Intoxication with Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Intoxication with Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

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Intoxication with Innocence

Adolescence a period of life when a child develops from a child into an adult. It is the stage of development in which psychological changes occur and efforts towards creating an identity begin. Clearly, it is an emotionally straining and stressful period. In The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger we are introduce to an adolescence boy. From first impressions would let one to believe Holden Caulfield is just any other teenager going through a phase of rebellion. The truth of the matter is that Holden’s angst arises from a deeper problem. He detains himself from accepting adulthood and latches on to a perfection that results from child-like innocence. By gripping on to the idea of maintaining permanent innocence Holden becomes a more than a rebellious teenager, he becomes lost and further problems emerge.
According to Jonathan Baumbach Holden hungers for a wise and benevolent authority (467). He seeks direction from the adults that surround him but only finds disillusion. The relationship between Holden and his parents is not very defined throughout the book. Holden only speaks of his father with criticism and judgement toward his profession as a lawyer. Since he is not accepting of this father’s conformity with society, Holden is left without a father figure he can truly call ideal. Baumbach states that Holden seeks out Mr. Antolini as a substitute father. He sees Mr. Antolin as his last resort after all the other adults in his life, including his father, failed him. He hopes a substitute father will be able to pick him up before he is fallen (463).
Holden also seeks a maternal figure to serve as a possible savior. According to Baumbach, “His attraction to older women suggests that...


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... him to insanity.
When one does not stand for something, one is bound to fall for anything. Because Holden lacked paternal figures in his life or a greater influence he took the idea of innocence as his mantra. His need to find an identity led him to find a role model in children, which led him to believe permanent innocence would mean happiness and sanity. He held on to his idea and sought out to find innocence in the dimmest of places. His intoxication with this idea and his disappointing encounters with adults ensure him that nothing but corruption is found once a child grows up. He rejected the idea of adulthood and created further problems for himself. In the process of this well-intentioned plan, Holden loses the little of himself he had. He is left standing only with a hunger for innocence. Because, to him, innocence is all and love is innocence.




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