Study Guide

Passion Innocence

By Alice Munro

Innocence

It was the principal who knew the manager of the inn…He too mentioned getting a taste of life. (29)

It sounds like the principal might have thought Grace still had a bit of growing up to do after graduating high school at age 20. "Getting a taste of life" is usually understood as a good and important thing, but what exactly does it mean? What is Grace supposed to get a taste of?

</em>He wore bathing shoes when he went into the water. (12)

Munro's descriptions might suggest certain characters' innocence or adultness (and by "adultness" we mean the bad kind of adultness, the crushed and boring kind that draws someone to wear sandals to swim). Contrast Mr. Travers' cautious shoe wearing with Grace's bare feet that she slices on the shell. Would Neil have died had she been a bit more responsible and worn a pair of shoes around the yard? 

He sensed, perhaps, that it was cold. A deliberate offering which he could not understand and which did not fit in at all with his notions of her. (66)

In the case of Maury's reluctance to initiate sex, innocence is cast in a negative light. There's a sense of exasperation with Maury's reluctance, as if it's an inability of some sort. 

</em>Churches aren't always safe. (204)

Besides functioning as some pretty great sexual innuendo, Grace's comment here does a lot of work to suggest a loss of innocence, or maybe a desire <em>for </em>a loss of innocence.