Loss of Childhood Innocence: the Transition to Adulthood

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Society is filled with corrupt adults, which makes it inevitable for the loss of childhood innocence as children enter into the adult world. Some say that society can change and take a turn for the better, and though it may not be filled with honest, pure hearted people, it can be more genuine and more about the heart and less about success and materialistic pursuits. Others say that society cannot change and that it will continue to be corrupt and filled with selfish individuals, regardless of whether or not there are a few who are truly honest. In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield categorizes anyone, usually an adult, who is insincere as phony and runs away from the corrupt adult world, ultimately demonstrating that the world would be a better place if it’s filled with children’s innocence and purity; however, he finds that such a world is impossible, for people can’t help but to grow up into the phony world of adults no matter how much they don’t want to.

Most teens or adolescents are already corrupted or tainted by society for they have already accepted and embraced the ways of adulthood and are old enough to understand how society works; thus, they are phony starting from a relatively young age. For example, Holden’s classmate and roommate, “Ward Stradlater, initially appear[s] sophisticated, but [he is really a phony]. Stradlater seems good-looking, but he is secretly a slob who never cleans his rusty old razor. He also appears to be a successful student but is really an ungrateful egotist who gets other people to do his assignments” (“The Catcher in the Rye” 4). On the outside Stradlater seems like a perfect citizen – clean, well-groomed, handsome, charming, smart, and hard working. In reality, however, he is actually a slob who doesn’t clean his daily necessities, such as his razor, and contrary to how he appears to be an intellectual individual, he arranges for another student to finish the assignments for him. The fact that he acts and looks differently in front of others than his true personality defines him as a phony member of society; though he is only a teenager, because he already follows the phonies of society, he is grown up and entered into the adult world of corruption and deception. In addition, because he is handsome he is popular among girls and finds himself going on dates with many of them. All of the girls think he genuinely likes them for he whispers flattering words into their ears that makes it sound as if he loves them with all of his heart; however, “he has only one thing on his mind, and that is sexual conquest” (Alsen 3). Stradlater prides himself with the fact that he has had sex with many girls and that he is popular with the girls. He continues to try to prove to his peers as well as himself that his sexual prowess is one to be jealous of, entailing him to lie and deceive girls’ hearts and minds and acting like he loves them when he doesn’t. Stradlater’s actions further prove that adolescents fully grasp the phoniness of adults demolishing the pure child-like innocence within them. Virtually all adults in society are phony because in order to survive in society, they live lives that are not sprung from the genuine feelings of the heart but out of personal want and gain. Holden Caulfield gives the example that “lawyers are all right if they are committed to saving innocent people’s lives. But that’s not what lawyers do. All they do is make tons of money, play golf, buy expensive cars, and drink Martinis” (Alsen 3). Caulfield brings to light the fact that people pursue careers and other goals not to help others but to help themselves. If someone becomes a lawyer to truly help those in need, then he/she is a truly honest person; however, most people become lawyers for the rich benefits they can receive from being a lawyer such as a lot of money, expensive cars, and a high ranking status in society. Because they view materialistic pursuits more important than saving...
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