One can see Eli as being innocent because of her age, if for no other reason. As for regretting that she killed Jocke, I lean toward (but do not insist upon) her tears being for herself, that her curse makes her live isolated and wretched. That she restrained herself from killing Oskar could be seen as Eli still being a human child at heart.
I don't think Eli is innocent just because of her age. Children are not automatically innocent, just ask the bullies. Eli is innocent because all she wants to do is live. And it would be so easy for her to be defined by her vampirism or give up and take into the sunlight. But she doesn't, and not only does she survive, she doesn't lose herself; she never becomes deprived like the woman or the vampire lord. I would compare Eli to being like a political prisoner for decades and still retaining empathy for her jailers. It's amazing.
I think I disagree. Eli is not innocent. Eli is a monster. Eli probably is still a child at heart. After all, in every scene in the film where Eli appears and is not being monstrous, he is portrayed as a child. Whatever the essence of Eli's character, Eli is still a monster. And Eli is an outsider because he is a monster.
Oskar, too, is an outsider, but for reasons that are more prosaic, and I would say those reasons are ultimately more disturbing. Unlike Eli, Oskar is not an outsider because of any aspect of himself. Oskar is an outsider because of the attributes of the those around him. The brutality and cruelty of his peers, the indifference to his plight by the authority figures around him (save for the concern shown by by Avila), and inattention by both of his parents are what cement his outsider status.
To look at being an outsider from a different viewpoint, being an outsider means that you are being denied acceptance. That brings me to what is, for me, one of the main messages of this story: Love is all about acceptance. Both Oskar and Eli crave the acceptance that they are being denied. By the end of the story, you believe that Oskar loves Eli. Oskar is able to love Eli not because he can ignore that Eli is a monster. Oskar is able to love Eli because he accepts
Eli as a monster.
Part of the genius of this story is that, despite the way it unflinchingly portrays Eli as a monster (albeit perhaps a sympathetic one), we still understand how Oskar could come to love him. We believe Oskar's acceptance. A key moment happens when, immediately after Oskar has witnessed a graphic demonstration of what Eli does, he still seals that acceptance with an awkward and incredibly sweet kiss. In order to underscore this acceptance, to make it seem incredible, to make it seem that acceptance is fiercely intertwined with love, it is essential to the story that Eli not
be innocent. Eli must be as difficult to accept as he could possibly be, yet still have it be believable that anyone could love him.
It is for this reason that Oskar, too, must an outsider. There must be a reason that he looks for acceptance from Eli. The story provides this reason by showing that, as an outsider, he can find it nowhere else. Eli accepts his fantasies of violent revenge. Eli is willing to try Oskar's candy even though it makes him violently ill. Eli is the only one who reacts with concern to evidence of Oskar's bullying, and offers forthrightly to help. The novel deals more explicitly with Oskar's struggle to accept Eli and his concerns about being accepted by Eli, but that is a topic for a different forum.
I believe that by making us believe that Oskar loves Eli, this story is teaching us lesson about love and acceptance. This is why I disagree that Eli is innoccent. I believe that if we love Eli, we should stop denying that he is a monster, and just accept it.