Intoxication With Innocence In The Catcher In The Rye, By J.D. Salinger

1289 words - 6 pages

Intoxication with Innocence

Adolescence a period of life when a child develops from a child into an adult. It is the stage of development in which psychological changes occur and efforts towards creating an identity begin. Clearly, it is an emotionally straining and stressful period. In The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger we are introduce to an adolescence boy. From first impressions would let one to believe Holden Caulfield is just any other teenager going through a phase of rebellion. The truth of the matter is that Holden’s angst arises from a deeper problem. He detains himself from accepting adulthood and latches on to a perfection that results from child-like innocence. By ...view middle of the document...

” While in a father figure Holden seeks guidance, in a mother he seeks love. When he is unable to find a mother figure he loses his sense of innocence (468) and seeks sexual encounters as his remediation. Baumbach states that although the “women he meets are by and large less disappointing than men, they too fail Holden and intensify his despair” (468).
Holden’s fixation with innocence begins with his younger brother, Allie. He sees his younger brother as the epitome of perfection. Since his brother passed at the gentle age of 11 he was unable to be “corrupted” by the adult world. Baumbach suggest that Allie’s death represents Holden’s initial realization of evil (467). Holden depicts Allie as “more intelligent and nicer than anyone else” (467) creating a saint-like image of his younger sibling. According to Parvin Ghasemi and Masoud Chafoori, Holden depends heavily on the memories of the past for consolation. This is presented as Holden intoxicatedly wonders the sidewalks of New York City. He is overwhelmed by anxiety each time he reaches a curb and pleads for the protection of his dead brother. Baumbach states Allie becomes a “saint-like ideal” (467) for Holden. He idolizes his brother and portrays him as a model for everyone to follow. When he is unable to find the familiarity of Allie’s innocence among the rest of the world, Holden is “continually confronted with the absence of good” (Baumbach, 476).
M. duMais Svogun comments on the significance of Holden’s other younger sibling, Phoebe. Svogun states that “Phoebe may be seen as everything from a mother figure to an emblem of innocence” (695). This would explain why Holden feels more of a connection with his younger sister than with any other person he attempted to interact with. Though Phoebe is of young age she is able to provide “genuine comfort” (700) for Holden. He is able to show Phoebe his reality, he is able to break down and trust that his younger sister will comfort him (702). According to Baumach, “Holden’s pure communication with Phoebe may be constructed as a reversion to childlike innocence” (471). In a sense, Phoebe appears to be Holden’s counterpart. Baumbach also believes she represents a younger version of Holden which leads her to under stand him better than anyone. Phoebe, a ten-year-old girl saves him and becomes his catcher (Baumach, 471).
Jonathan Baumach believes the outcome of Holden’s pursuit of innocence is punishment. A prime example presented is the altercation Holden had with Maurice due to Sunny. His search for sexual experience is the only alternative left (468). It appears to be that sexual love seems to be the only compensation after Holden’s inability to find any sense of innocence. After Holden places himself in this...

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