Innocence Versus The Reality Of Society Essay

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“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 growing up is often overlooked by adults, yet is a “point of no return” decision to children.

Under the forceful encouragement of his peers, parents, and professors, Holden makes several half-hearted attempts at conformity. The first that he describes is his date with Sally. After the disastrous date, he remembers that he “didn’t even like her” because Sally was a “phony,” and is confused as to why he asked her out (Salinger 124). “Holden calls [Sally] out of sheer desperation for human company,” which means that he did not want any sort of romantic outing but a friend to share in his lonely struggle (Tolchin 3). Unfortunately for Holden, he seeks company from the wrong acquaintance; as a confirmed phony, Sally is a part of the…

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