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Loss of Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye

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Jessica I

on 23 July 2015

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Transcript of Loss of Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye

Loss of Innocence in
The Catcher in the Rye

Symbols and Language
Museum of Natural History

Romantic Relationships

The Carousel
People can only hold on to their innocence for so long before it causes them to lose sight of themselves. When Holden is faced with society’s expectation to become an adult, he fights to hold on to his childhood in fear of growing up.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden is sent through several different private schools and is repeatedly kicked out of each. He is strongly effected by the loss of his older brother Allie and struggles with his current relationships. He leaves his current school Pencey Prep and ends up in New York where he reconnects with a girl he had feelings for, Jane as well as a prostitute he calls but never actually has sex with. He ends up back at his home to see his younger sister Phoebe, that he cares deeply for. They visit the Museum of Natural History and a carousel together before Holden reveals that he is going to be moving away, Phoebe tries desperately to go with him but he makes her stay. At the end of the novel it becomes evident that Holden is now in a psychiatric facility and telling his story to a doctor.
Through symbols and language, Salinger clearly shows Holden Caulfield’s loss of innocence in the novel, The Catcher in the Rye.
The Museum of Natural History
Holden visits the museum with his sister Phoebe, this is one of his favorite places to visit because no matter what he knows that it will always be the same and history will not have changed.
Romantic Relationships
Holden's relationship with Jane Gallagher shows immaturity and innocence in the way that he speaks of their relationship and of her.
Holden's Past
Holden desires to hold on to his innocence and not develop any mature bonds to avoid the loss of someone he cares about. However, by holding on to his youth and not letting himself move on he is holding himself back from many opportunities and forcing himself into loneliness.
"The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish." (Salinger 135).
The museum makes Holden realize that the only thing changing every time he goes back is himself. He is beginning to mature and truly losing his innocence.
“The girls I like the best are the ones I never feel like kidding. Sometimes I think they’d like it if you kidded them- in fact I know they would- but it’s hard to get started, once you’ve known them a pretty long time and never kidded them. Anyway, I was telling you about that afternoon Jane and I came close to necking.” (Salinger 87).
His relationship with Sunny, a prostitute, showed more maturity. He was able to recognize that what he was doing was against his principals and was confident enough to remove himself from the situation.
“Look, I don’t feel very much like myself tonight. I’ve had a rough night. Honest to God. I’ll pay you and all, but do you mind very much if we don’t do it?” (Salinger 107).
The Carousel
Shows Holden’s acceptance of his loss of innocence and his realization that he will not be able to save all the children from growing up and experiencing life’s challenges.
“The thing with Kids is, if they want to grab or the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off.], they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.” (Salinger 232).
Reaching for the gold ring shows them reaching for their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Adults have to let kids reach for their goals, even if that means watching them fall, because otherwise they will not be able to grow and achieve anything. Holden realizes that it is time for him to move on to adulthood and that his time for youth and innocence has come and gone.
Discussion Questions
-Is Holden's ideal of protecting children from the challenges of adulthood realistic?
-What is it about children and innocence that appeals to Holden so much more then adulthood?
-Is Holden lonely because he alienates himself or because he alienates others?
Importance to Theme
Full transcript