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The Catcher in the Rye Essay

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The Catcher in the Rye Essay
"Certain things should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of
those big glass cases and leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway."
(16) The quote reflects on the changes one experiences in life that seem to lead to the worst yet
are inevitable. The Catcher in the Rye's central theme is that of innocence and its protection, as
manifested in words said by the main protagonist, Holden, and other characters in the novel.
Holden, experiencing a personal struggle with growing up, feels that he has to protect the
innocence of other characters such as his ten years old sister Phoethe struggles of a teenager
growing up in a world he perceives to be too dangerous and artificial. The novel explores the
theme of protection of the innocence through the perspectives and thoughts of the main
protagonist Holden about his younger sister Phoebe, Jane Gallagher, as well as those of his
favorite teacher Mr. Antolini.
Holden, the narrator, faces a personal struggle with protecting his innocence as he
grows up. Although Holden is worried about the innocence of other characters such as his ten-
year-old sister and former close friend Jane Gallagher, his struggle is in protecting his
innocence and loss of it. The author details how Holden views the world differently when he
refers to his peers, such as Stradlater and adults, as 'phonies.' In his reflections, he argues that
the adult world is cruel and filled with artificiality. He mainly picks on his school's motto "Since
1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men," which he believes is
lies as the conditions led one of the students to commit suicide. Holden struggles to adapt to
this 'phony' environment that lacks authenticity, integrity, and promotes the loss of innocence.
The struggle pushes him to isolation and expulsion from school. Bloom argues that the escape
represents Holden's attempt to protect and exclude himself from what he believes to be the

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corruption of the adult world (32). However, he ends up in the streets of New York and has
firsthand experience of the extremes of the adult world, such as drugs, prostitution, and sex.
The belief that innocence should be protected is based on the genuine interactions
Holden has had with his younger sister Phoebe. Phoebe is Holden's most trusted ally in the
family. Through Holden's interaction with Phoebe, Salinger shows how she learns of the things
she chooses to emphasize on and how she sees through her brother and his struggle. It is
through these interactions that Holden shares his intention of being the 'Catcher of the rye' to
her. In this, he wishes to protect Phoebe and other children from the dangers of the adult world.
Holden's reflection of an observation he made of a child protected by his parents inspires him to
wish for the safety of Phoebe and others such as Jane, whom he perceives as innocent.
Privitera argues that Salinger utilizes these interactions to allow a better comprehension of the
intentions of Holden and how it affects his interactions with other characters (203). For instance,
when Holden observes the profanities written on the walls frequently used by his younger sister,
he is angered and distressed as he interprets this as the spillover effects of an adult world
reaching young children. Holden's bad experience with the adult world puts him in the desire to
protect the innocence of childhood from those close to him.
The adult world is a dangerous place for the innocent. Jane shares a close relationship
with Holden, who feels responsible for protecting the innocence, Jane. Holden, the narrator,
captures the reader when he narrates his relationship with Jane. He also shows his concerns
that her stepfather could be abusing Jane gauging from her behavior when he was around.
Pinsker argues that author uses the interaction to show how a complicated background could
affect the interactions of an innocent woman (14). Holden's fight with Stradlater just before
leaving school after Stradlater date with Jane and subsequent praise of Jane's character is a
clear depiction that the author believes in protecting innocence. As a result, the author encodes

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The Catcher in the Rye Essay "Certain things should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway." (16) The quote reflects on the changes one experiences in life that seem to lead to the worst yet are inevitable. The Catcher in the Rye's central theme is that of innocence and its protection, as manifested in words said by the main protagonist, Holden, and other characters in the novel. Holden, experiencing a personal struggle with growing up, feels that he has to protect the innocence of other characters such as his ten years old sister Phoethe struggles of a teenager growing up in a world he perceives to be too dangerous and artificial. The novel explores the theme of protection of the innocence through the perspectives and thoughts of the main protagonist Holden about his younger sister Phoebe, Jane Gallagher, as well as those of his favorite teacher Mr. Antolini. Holden, the narrator, faces a personal struggle with protecting his innocence as he grows up. Although Holden is worried about the innocence of other characters such as his tenyear-old sister and former close friend Jane Gallagher, his struggle is in protecting his innocence and loss of it. The author details how Holden views the world differently when he refers to his peers, such as Stradlater and adults, as 'phonies.' In his reflections, he argues that the adult world is cruel and filled with ar ...
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