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Essay on Preservation of Innocence In The Catcher in the Rye

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Have you ever pondered about when growing up, where does our childlike innocence go and what happens to us to go through this process? It involves abandoning previous memories that are close to our hearts. As we can see in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, we listen to what the main character; Holden Caulfield has to say about it. Holden is an average teenager dealing with academic and life problems. He remains untouched over his expulsion from Pencey Prep; rather, he takes the opportunity to take a “vacation.” As he ventures off companionless in New York City, we are able to observe many things about him. We see that Holden habitually states that he is depressed and undoubtedly, wants to preserve the innocence of others.
Through the majority of the book, Holden repeatedly speaks about having “the time”; yet, however, he states that when he gets close to doing it, he stops because the girl hinders him. Holden has not proceeded with his desire to have “the time,” even when he hires a prostitute. When Holden first sees the prostitute, Sunny, he loses the urgency and desire to finally have sex. “I took her dress over to the closet and hung it up for her. It was funny. It made me feel sort of sad when I hung it up. I thought of her going in a store and buying it, and nobody in the store knowing she was a prostitute just thought she was a regular girl when she bought it. It made me feel sad as hell—I don’t know why exactly” (95-96). Holden imagines others thinking that Sunny is your average woman shopping, not knowing what kind of woman she truly is. From the contents of Holden’s mind, this section is an example of Holden him searching for a tiny trace of innocence left within Sunny. “ ‘Me? Twenty-two.’ ‘Like fun you are.’ I...


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...oes want them to turn into “phonies.” Holden seeks for a peaceful and uncorrupt world but he cannot obtain that due to the actions of others. Despite Holden’s attitude and outlook on life, he is quite passionate. Although he is a firm pessimist, calling every person he comes across a “phony,” there is an alternate side to him. In his interaction with Phoebe and the other children in the book, he tries to protect them from the rest of society, since children are still naïve and pure. It is justifiable why Holden craves to preserve the innocence of others. For most of us, growing up, we begin to understand more. We start to look at life in a different perspective, different from the one we did when we were young, but as a person who has seen and experienced more in life.

Work Cited

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951.


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