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The Catcher And The Rye / Huckleberry Finn

1238 words - 5 pages

The American Webster’s dictionary defines innocence as, “Freedom from harmfulness; inoffensiveness.” Although this definition is the one which is most commonly used, many authors tend to twist or stretch the meaning in order to fit the material to which it applies. For example, the way J.D Salinger applies innocence to his work is quite different from the way Mark Twain uses innocence. Innocence also changes accordingly with the time period. The definition of innocence is dynamic with respect to author and time period, as illustrated in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.
Throughout history the concept of innocence in literature has been a topic in which author’s have held an obsession with. According to Harold Bloom, the loss of innocence has played a large role in western literature since the Enlightenment when man was said to be initially good and then corrupted only by his institutions. (Bloom 6) The institution in which Bloom speaks of is nothing more then society. Society is what is believed to be the cause for the loss of innocence in children. Bloom has stated that a return to the childhood mindset would eliminate the social problems in which people suffer. This is unerringly why the cause of many physiological problems can be traced back to a problem or unsettlement in one’s childhood. (Bloom 7) The history of innocence continues further back in history as it is said that the first encounter of loss of innocence or “original sin” was from Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. (Bloom 7) These historical events and ideas are what influence the works of authors from the 19th century to modern day.
As a writer, the success of most authors’ comes from their power to convert common thoughts or knowledge into something which can enlighten the reader. An author thrives on being unique and imaginative. With this originality comes differentiation, when one compares two authors who have used the same literary device in their writings, this becomes apparent. J.D Salinger’s writings involve an enormous amount of childhood concepts and loss of innocence. Mark Twain is also known for his use of innocence in his novels, specifically The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although the concept behind innocence is basically the same with both authors, each author applies his own interpretation of the definition of innocence. Salinger focuses towards Adultism in his writing. He states that adults are unable to love. (Bloom 7) Salinger’s definition is apparent when looking at the novel The Catcher in the Rye with an analytical eye, because everyone who is capable of loving is either a child or an adult who is influenced by a child. In turn, the adults who are incapable of loving are defined by Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye, as phonies or prostitutes. (Bloom 7) Holden mentions in the novel the following, “Its Funny. You take adults, they look lousy...

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