Study Guide

Sling Blade Innocence

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Loss of innocence is a complicated thing. It never boils down to one definable moment, like the death of a parent, or losing your virginity, or finding out that Velveeta isn't really cheese—although if all those things happened at once, you'd instantly be an adult, and that would be one of the weirdest days in your life.

Most people lose their innocence by degrees. They can try to stave it off, but that's like putting a finger in a dam. It's going to break at some point, but even if it doesn't, what's the point of saving it?

Sling Blade is a movie about preserving innocence. Salvaging innocence by murdering another person seems like a strange way to go about things, but as we said, innocence is complicated.

Questions About Innocence

  1. Is Karl naïve to try and preserve Frank's innocence? Is he doing the kid a disservice by trying to keep him from growing up?
  2. What are the key moments in Frank's loss of innocence? Is it possible for him ever to reclaim his childhood?
  3. Karl has an air of innocence about him, even though he is a convicted killer. Can murder ever be an innocent act? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Karl is born without innocence, which makes seeing the loss of Frank's innocence even more tragic to him. He hates to see Frank losing something he never had himself.

Both Karl and Doyle are father figures in a way for Frank, but while Karl is determined to preserve Frank's innocence, Doyle seems to be trying to destroy it.

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