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Does the character of Allie significantly change Holden? In The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger introduces Holden Caulfield, an innocent spirit surrounded by the ugly and harsh realities of the world around him.

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Introduction

Does the character of Allie significantly change Holden? In The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger introduces Holden Caulfield, an innocent spirit surrounded by the ugly and harsh realities of the world around him. Holden's need to preserve innocence mainly stems from the loss of his younger brother, Allie. Allie died young at the age of 11 of leukemia when Holden was 13 years old. Holden describes him as terrifically intelligent and the nicest, in lots of ways. Allie's poem-covered mitt is a symbol of how Holden remembers him: smart, sensitive, and insightful. He is Holden's ideal of innocence personified. When Allie dies, Holden smashes all the windows in the garage and his hands in the process. In that moment he encounters true loss for the first time. Salinger hints that it is this loss that fuels Holden's need to protect and preserve innocence; so that he will never have to feel that pain again. ...read more.

Middle

It is experienced during Holden's trip to Mr. Spencer's house. After crossing a road, he felt like "[he] was sort of disappearing." It is this sensation that drives him to begin sprinting to his destination, to save himself. He again experiences this perturbation while walking the streets of New York. "Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street." Holden panics at this possibility and looks to his dead brother for protection. "Allie, dont let me disappear. Allie don't let me disappear. Please, Allie." Though Holden does not realize what fuels his terror, Salinger uses this phobia to show the reader Holdens anxiety when he feels his mortality or innocence threatened. His fear and fascination of disappearance is also seen in his curiosity in the winter habits of the ducks in the lagoon. ...read more.

Conclusion

The death of his brother proved to be one of the most traumatizing events in Holden's life and is the catalyst for his resistance to inevitable disillusionment. Fighting both the phoniness of the world and even his own budding sexuality, Holden attempts to prevent the inevitable. It is only through his relationship with young Phoebe and the epiphany at the carousel that Holden finally comprehends that he cannot save the innocent, they must be allowed to take life's risks and reach for the gold ring. In this same way Holden must approach his own changes. Holden's journey comes to a close as he continues to watch the children on the merry-go-round. In that moment in the rain, he experiences inexplicable joy because he is allowed to partake in a moment so pure that it is completely untouched or contaminated by the ugliness of the world. Salinger ends Holden's story on a hopeful note, showing how Holden's odyssey has altered his view on life. Where previously there was scorn for the phoniness of the world ...read more.

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