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The Death Of Innocence In The Catcher In The Rye

1252 words - 5 pages

   Holden identifies with, yearns for, and despises traits of the adult and child realms. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, fears becoming an adult who exhibits the characteristics that he holds complaints against. Throughout this Bildungsroman narrative, Holden searches for his identity. He tries to figure out his place either in the adult or child realm.

Holden possesses a combination of fear and hatred for "phonies". Holden uses this term to describe a wide range of people including shallow, superficial, fake, untruthful, or hypocritical individuals. "One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies... They were coming in the goddam window." By saying, "They were coming in the goddam window," Holden implies his fear. "Phonies" scare him because they surround him; there is a hint of Anthropophobia and Claustrophobia. "Anthropophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an abnormal, irrational, and intense fear or dread of human companionship. Anthropophobia comes from the Greek word `anthropo' meaning `human' and the Greek word `phobos' meaning `fear' ". "Claus·tro·pho·bi·a, an abnormal fear of being in narrow or enclosed spaces [Latin claustrum, enclosed place; see cloister + -phobia.]. Holden's case of claustrophobia deals more with "phonies" encircling him and cutting off an escape. Holden's fear stems from the idea that their influences may turn him into a "phony". Holden hates "phonies" because of the insincerity in their actions and speech [(about Ossenburger)"... That killed me."]. He finds their fakeness annoying and criticizes the ladder from a very cynical point of view. Holden lists people whom he considers "phonies": Ossenburger, Lillian Simmons, Mr. Haas, Mr. Thrumer, Ernie, his aunt, and Sally Hayes' mother. Since he knows so many "phonies" he may feel that by joining the adult world, one must submit to a certain degree of "phoniness", and he already has. Holden shows the characteristics of a pathological liar, " `May I ask your name, dear [Mrs. Morrow]?' `Rudolf Schmidt,' I told her... Then I started shooting the old crap around a little bit... `your nose is bleeding, dear,'...`I got hit with a snowball...One of those very icy ones.'. Clearly, the way "phonies" lie rubs off on Holden. Since Holden shows signs of a "phony", and he hates "phonies", he in a sense, hates himself. Holden knows he has lost his own innocence; now he realizes he possesses the ability to protect the innocence of other children. While narrating The Catcher in the Rye, Holden persistently uses the word "phony" to describe many adults. This entails that people lose their innocence when entering the adult realm.

Holden experiences the corruption and cruelty of the adult world. He interacts with individuals who cause him physical and emotional pain. "...all of a sudden this booze hound her mother was married to came...

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