What Is The Theme Of Childhood Innocence In Catcher In The Rye

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In J.D. Salinger's book, “Catcher and The Rye” the main character, Holden is a young man who has already had much to deal with in his life. After dropping out of his boarding school, he travels back home and begins to spiral into a breakdown. Holden’s infatuation with protecting childhood innocence stems from the loss of his brother, Allie. Not being able to fulfill his wants to keep everyone around him “innocent” contributes to his eventual breakdown. Holden becomes obsessed with protecting the innocence of those around him and he spirals into a mental break down we realizing that he cannot keep everyone innocent forever.

Holden’s worries about Stradlater “making a move” on Jane contributes to his breakdown as his mind is filled with the
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He becomes frantic when he begins to think about how the young kids will see the words, what they will think, and how they will react and how seeing the words might turn them into “bad kids” therefore ridding them of their childhood innocence. His true feelings are expressed while he is visiting the school, where he sees the curse words, which causes him to panic and say, “Somebody’d written “fuck you” on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them...I kept wanting to kill whoever's written it”(201). The curse words written on the wall send Holden into a full blown panic. He immediately begins to worry about the affects it will have on the children which in reality it is not a big deal, but to Holden it is the end of the world. Holden saying he would “kill someone” if he found out the had written the word really shows how irrational he can be while trying to protect those around him. It is known that Holden wants to protect those around him from losing their childhood innocence; however, it becomes noticeable that he is also trying to protect himself when he says, “I hardly even had the guts to rub it off the wall with my hand if you want to know the truth”(201). This is a very crucial example that Holden is not only trying to save his loved ones, he is also trying to save himself. He will not rub it off with his hand because in his mind there is a chance touching a word like that will strip him of his innocence. Causing him to lose the one thing he has been trying to save: his innocence. This would be his ultimate fear, thus leading to a rapid increase in a full blown

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