This pilgrimage is a difficult journey to attempt, and many are afraid of the process or the outcome. As children evolve into adults, there is a loss of innocence. No longer is one able to act in the same manner or perform the same actions; instead, as a body falls further into the more "mature" world, the individual is expected to perform at a higher level and to conform. To lose this innocence is a difficult procedure and often hurts as it leads to loneliness; so many try not to fall over the cliff into adulthood, or bite from the tree of knowledge as the serpent tells them to. After this experience, many people, like Salinger's Holden Caulfield, try to protect others from the experience by dreaming of becoming the "catcher in the rye." Once thrown over the cliff, a whole new world is placed upon a person's shoulders, where one realizes, "I knew a lot of things, but I didn't know the half of it, and maybe I never will either. Maybe nobody ever will. If anybody should, though, I should. I want to know, and I'll always want to know, and I guess I'll always keep trying, but how can you ever know?" (Saroyan 98)
Death, or sudden responsibility, such as being the messenger of ill news, is one way of being forced over the cliff. Gene, in Knowles's A Separate Peace, is forced to recognize himself after Finny's fall from the tree, and later, his death. This shaped his being for eternity because he was "present in every moment of the day..." (Knowles 194) and Gene tried to force himself to become Finny. When Gene comes back to visit the school, he cannot help but let the painful memories of discovering who he is wash over him, like an after shock of an earthquake. Similarly, once Dickens's Estella is finally forced into the real world, with all of its cruel realities, she, like the star she is named for, falls. She loses her essence of character that had previously held such a strong spell over Pip, and degrades herself in his eyes by marrying such a person as Drummle. Lastly, in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice falls down a hole into a "wonder" land where everything is "curiouser and curiouser," (Carroll 8) and where she is able to play around with different sizes in order to determine the one that she would most like to be. At one point, she is also not able to remember her own name: "...who am I? I will remember, if I can! I'm determined to do it!" (Carroll 137) These characters is forced to recognize themselves as they are thrown into a new situation, where they are no longer young innocents, but people responsible for their every action.
When trying to define ourselves and our role in society, adolescents are encouraged to conform to an expected norm. We are told that it takes a village to raise a child, yet in