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Holden's Loss Of Innocence In Catcher In The Rye

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A. Allie’s death causes Holden to become obsessed with death and this obsession makes him believe that growing up and becoming a “phonie” is like dying; this belief that is planted inside Holden’s head when Allie died is what sends him on a quest to preserve children’s innocence and save them from the “death” of growing up.
B. Salinger includes the traumatic story of Allies death that happened years in advance to provide an explanation for Holden’s obsession with death and how he sees loss of innocence as equivalent to dying. Allie died with his innocence still intact, so Holden does not want other children to grow up and have their innocence “die”.
C. Holden even admits to being mentally unstable after his brother’s traumatic death when he says, “I was only 13, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all
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Holden’s unusual fantasy metaphorically displays this desire to save children’s innocence on his quest, and literally displays his obsession with death and preventing it, as being the catcher in the rye would accomplish both goals.
F. Literary Critics also note that Holden’s catcher in the rye job is a dream of his that he pretends to be a reality to hide the fact that he secretly knows that he is unable to save the innocence of all children.
G. Authors James E. Miller jr, and Arthur Heiserman explicitly state that, “Holden delights in circles – a comforting bounded figure which yet connotes hopelessness” (Miller, Heiserman 496).
H. The “comforting bounded figure” is Holden’s catcher fantasy that he literally uses to comfort himself against the reality he refuses to believe because it “connotes hopelessness” and he is still too innocent and naïve to accept that.
I. Holden possesses this dream as a weak attempt to save the innocence of children and to avoid a hopeless reality of defeat he has yet to accept. Overall, he wants to believe he can protect everyone else’s innocence because he wasn’t able to protect his own
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