The Innocence of Holden in The Catcher in the Rye
In J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, spends several days wandering around New York. During this time, he learns many things about himself. He seems to have some sort of mental problem, but this problem fortunately begins to be less serious by the end of the story. But more interesting that the things he knows about himself are the things he does not know about himself. Holden is constantly holding children on a pedestal and dismissing adults as "phonies." Holden, though he does not know it, subconsciously protects the innocence of childhood within his mind.
In the book, Holden constantly reminisces about Jane Gallagher, a friend of his that he met a few summers ago in Maine. The day that Holden leaves Pencey, Stradlater tells him that he is going on a date with Jane. Upon hearing this, Holden says to Stradlater:
"...I used to play checkers with her all the time."
"You used to play what with her all the time?"
"Checkers, for Chrissake!"
"Yeah. She wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do, when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it. She'd just leave it in the back row. She'd get them all lined up in the back row. Then she'd never use them. She just liked the way the looked when they were all in the back row." (31-32)
Holden later becomes jealous of Stradlater when he suspects that he had sex with Jane. As Holden later wanders around New York, many times he has an impulse to call Jane but does not. He never gives a reason, but subconsciously, he realizes that if he calls Jane, he will have to face a new person, who may have lost the innocence of a girl who plays checkers and keeps all her kings in the back row. Holden is afraid to face the possibility of a "new" Jane, and so he reminisces of the "old" Jane, rather than telephoning her.
Holden also reminisces about his younger brother, Allie, who has passed away. He views his brother, at times, as a god. When he is walking down Fifth Avenue, he is afraid that he will fall off the curb every time he reaches the end of a block and will die, so he prays to Allie:
Then I started doing something else. Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, "Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Please,...