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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith: The Loss of Innocence

The importance of this theme within the novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is
inevitable to ignore, since the psychological insight of Jimmie has changed as he
gains more experiences in his early stage of adulthood.
There are several possible angles to look at in order to verify and determine the
cause of this loss in the protagonists. Because Jimmie constantly faces unfair
situations in his job, he would face racial discrimination from people at everywhere,
including from his own tribe; and the worst of all, he does not seem to have any
chance to escape from the society that suppresses him.
One of the causes for the exchange of innocence in Jimmie is a negative influence
brought up by a character called Farrell. "He enjoyed putting terror into lusty
boyhood" like appeared on page 38. A common insult from people to Jimmie would
be: "We Europeans are so poor in spirit that the best we can do is laugh at
primitive people who, in my experience, always have something, God knows what
it is, but something" (page 47, said by the superior cook ). Apart from it all, the
biggest impact that strikes Jimmie's innocence is the frustration that he confronts.
For instance, Jimmie believes that "having a white wife and a good reputation for
work must be the combination for a man's good." ( page 53 ). Yet, Jimmie is forced
to get marry to a white girl because of her pregnancy, and would find out later that
the baby is not even his. Jimmie could hardly obtain a positive reputation from his
job because he always receives unfair treatment and abuses from his bosses. As all
of these feelings accumalate in Jimmie as time passes by, the hatred in Jimmie
grows and grows until he is finally pushed to the limit in which he actually commits
murder. Jimmie finds out through his actions that killing is not as hard as people
are led to believe; a very good example that Jimmie has lost his innocence, the
idea that Jimmie has lost all respect for the life of a person, and takes it at his will
and pleasure.
Jimmie has already gone through his initiation, which consisted of a sort of
banishment from the tribe and a short period of time living away from everybody
in isolation. That is the first instance of him losing his innocence, the fact that he is
already considered a man. He now must face harsh realities as he is then supposed
to find work and a life for himself. He marries a white girl whose name is Gilda. This
sort of estranges him from both the tribe and the white world, which adds to his
On the other hand, this loss of innocence is essential for the growth of a man,
because as a person gains more experiences in life, the alertness of self-defense
increases too. Therefore, what Jimmie is going through is not necessary something
negative, but a loss that helps to construct his own conscience of his being as a
Another purpose of this theme can contribute to the fact that the author tries to
portray an objective picture of the novel, and that is standing on the side of Jimmie
which shows us the sufferments that he went through, and therefore there is
definitely an explaination for Jimmie's distorted behaviors. The rise of
comprehensiveness in Jimmie enforces us to analyze and treat this social issue
So, all the different purposes of this theme that are discussed previously can make
up a link with other themes as well, and it is for sure that this theme can be used
as one of the tools in order to justify and defend Jimmie's point of view. This does
not necessarily justify murder, it is only a method that the author uses to show the
motives behind Jimmies actions.
--Michelle Lin, Nicolas Duran