Comparative Literary Essay
The Catcher in the Rye & The Lighthouse
As children grow, they experience a gradual loss of innocence. In their first few years of life, children possess innocent bliss. They are filled with happiness and feel as though they are invincible, but as they grow older they lose what can never be regained so they behave and react differently to certain things. By this time, children have learned and understood too much, making it impossible to turn back. In realizing this, there becomes an overwhelming desire to hold onto that already-lost purity. We see the transition from childhood to adulthood in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye as well as in an excerpt from “The Lighthouse” by Arturo Vivante. In both works of literature we are presented with characters that experience the “ignorant bliss” that accompanies childhood innocence, the narrators’ recognition of it being lost, and each narrator’s actions in order to “freeze” those moment of innocence in his own or another’s mind.
Throughout the Catcher in the Rye and the beginning of the excerpt from “The Lighthouse,” each narrator states that there is lacks of understanding yet sheer joy in young children. An instance in which this is evident in The Catcher in the Rye is when Holden is walking in the city to Broadway and notices a little boy walking in the street in his own world. He was singing and humming while cars were passing by, nearly hitting him, but the boy paid no attention to the deadly street. “He was just singing for the hell of it, you could tell. The cars zoomed by, brakes screeched all over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking next to the curb and singing. ‘If a body catch a body coming through the rye.’ It made me feel better.” The little boy being so into his tune demonstrated a blissful ignorance by not realizing the danger he was in.
Similarly in “The Lighthouse” the narrator is unaware of the impending world war involving Italy, his home country. He is simply happy to see airplanes and experience the world as any child would. The narrator even believes that he is travelling to England in