Innocence in Catcher in the Rye
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If there were one word to tell what the theme of the book was it would be innocence. How we are all innocent at some point, how to try to keep our innocence, and how no one can keep their innocence forever. We all fall from our innocence. Adam and Eve fell from grace and innocence and set the tone for all of our lives. Throughout the whole book Holden is trying to make people keep their innocence and he wants to hold onto it himself. What he needs to learn and does learn through the course of the book is that no one can keep his or her innocence. We all fall at some point, but what we have control over is how hard we fall.
In the book there is a plethora of falling images. The very title is about Holden wanting to вЂњcatchвЂќ little kids from falling off a cliff. вЂњWhat I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliffвЂ”I mean if theyвЂ™re running and they donвЂ™t look where theyвЂ™re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.вЂќ (Pg. 173) Holden wants to save everyone and be a hero, when he needs to focus a lot more attention on his self. 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 to stay sane and prosper a person usually has to conform and be вЂњphony.вЂќ
Mr. Antolini brings to our attentions another image of falling when he talks with Holden about his behavior. He tells Holden that Holden is due to fall. вЂњThis fall I think youвЂ™re riding forвЂ”itвЂ™s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man isnвЂ™t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom.вЂќ (Pg. 187) Mr. Antolini brings to our attention the fact that Holden is going to вЂњfallвЂќ or loose his innocence soon if he already hasnвЂ™t. During the book when Holden is going mad it sure seems like he keeps falling and falling but he canвЂ™t feel himself fall or hit bottom. He drinks constantly to escape the problems he has with his life. He tries to find people and things to make him happy, but he canвЂ™t anymore. Allie made him happy, but now Allie is dead. Holden actually reaches out to Allie when Holden thinks he is falling off of the curb. вЂњEvery time I came to the end of a block, and stepped off the goddam curb, I had the feeling that IвЂ™d never get to the other side of the streetвЂ¦вЂ?Allie, donвЂ™t let me disappear. Allie, donвЂ™t let me disappear.вЂ™вЂќ (Pg. 198) This was Holdens breaking point. After this it seems that he finally realized that everyone looses his or her innocence and we all fall. No one is perfect and you canвЂ™t control or protect kids forever. Phoebe made him happy and he tried to protect her through the whole book; whether it was erasing the вЂњfuck youвЂќ marks on the walls of the school or making her 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 canвЂ™t protect them all. вЂњI was kinda afraid sheвЂ™d fall off the goddam horseвЂ¦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.вЂќ (Pg. 211) Most of the time kids donвЂ™t even fall, but the pressure of always trying to вЂњcatchвЂќ them all of the time can make a person go mad.
Holden barley holds onto his sanity while trying to keep his innocence not be phony. The truth is he is phony. Holden admits to us his sexual innocence suddenly when Sunny is coming over. вЂњIf you want to know the truth, IвЂ™m a virgin.вЂќ (Pg. 92) Through the whole book Holden pretended he wasnвЂ™t a virgin, but he was and finally blurts it out. Also he lies all of the time and he admits that