Conflict In Catcher In The Rye

Superior Essays
“I’m interested in how innocence fares when it collides with hard reality,” (Geoffrey Fletcher). This concept of innocence versus the reality of society is a timelessly relevant conflict present both in literature and in life. It is one of many themes in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The character that explores this theme is the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who fights to protect those he believes to be innocent. As an adolescent himself, he periodically tries conformity, but hates the phoniness he feels pressured to affect. Holden’s struggle between protecting childhood innocence and accepting the adult society that shatters it is a principal source of conflict throughout The Catcher in the Rye; this particular dilemma when …show more content…
He surprises her with a visit and revels in having a conversation with someone who genuinely listens. When she directly asks him what he actually wants to do, he ponders this question then decides that he wants to be the catcher in the rye, a protector of children. His imaginary role as the catcher who has to “catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff” (Salinger 173) points out his “desire for sanctuary,” for the protection of children “unmarred by graffiti, phoniness, certainty, and death” (Tolchin 3). When Holden sees inappropriate graffiti on the wall of Phoebe’s elementary school, he “thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it” and takes it upon himself to erase it even though the act of doing so disgusts him, which is expressed by the fact that he “hardly even had the guts” (Salinger 201). This proves that he is willing to go against his nature to follow his symbolic role as a guardian of innocence and protect children from losing their shelter before they dare to step out and try to weather the shocking storm of adult …show more content…
This is what Holden feels he should delay, the fall off the cliff down into the dark society that looms ahead and all around. First, he must keep himself from falling. Throughout the novel he is tiptoeing on the edge. His most perspective-altering save is when he awkwardly turns down a prostitute. Before rejecting the prostitute, Holden tries to find social comfort in her presence by asking if she “might care to chat for a while,” which she obviously does not care to do (Salinger 95). He finally realizes that he pushes away girls he does not actually want to get to know, who he had only approached under the foreign influence of his adolescent hormones. Holden rejects this part of himself like he rejects society, and tries again to search for a sanctuary. He is searching for a moment of peace and isolation in a time when his misguided interactions with people too unlike himself only serve to increase his loneliness. When he finally believes that he has found a perfectly peaceful place in the museum, the moment is spoiled by the discovery of more inappropriate vandalism. His tendency to see an occurrence as an always leads him to there is no “place that’s nice and peaceful” (Salinger 204). Holden is not only searching for a perfect place, he is searching to “find the good and the perfection in man” (Han 2). He is leaning out too far over the cliff trying to see a light that

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