Independent Novel Study
In today’s world, innocence cannot be preserved forever. As humans age, they lose their innocence due to the corruption that exists in society. This is demonstrated in the two novels, Catcher in the Rye and Frankenstein. The two authors, J.D. Salinger and Mary Shelley prove this statement through their use of various literary devices. Key characters in both novels- Holden and the creature- learn through personal experiences that innocence cannot, in fact, be preserved forever, and they both face the reality of corruption.
The use of allusions in both novels plays a big role in assisting the authors with introducing the message of innocence and corruption. The most obvious use of an allusion in Catcher in the Rye is the reference to the poem “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” written by Robert Burns. J.D. Salinger mentions this poem a few times throughout the novel; however the most significant use of it in relation to the theme of innocence is during a conversation between Holden and his younger sister, Phoebe. She asks him what he wants to do with his life and Holden refers to the poem and says: “What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff- I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going” (Salinger 173). Using this interpretation of the poem Salinger is able to express Holden’s desire to preserve not only his own innocence but the innocence of all children. Holden wishes to save children from the corruption that comes with entering adulthood, because he associates adulthood with being equivalent to death. However, Holden must soon realize that innocence does not last forever and that he must accept that he will naturally face corruption. Salinger references “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” to explain the meaning behind the title of the novel, Catcher in the Rye and to prove the point that, try as one might, innocence cannot be held onto forever; eventually, the corruption of society wipes out the...
Cited: Salinger, J.D.. Catcher in the Rye. New York, NY: Little Brown Company, 1945.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 1818.
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