April 23, 2009
How Holden’s Loss of Innocence is Revealed Throughout The Catcher in the Rye
Every child experiences maturation, and struggles through their adolescence as they attempt to hold on to their innocence. The novel The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D. Salinger, illustrates this theme through the character of Holden Caulfield. Holden is an isolated, self-critical, sixteen year old boy, whose attitude is governed by a hatred of hypocrisy which he believes, surrounds him. Holden is terrified of growing up because he sees all of the ugliness of the adult world that he will be forced to enter. However, he already lost his innocence when his brother Allie died of leukemia four years earlier. Holden’s quest is to preserve the innocence that is in risk of vanishing; the flawless innocence of childhood that eventually becomes contaminated in the unavoidable experiences of life. This attempt to hold on to his innocence is revealed through Jane Gallagher, the pond in Central Park, and the carrousel. Jane Gallagher represents the goodness of childhood and is an important part of the carefree life Holden remembers. Jane and Holden were next door neighbours when they lived in Maine, but he lost contact with her when he entered Prency Prep. Jane is an important character to Holden because she reminds him of purity and honesty; the characteristics he believes that the adult world lacks. Holden’s most vivid memory of Jane’s innocence is one concerning a game of checkers. “What she’d do, when she’d get a king, she wouldn’t move it. She’d just leave it in the back row. Then she’d never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row,” (Salinger 32). Jane would keep her kings in the back row, not for strategy, but because she liked the appearance. It was more important to her than actually winning the game. This childish innocence is what pleases Holden and is an...
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