Innocence And The Catcher In The Rye

824 words - 3 pages

The innocence of childhood is eventually ripped away from us all. In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield wishes to dedicate his life to preserving the innocence of everyone. Holden wants to save what was so cruelly ripped away from him with the death of his brother. Holden at first believes that he can be "The Catcher in the Rye," but he eventually comes to understand that it is both impossible and wrong to attempt such a thing. At first, Holden wants to dedicate his life to the preservation of innocence. When he was a child, his innocence was lost when his brother Allie dies. He cannot come to terms with the death, and wishes to return to his happy childhood with Allie. However, he believes he can find solace by saving the innocence of others. Even his name seems to imply that he is trying to "hold on" to childhood. Perhaps he even is trying to regain his own lost childhood through others. "I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff…. I just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy but that's the only thing I'd really like to be" (173). His only goal in life is to save children from taking a terrible fall, in essence sheltering the children from their own mistakes. Holden is so obsessed with this concept that he even refuses to sleep with a prostitute that he has paid for. He is so saddened by her lost innocence that he cannot bring himself to go through with it. Also, he is disproportionately upset that his roommate may have had sex with his childhood friend because he still thinks of her as the sweet innocent girl of his childhood. The fact that she may have lost her innocence drives him even further into depression. Finally, Holden's little sister Phoebe is the ultimate symbol of his obsession with his lost childhood. She represents the last remaining figure of sweet innocence in Holden's life. In fact, when asked to name the people he likes, of the three people he can come up with, Phoebe is the only one that is still alive. When she threatens to lose her innocence and become like Holden, he begins to despise her for it. "I almost hated her. I think I hated her most because she wouldn't be in that play...

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