Essay on The Death of Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye

1156 Words 5 Pages
Holden identifies with, yearns for, and despises traits of the adult and child realms. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, fears becoming an adult who exhibits the characteristics that he holds complaints against. Throughout this Bildungsroman narrative, Holden searches for his identity. He tries to figure out his place either in the adult or child realm.

Holden possesses a combination of fear and hatred for "phonies". Holden uses this term to describe a wide range of people including shallow, superficial, fake, untruthful, or hypocritical individuals. "One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies... They were coming in the
…show more content…
Since he knows so many "phonies" he may feel that by joining the adult world, one must submit to a certain degree of "phoniness", and he already has. Holden shows the characteristics of a pathological liar, " `May I ask your name, dear [Mrs. Morrow]?' `Rudolf Schmidt,' I told her... Then I started shooting the old crap around a little bit... `your nose is bleeding, dear,'...`I got hit with a snowball...One of those very icy ones.'. Clearly, the way "phonies" lie rubs off on Holden. Since Holden shows signs of a "phony", and he hates "phonies", he in a sense, hates himself. Holden knows he has lost his own innocence; now he realizes he possesses the ability to protect the innocence of other children. While narrating The Catcher in the Rye, Holden persistently uses the word "phony" to describe many adults. This entails that people lose their innocence when entering the adult realm.

Holden experiences the corruption and cruelty of the adult world. He interacts with individuals who cause him physical and emotional pain. "...all of a sudden this booze hound her mother was married to came out on the porch and asked Jane if there were any cigarettes in the house... old Jane wouldn't answer him...Then all of a sudden, this tear plopped down on the checkerboard... I asked her... if Mr. Cudahy¾ that was the booze hounds name¾ had ever tried to get wise with her... she said no though." The possibility that Jane is sexually abused greatly
Open Document