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Catcher In The Rye Theme Essay

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"Catcher in the Rye" written by J.D. Salinger, is a novel in which the author creates much irony in the way he presents the loss of innocence or the fall from innocence in his main character, Holden Caulfield. While Holden clearly believes in protecting the innocence of children in society, he himself cannot seem to hang onto his own innocence. Throughout the novel Holden shows his love and protection for childhood innocence, the irony that he in fact himself may be losing his own childhood innocence mainly due to the responsibilities which he has taken on, and also shows that he may be more innocent than the reader first thinks as his simplified view of a complex world is much like an innocent child would see.

In this novel there are numerous of falling images. The very title is about Holden wanting to save children from falling off a cliff. "That I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff. I mean if they are running and they dont look where theyre going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them"(Pg. 173). Holdens image of himself is to be a hero, when actually he needs a hero. To him falling is when you loose your innocence, and when you loose your innocence you are a phony. He sees people that conform as phony, but in order to stay sane and prosper a person usually has to conform and be phony. No one is perfect and you can not control or protect kids forever. Phoebe made him happy and he tried to protect her through the whole book; whether it was erasing the"fuck you" marks on the school and not go with him when he was going to leave. His life was miserable the whole time he attempted this. He was trying to protect himself also. The one time in the book he seemed truly happy was at the end when he finally decided that you have to let kids fall. Everyone falls and you cant protect them all. He was afraid she would fall off the horse."the thing with kids is, if they want to grab at the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything"(Pg. 211).

Mr. Antolini brings to our attention another image of falling when he talks with Holden about his behavior. He advises Holden that he is due to fall. "This fall I think youre riding for is a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man is not permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom"(Pg. 187) Mr. Antolini informs Holden that he too, is going to fall and or loose his innocence. During the book when Holden is going mad it seems as if he keeps falling and falling but he cant feel himself fall or hit bottom. He drinks constantly to escape the problems he has with his life. He attempts to find people and things to make him happy, but he cant anymore. Allie made him happy, but Allie is dead. Holden actually reaches out to Allie when Holden thinks he is falling off of the curb."The very time I came to the end of a block, and stepped off the goddam curb, I had the feeling that Ill never get to the other side of the street. Allie, dont let me disappear. Allie, dont let me disappear" (Pg. 198) This was Holden's breaking point. After this incident he finally realized that everyone looses his or her innocence and we all fall.

Holden barley holds onto his sanity while trying to keep his innocence and not be phony. The truth is he is phony. Holden admits to us his sexual innocence when Sunny is coming over. "If you want to know the truth, I'm a virgin"(Pg. 92) Throughout the book Holden pretended he was not a virgin, but he was and finally admits. Holden wants to pretend he is not innocent, he tries to act tough while trying to maintain his innocence. Even when the prostitute came over and was going to sleep with him, he refused her trying to hold on to his sexual innocence. Before he



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