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 replaces the perfect image of Angela that Katie holds onto in her mind with the human, slightly tawdry Angela. Angela finally displays the garish woman she really is: she resembles her furniture.
Another character that emerges early on in the novel as an idealized stereotype becomes the neighbor's mother, Mo Rhodes. Mo instantly becomes the best mom a daughter could have, she appears young, vibrant with life, and a loving mother. Even on Katie's first visit to the Rhodes's house, Katie wishes she could have Mo as her own mother: ÒI sat in the complete awe of this woman whose purple wooden earrings swung back and forth as she talked. I envied the silent girl across from me" (8). Katie, being in the house only a few minutes, decides that this woman is a perfect mother, flawless. Later, Katie describes her as: "the youngest mother I had ever known and the only one who ever would let us eat all the s'mores we wanted" (28). Katie feels Mo's youth allows her to understand her own daughter, and she allows her daughter to do as she pleases, eating s'mores being an example. Katie's own mother pales in comparison, she seems out-of-date and strict to the youthful, whimsical Mo.
Mo's image as the perfect mother...