The demonstrating his child-like nature and reluctance to
The value of innocence is drastically highlighted in Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caufield is an emotionally troubled teenager who finds himself entangled between the corruptness of growing up and the allure of staying innocent. Holden goes through life as if nothing matters to him. Salinger presents him as an extreme pessimist in a constant state of depression. Many of his actions in the novel are equivalent to those of a careless child. For example, when Holden leaves Pencey, he describes himself as being “loaded” , however, he spends carelessly buying unnecessary things such as cigars and alcohol. These actions can be described as incessant carelessness that are more often established in children and young adult. Holden also likes to “horse” around. “All of a sudden for no good reason, except that I was sort of in the mood for horsing around, I felt like jumping off the washbowl and getting old Stradlater in a half nelson.” This is one of numerous instances where Holden commits an immature act. In chapter four of the novel, holden comments “Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row.” demonstrating his child-like nature and reluctance to mature. Also, Holden tends to use the word “Phony” throughout the story which describes hypocrisy and shallowness that he decerns in many adults. This is important as Holden expresses his aversion toward the adult world and feels surrounded by phoniness, dishonesty, and false pretenses. Holden firmly believes that children in this world are ruined by corruption of mature citizens. This is seen when Holden attempts to erase the profanity written on the walls of Phoebe’s elementary school. “While I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody’d written ‘Fuck you’ on the wall. . .I kept wanting to kill whoever’d written it.” Holden holds deep concern with the delinquent who tried to corrupt the children of an elementary school. As stated, Holden firmly believes that children were innocent because they view society and world without any bias. In the novel, his affection toward his younger sister, Phoebe, is very unique. Holden describes her in a elongated paragraph “a little kid so pretty and smart. . .but she still kills everybody–everybody with any sense, anyway.” His relationship to Phoebe is unparalleled compared to other characters in the novel. In Holden’s eyes, she is the most innocent and pure hearted and he loves her dearly. There is a change in Holden’s character when he visits the Museum of Natural History with his sister Phoebe. The museum is one of Holden’s favorite places to visit because if everything changes history will not have changed. “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo wouldstill be just finished catching those two fish. . .and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket.” The museum is significant as Holden begins realize that the only thing that changes every time he returns is himself. He also had the sudden urge not to go into the museum when visiting it. “When I got to the museum, all of a sudden I wouldn’t have gone inside for a million bucks. It just didn’t appeal to me–and here I’d walked through the whole goddam park and looked forward to it and all.” This is a display of Holden maturing and realizing he has grown too old for museums. Holden’s true test of acceptance of the adult world is when he takes Phoebe to a carousel. He felt “too old” to for the carousel,something he enjoyed, and decided not to ride it. While watching old Phoebe ride the carousel, Holden realizes that “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.” The carousel is the symbol of life, representing the journey from adolescence to adulthood. When the children reached for the gold ring, it implies life’s aspiration, goals, and dreams. And when the children fell attempting to reach for for the prizes, it represents downfall and lessons from mistakes as one is growing up. Holden recognizes that the time has come for him to move on to adulthood.