In addition to the great response above that has much to do with the physical and/or sexual loss of innocence, the characters also experience the loss of innocence through self and societal perceptions. For example, early in the novel, Claudia says that she hates little white baby dolls because people love them. She furthers this by saying that she also hates Shirley Temple because Temple is seen as the quintessential little girl. Claudia realizes that she, her sister, and other little girls in her neighborhood look nothing like Temple or little white baby dolls, and Claudia must resist feeling like she is not as worthy as little white girls. Children in their innocence should feel like they are special and beautiful; however, Claudia has lost this because societal perceptions tell her otherwise.
When looking at the loss of innocence, the two girls become aware of what it means through the presence of Pecola. She comes into their home because she has no where to live. They know that her father had burned up the home so she has no where else to stay. They discuss how being put out is totally different than being put outdoors.
"If you are put out, you go somewhere else; if you are outdoors, there is no place to go."(17)
Poland is talking to Marie about selling tail. She shares that the first time she had told her aunt that she had had sex her aunt whipped her.
"My auntie whipped me good that first time that I told her I didn't get no money. I said "Money?" For What?"(55)
Pecola is robbed of her innocence in many ways and by different situations.
When the light skinned new girl Maureen walks home with the girls she acts like she wants to be Pecola's friend. She buys her ice cream. Once she has baited her, she begins to question Pecola about seeing a naked man and questions her about seeing her own dad naked. It all hits before Pecola can really see it coming and it leaves her hurt and slumped.
Junior tricks Pecola telling her that he has a kitten. Pecola loves kittens and follows him to see it. He slams the door and shuts her in a room. Once she finds the cat in the room she is comforted. He then goes into the room and starts pulling on her clothing, but when his mother hears them they are struggling and the cat gets thrown and killed. Geraldine screams at Pecola and curses her. Pecola has lost another part of her innocence.
Pauline, Pecola's mother lost her innocence in her marriage to Choley and through having children. She had to go to work and work hard to provide for the family. Because of her loss of her own childhood that had slipped away, she developed a hatred for any thing such as dreams and mythical ideas.