town” (p.165). He has realised the insecurities of the town are not worth the risk. His blindness due to ignorance has lifted and uses the knowledge of his experiences to seek safety. A simple way to avoid being consumed by innocence is to embrace experiences that provide needed knowledge for proper decision making.
The transition between innocence and experience is necessary and inevitable, as some time or later innocence is drawn to experience. Paz depicts this with the symbol of the cigarette and its simile as a comet, noting that, “It drew a shining curve…like a tiny comet” (p.164). The comet in this case represents innocence, as it is the brightness in the dark, nighttime sky. Nonetheless it will always disappear and may not be seen for a lifetime. This transition is a necessity as remaining in full innocence may have unintended consequences. In the analogy of the comet the larger and larger it appears to us earth, the closer it is to crashing and wreaking havoc. In terms of innocence, the larger and larger it is allowed to manifest, the greater the chances are of problems occurring. Innocence in the protagonist manifests at the point where the machete, “grazes [his] eyelids” (p.165) in an attempt to remove his eyes. Following the lines of light, another significant symbol is the cigarette itself; its fire represents innocence in a similar way to the comet. As the fire in the cigarette burns out it gets closer to extinction. While the speaker has the lit cigarette he holds a romanticized view of his surroundings. He remarks that he, “felt free” (p.164) and full of, “such happiness” (p.164). It is only slightly after the fire burns out and he, “[throws] [his] cigarette down” (p.164) that his innocence wanes and experience grows. Experience is necessary so that the same mistakes are not made twice and they are learning form. If the antagonist were to gain experience with human morals and ethics, he would be not make rash decisions and understand that his girlfriend’s, “whim [for]… a bouquet of blue eyes” (p.164) is not referring to actual human eyes. Eventually, the antagonist will gain knowledge from his experiences carving out eyes and realize that that is not what his girlfriend wants. Transitioning from innocence to experience is inevitable and no matter the circumstances the transition is required and necessary.
Innocence cannot be simply abandoned as the experience on its own would be overwhelming to an individual. Lacking innocence results in the loss of everyday joy and bliss. Symbolically the image represents this is the eye. Its traditional symbol being its intellectual insight. More specifically the association of the blue eye to the notion of innocence, in contrast to that of the brown eye. Blue eyes are typically associated with children as many are born with blue eyes that change to brown as they grow older and develop pigment. In the sense of the short story the town and its inhabitants are examples of lack of innocence. Describing the boarding-house owner, the speaker focuses on his eyes, with the owner’s description being a, “one-eyed taciturn fellow” (p.163), with his good eye, “half-closed” (p.163). By missing one eye and the other obscured, it shows that he has lost a large portion of his innocence. This has shaped the man to become reserved and quiet; he has lost joy and bliss in his life. The town itself is a place that personifies the loss of joy and innocence. Deficiency of blue eyes in the town correlates with the absence of innocence. Analyzing the antagonist’s speech, “around here [blue eyes] are hard to find” (p.164) this absence is seen. Joy and happiness that innocence provide have been lost in town, and it has become a place of darkness. When the protagonist leaves the boarding-house he, “plunges into darkness” (p.163) as the town, “has no streetlights” (p.163). Being a major characteristic of the town and represents the abyss of happiness and joy that it is. As light represent innocence, darkness is the absence of it. Following the word choice of the speaker, “plunging into the darkness” intensifies this insight as plunging creates the idea that it is similar to an abyss or a black hole in which it is difficult to escape. Without the innocence in their lives the people of the town have lost the joy and bliss that life has to offer.
The dynamic nature of innocence in humans allows for the rises and falls of experience in us. Too much innocence results in blindness of the truth and the real world. Too much experience results in the loss of joy, bliss, and happiness that life offers. It is a fine line to walk, especially when the transition is inevitable and necessary for human development. The effect of such on human society is that knowledge and happiness are two ideals that are constantly striven for. In Octavio Paz’s short story Blue Bouquet, the reader should learn that the escape of ignorance and the need to acquire knowledge is the driving force towards the transition between innocence and experience as ignorance in an individual will cause mistakes that result in eventful experience. Yet, innocence must be kept in moderation as without it an individual will become weary and engulfed with situations out of their control. Without innocence, the bliss and joy in life may be lost.
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