Free Essays - No Innocence in Catcher in the Rye


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No Innocence in Catcher in the Rye

 

      Probably the greatest irony of the novel is the fact that, despite

his love of "childhood innocence," Holden is and acts far from innocent

himself. In fact, he is its antithesis. He acts that way for many reasons.

First of all, he has so many responsibilities. Second, he never fits in

with the crowd, and finally, he never gets any real help for the problems

that he deals with.

 

      Holden does have a love for "childhood innocence" as seen across

the book. For example, on page two hundred and one "Somebody'd written '

Fuck you' on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe

and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the

hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them-cockeyed

naturally- what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even

worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd

written it... But I rubbed it [The 'fuck you' written on the wall] out

anyway." Another example is on page two hundred and eight, "'So shut up.'

It was the first time she [Phoebe] ever told me to shut up. It sounded

terrible. God, it sounded terrible. It sounded worse than  swearing." There

is one more outstanding quotation from the novel which is found on page two

hundred and thirteen. "I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old

Phoebe was going around and around [the carousel]." All these examples

clearly show that Holden appreciated "childhood innocence" to a great

extent. Yet Holden acts the opposite.

 

      The irony in this novel is Holden's behavior, which is far from

being innocent. He smokes, drinks, always depressed, thinks about suicide,

thinks about going embarking to a far place, and has people tell and act in

many weird ways. There are three main reasons why he acts this way. Firstly,

Holden being only sixteen years of age already has so much responsibility.

He has to get money for food and travel. When he travels he has to make

sure he doesn't get lost, and actually gets there. He has to make sure that

he doesn't flunk school.

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For a sixteen year old boy this is a challenge all

by itself, but there are still more reasons that his life is so difficult.

Secondly, he never had anyone actually sit down with him, and figure out

the core of his problems. For example, when Allie died his parents didn't

send him to a psychologist so that the he can help Holden deal with the

immense pain, instead his parents sent him to boarding school. When Holden

was kicked out of a schools it didn't seem like the parents tried

understand why he was kicked out, and how they could help, instead they

sent him to another school. When Holden drank and smoked nobody bothered

telling him it was harmful. It seems as if his parents and the people

around him didn't really mind if he failed. Holden can't fix all the

problems by himself. He needs help, but if there is none then there is no

way he can act innocent. Lastly, he never fits in with the crowd. Most

likely because his personality is so different from everybody else's. He

can't stay himself when he talks to different people. For example when he

talked to the nuns in the café, he actually talked seriously without lying.

When Holden talks to Phoebe he lets out his thoughts and feelings. While

with Mrs. Morrow, as Holden says,  "Then I started shooting the old crap

around..." Because he can't communicate with people he feels depressed which

makes him do such foolish things as smoke, drink, ordering a prostitute,

and just leaving everything that he has behind to travel to someplace far.

 

       Holden faces three major problems in experiencing  "childhood

innocence." He has too much responsibility. He doesn't have anyone to help

him with his problems, and  he doesn't fit in with the crowd. A sixteen

year old, whose younger brother died, and parents ignore, and is facing all

those problems can't possibly under any circumstances be innocent.

 

 

 

 


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