Failure Of A Childhood Essay

747 words - 3 pages

Childhood is typically depicted as a blissful and impeccable facet in one’s life where one is growing and developing. One would be considered to be fortuitous, extremely lucky, compared to those who are constantly suffering from day to day. For such individuals, one’s childhood may be considered a fiasco, a failure, a horrendous period in one’s existence. In a work of literature such as The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, childhood is considered to be a negative experience, one that Holden Caulfield, the main character in the novel, wishes to change. Through the scene in chapter twenty two where Holden is talking with his younger sister, Phoebe, it becomes evident that Holden fantasizes an ideal childhood. Through this fantasy, he wishes to be the protector of innocence because he can no longer experience that dream.
Holden has an oversimplified view of the world around him, believing that adulthood is grim and “phony,” as Holden often says, and that adolescence is beautiful and innocent. Holden wishes to return to a time where he was a youth, where had no worries and never had to plan for his future. Phoebe, the opposite of Holden, is advanced and more adult-like, not simple as childhood should be according to Holden. She realizes the necessity of growing up, urging Holden to think about his future. She asks him what he wishes to do with the rest of his life, whether that is a scientist or a lawyer like their father. Holden responds by stating “I’djust be the catcher in the rye” (Salinger 173). Holden explains that there are many children who are playing, as children do, around the edge of a cliff. Holden wishes to be the person to make sure that they are safe and able to continue playing. What Holden desires to convey is that he dreams that he would be able to protect the innocence of the young children, shielding them from the world they were born into: a world of corruption and complexities. This is where the title of the novel is derived. Holden is thus the “catcher in the rye” for the children, protecting their incorruptibility.
Holden, while steadily reaching adulthood, wishes...

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