Holden's Loss of Innocence in "Catcher in the Rye"

Essay by KamsdenHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2003

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The novel The Catcher in the Rye takes place in New York during the 1950's. The main character is a fifteen-year-old boy Holden, he takes the reader through a story depicting the loss of innocence. Holden believes everyone is innocent, but they inevitably loose it somehow by the time they are adolescent. Holden believes innocence is lost in childhood. Holden is extremely concerned about this and believes he can stop the loss of innocence by becoming the "Catcher in the Rye."

Everyone is born innocent, but inevitably for one reason or another, people lose it. Childhood is when this change starts to take place. To Holden, there are two types of people, people who are innocent and and phonies, who have lost their innocence. I believe Allie had the characteristics of both sides. He competed in sports, had a wide variety of friends, and was also sensitive enough to write poems on his baseball glove.

Holden's friend, Jane is sensitive like Allie. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond her control, such as her alcoholic father, her innocence is being stolen from her. Holden knows this and hopes Jane can hold on to her innocence even in the hostile environment she lives in. "Did you ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row?"(P.42) This is Holden's way of asking if she has held on to her innocence. Holden's sister Phoebe is falling into phoniness. The culprit in this case is the media. It is robbing her of her childhood and thrusting her into the life of an adult. This is shown when she begins to obsess over movie stars.

While some people enter adolescence holding on to remains of innocence, others have lost all traces of it. The later is the case with Holden's roommate Stradlater. He...