Theme Of Childhood In Catcher In The Rye

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“No one loses their innocence. It is either taken or given away willingly” (Tiffany Madison, Black and White). In J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, protagonist Holden Caulfield is confronted with this ultimatum, and decides that he will neither give away his innocence nor give in to adulthood. Despite the inevitability of growing up, Holden resists maturing vehemently. Holden’s desire to remain himself and never grow up is a central facet of his character, but his immature behavior in conjunction with the futility of his resistance ultimately leads to his emotional breakdown.
From the beginning, Holden reveals that he is telling his story from a mental institution. He creates a flashback and chronicles the events that landed him in his
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He explains that “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye...And I 'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff” (191). The rye field is Holden’s representation of childhood, and the cliff represents adulthood. Holden exists out of place and lonely between these two realms. This illustrates how he is being forced to face his greatest fear, adulthood, but remains teetering on the edge because he is terrified to take the plunge. He further describes that “If [the children are] running and they don 't know where they 're going I have to come out...and catch them” (191). By illustrating the image of himself being the catcher in the rye, Holden reveals his personal obligation to conserve the innocence of children, including his own. Ironically, as Holden wavers on the edge of the perilous cliff that is adulthood, his innocence is whittling away. His pointless efforts to combat maturity and guard innocence spark the emotional turmoil within him that slowly chips away at his mental …show more content…
But has adulthood in today’s world become so corrupt that the thought of growing up is unbearable? Despite Holden’s narration of his life being skewed, hyperbolized, and sometimes unreliable, he makes several valid points about the degeneracy of adults in the present world. Holden exposes the lies, hypocrisy, and superficiality that characterize much of the adult population, and praises the honesty and morality associated with being a child. If the mature way of life is so corrupt and revolting to young children that it endangers their mental health, perhaps we need to make a change in the way we live. Holden’s story serves to show that keeping in touch with your inner child can be more healthy and beneficial than trying so hard to be like other adults and grow

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