The Innocence of Youth
Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a complex young man, filled with many observations about the world around him. Most of his comments tend to be negative and judgmental; however he appears much more enthusiastic and about his younger siblings, and even his past. Events and situations that occurred, both in his past and over the course of the novel, show signs of Holden’s affection for innocence. Children also allow Holden to appreciate the need for a more positive attitude in his struggle through depression. Lastly, objects and places that have an impact on Holden’s attitude and positivity, symbolize the purity of youth. Although Holden maintains a fairly negative state of mind throughout the novel, he always becomes uplifted by the mention or memory of innocence, something that he deeply cherishes and attempts to preserve in this murky world that he finds himself trapped in.
Events, both in the past and present, can bring innocence back into Holden’s thought path, causing him to feel an array of emotions. One of the most influential events that happened in Holden’s past was the death of his brother, and it has definitely taken a piece of Holden’s innocence. Allie’s death had a tremendous impact on Holden’s life, and it is one of the main causes of his depression: “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. It was a very stupid thing to do, I’ll admit, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it, and you didn’t know Allie” (Salinger 50). Although Allie is rarely mentioned in this novel, his death had a huge impact on Holden. The innocence of his younger brother had been lost with leukemia, which deeply saddened Holden. A plot event that also affected Holden’s innocence was the date that Stradlater and Jane went on. Holden knew about Stradlater’s nature with the girls that he dated, and he was very frustrated...
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