Childhood Immaculateness In The Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger

1295 words - 6 pages

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, a novel about the period of growth from childhood to adulthood, portrays the disappearance of childhood immaculateness. The main character of the novel is Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old boy who suffers from PTSD because of the death of his younger brother, Allie. The story begins with Holden talking to, what is assumed to be, a therapist about crazy things that had happened in his life. The novel is a flashback in Holden’s perspective that takes place in approximately three days. Throughout the book Holden learns valuable lessons about growing up and moving on. J.D. Salinger uses the checkers, the profanity on the wall, and the catcher in the rye dream to depict that innocence cannot be preserved forever.
Salinger portrays the concept that losing innocence is unavoidable through the symbol of the checkers. In the beginning of the novel Holden is in the lavatory with his roommate, Stradlater. Stradlater mentions that he is going on a date with a girl that Holden knows, Jane Gallagher. Holden mentions how he “used to play checkers with her all the time…She wouldn't move any of her kings”(31). Unlike Stradlater's intentions with Jane, Holden’s brief relationship with Jane was very pure and childlike. Checkers symbolizes the innocence of their relationship because it is a board game that is learned how to play as a child. Holden remembers where Jane kept her kings, which shows how much he cared about her. He cared so much that he remembered how she played the game which exhibits their innocent love. After Stradlater comes back from his date with Jane, Holden grows angry at him and punches him. Stradlater’s lack of respect for Jane pushes Holden over the edge and causes the boys to fight. Holden is angered by the fact that Stradlater “doesn’t even care if a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not”(44). While Stradlater only cares about Jane in a physical manner, Holden honestly got to know Jane and what she was like. The kings that Holden mentions show how childish Jane was at the time. The only reason she kept her kings in the back was for the simple fact that she likes how they looked. Playing checkers with Jane show how innocent their relationship really was. Their relationship stayed very neutral most of the time. Though at one point in the novel, Holden mentions how “the only time old Jane and I ever got close to necking, even. It was a Saturday and…we were playing checkers”(78). This is ironic because while playing a child’s game they do a much more mature act. Even though the act of necking is quite mature, Holden states that they “got close” but never fully made out. Holden and Jane’s relationship stayed innocent the whole time which is why Holden still viewed her as innocent. This is also why he avoided calling her throughout the book, because of Holden had found out that Jane had grown up, matured, and turned phony, he would have been heartbroken. The symbol of...

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