The Catcher and the Rye / Huckleberry Finn Essay

1251 Words 6 Pages
The American Webster’s dictionary defines innocence as, “Freedom from harmfulness; inoffensiveness.” Although this definition is the one which is most commonly used, many authors tend to twist or stretch the meaning in order to fit the material to which it applies. For example, the way J.D Salinger applies innocence to his work is quite different from the way Mark Twain uses innocence. Innocence also changes accordingly with the time period. The definition of innocence is dynamic with respect to author and time period, as illustrated in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.
Throughout history the concept of innocence in literature has been a topic in which author’s have held an
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(Bloom 7) Salinger’s definition is apparent when looking at the novel The Catcher in the Rye with an analytical eye, because everyone who is capable of loving is either a child or an adult who is influenced by a child. In turn, the adults who are incapable of loving are defined by Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye, as phonies or prostitutes. (Bloom 7) Holden mentions in the novel the following, “Its Funny. You take adults, they look lousy when their asleep and they have their mouths way open, but kids don’t. Kids look all right.” (Salinger 159) This quote is a clear example of a stronger appreciation for the youth as opposed to the adults. After a comparison, Mark Twain’s definition of innocence is quite different. Twain defines innocence as the naïve mindset of children. His definition consists of a belief that because children don’t know, or understand something, they can’t question its validity and form opinions against it. Huck Finn’s spelling of “sivilization” is a pure example of this. Huck’s views and opinions towards civilization are shown through his spelling. He is naïve to what civilization really is, therefore he can not form an opinion against it. (Bloom 12) Twain’s use of innocence is merely symbolism. He uses a misspelled word to emphasize the ignorance of children; but, however ignorant they may be, their reason for being so is their innocence.
A comparison of J.D Salinger’s works and those of Mark Twain,
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