How Does Holden Preserve Innocence

Words: 703
Pages: 3

J.D. Salinger, in his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, describes how Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, journeys to preserve innocence as he experiences alienation during his journey of self-discovery. As seen in the novel, Holden’s past is an important factor that contributes to his cynical behavior and his disturbed mental state. Specifically, James Castle’s suicide, Holden’s childhood relationship with Jane Gallagher, a character that the reader never meets, and Allie’s death shape Holden’s view and attitude towards society as he matures.
The suicide of Holden’s former class mate, James Castle, births Holden’s dream of becoming the catcher in the rye and triggers Holden to exclude himself from society. Holden remembers James Castle as a young boy he liked, who simply fell to his death by jumping out of a window because he was being harassed by bullies. As Holden wishes to be
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Holden implies that Jane is a fragile person that needs protection when he states that she owns a guard dog– a Doberman pinscher. As an image of Jane’s innocence Holden states that when they played checkers as children, “she wouldn’t move any of her kings… she’d just leave them in the back row.” This demonstrates how Jane protects things that are of importance to her; this demonstrates Jane’s innocence. Holden preserves Jane’s innocence by only thinking about their childhood together. Even though he had several opportunities to contact Jane, he did not because his philandering roommate went on a date with Jane. With this in mind, Holden only reminisces about Jane to protect the pure, celibate, and innocent qualities that he hopes she still possesses. By avoiding the matured and possibly corrupted Jane, Holden further resists adulthood and retains his child-like mindset; ergo, becoming more alienated from the world around