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Childhood Innocence is Everything in Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Decent Essays
Everyone’s mother always told them that childhood innocence is the best thing in the world, but for Holden it is the world. When reading The Catcher in the Rye some people disdain Holden, because they think he’s cynical and immature, but really he is a representation of us all. Unlike other books, the protagonist isn’t someone you want to be friends with, it’s someone you realize you are. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is Holden’s chronicle of running away from his boarding school and living on his own in New York City. While there, he meets interesting people that he calls phony but in reality reflect characteristics of himself and the appalling qualities of the culture he lives in. At first he’s pessimistic towards everyone and…show more content…
The Catcher in the Rye is about two Holdens, one who the story is happening to, and one who is looking back and telling the story. Throughout the book the first Holden evolves into the second and at the end he can feel vulnerable enough with the reader that he’s willing to open up about his true emotions. In the beginning it is too painful for him to directly refer to his past so he uses “you” instead of “I” to distance himself from it. For example when he describes his checker playing with Jane, “You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were” (79). Similarly he uses the passive voice to distance himself when we says, “The reason I was standing way up on Thomsen Hill” (3). At the end of the book, in the carousel scene he isn’t distancing himself anymore from the past, he’s recalling the event and putting himself back there. He uses “I” this time when describing how happy he is, “I felt so damn happy all of sudden…I felt so damn happy” because it isn’t too painful (213). Holden’s change is evident in how he thinks about the past, his personality changes from sorrow and regret to jaunty and jocular, in a way making his past seem better.
Holden’s change is spurred by his need to fit in and his realization that he needs to grow up. The book is about a teenager’s hardships to find out who he is and what he really wants. It’s not until the carousel scene that he realizes that he no
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