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The Innocence Of Childhood In The Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger

1562 words - 6 pages

Growing up and becoming mature can be an intimidating experience; it is difficult to let go of one’s childhood and embrace the adult world. For some people, this transition from youthfulness to maturity can be much more difficult than for others. These people often try to hold on to their childhood as long as they can. Unfortunately, life is not so simple. One cannot spend their entire life running from the responsibilities and hardships of adulthood because they will eventually have to accept the fact that they have a role in society that they must fulfill as a responsible, mature individual. The novel “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger follows the endeavours of Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old teenage boy who faces a point in his life where he must make the transition from childhood to adulthood. In an attempt to retain his own childhood, he begins hoping to stop other young children from growing up and losing their innocence as well. As indicated by the title, “The Catcher in the Rye” is a book that explores a theme involving the preservation of innocence, especially of children. It is a story about a boy who is far too hesitant to grow up, and feels the need to ensure that no one else around him has to grow up either. His own fear of maturity and growing up is what leads to Holden’s desire to become a “catcher in the rye” so he can save innocent children from becoming part of the “phoniness” of the adult world.
To begin with, Holden’s love for the innocence and purity of childhood makes him very hesitant to transition into an adult life. Generally, he finds children to be straightforward, easygoing, and simply pure in every way. This is because they always say what they mean, and never try to set a false façade for themselves just to fit in with society. He uses his younger sister Phoebe as an example of this innocence and purity when he says, “I mean if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you’re talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you take her to a lousy movie, for instance, she knows it’s a lousy movie. If you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it’s a pretty good movie.” (Salinger 67). Holden’s description of his sister depicts her as a very innocent, up-front child who is always willing to speak her mind and not say certain things just to conform to the expectations of society. He feels this way about most children in general, not just his sister Phoebe. He loves the politeness, truthfulness, playfulness, and innocence that a person carries in their childhood, and is not willing to lose all of that himself as he becomes an adult. These are the characteristics that, in his opinion, all people should retain throughout their lifetime. However, since he only notices these characteristics in children, he decides that children are much better than adults, and so he tries to prolong his own childhood. Furthermore, Holden goes as far as to start thinking about...

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