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The Loss of Innocence in J. D. Salinger’s the Catcher in the Rye

In: English and Literature

Submitted By katmat98
Words 1744
Pages 7
One cannot hold onto innocence forever, the longer he or she holds onto it, the more they can lose sight of themselves. In The Cather in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield struggles with accepting his loss of innocence which leads towards his downfall. Holden is a struggling 16 year-old boy, trying to find his place in this world, clinging onto his innocence in urgent desperation. Over the span of three days, the novel follows Holden where he eventually accepts his loss of innocence, but not without going through many struggles along the way first. Through Salinger’s use of symbols, the reader is able to clearly identify Holden’s reluctance toward becoming an adult and surrendering his innocence. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, the author uses the Museum of Natural History, the erasing of profanity and the carousel to reveal that a person cannot avoid his or her loss of innocence.

Holden visits his childhood spot, Museum of Natural History, symbolizing a world in which nothing has to change. While reflecting on his memories from the museum he realizes that the reason he loved it so much was because he could count on everything staying the same, “the best thing though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move…the only thing that would be different is you” (Salinger 121). Just like the thought of preserving innocence, Holden revels in the thought of everything staying exactly the same, forever. However, Holden knows he has become different, as he acknowledges in this quote. He realizes that he possesses less innocence than he did the last time he visited the museum. The concept of stability that this quote provides makes it evident that Holden is afraid of evolving into an adult with different views than he once held. Deep down, he admits that even though certain things can remain the same, he will not. He is…...

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