The Catcher In The Rye

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                                                                                                                        English Literature Coursework

                                                                                                                                  The Catcher In The Rye

“Holden Escapes Corruption Through Childhood And Innocence.” Discuss

Holden Caulfield was in conflict with the society he was living in. He regarded it as corrupted and totally insincere; and therefore he attempted to escape from falling into this corruption of adulthood, by holding onto his childhood innocence. However he was unsuccessful in his strong sense of desire to prevent this inevitable fall into adulthood. Later in the novel after coming to terms with this fact, he developed a new desire to act as ‘ The Catcher In The Rye’ and protect the innocent children who have yet not faced the wicked society of adulthood.

There are a number of ways in which Holden was trying to hold onto his childhood and innocence. For example Holden struggled to maintain his virginity. His virginity was a crucial sign of his boyhood innocence, which was related to his dead brother, Allie and childhood. If he had let go of that then he would also be regarded as corrupted like his contemporaries.

Holden wanted to prevent himself from entering into the adult world which sex strongly revolved around. Sex was something that fascinated him but also repelled him at the same time. He wished to experience what it was all about. However he had established that passion was not dedicated to him, even though he enjoyed women’s company and yearned for a sexual life. Holden was not appealed by the physical reality.

Holden’s confusion was clearly shown in chapter thirteen, in relation to the prostitute. This chapter demonstrated Holden’s child-like behavior and his inability to fulfil his sexual desires. He was confused about his virginity and could not foresee how he would react in front of the prostitute. However he thought the prostitute would at least offer an opportunity to practice his sexual skills.

“…. When I’m horsing around with a girl, I have a hulluva lot of trouble just finding what I’m looking for” (Chapter 13).


The prostitute appeared very experienced. There was great contrast between her determination and Holden’s discomfort. Holden had no vivid knowledge on this issue to tackle her professionalism. Holden offered a fictitious name, which was disregarded. He also matured his age by an additional six years, which was also disbelieved; and his desperate wish to delay the moment of confrontation treated with despise. Holden had now deliberately involved himself with the adult world and must extricate himself. He was searching for love and she was selling sex. Holden refused to proceed once he began to consider the prostitute as an individual. He could no longer consider her as a sex object and he gathered a feeling of sympathy for her, instead. Her attempts to flirt with him, he found vulgar.

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Throughout the book, Holden feared any sexual activities. He was also physically repelled by anything homosexual. This was an area he could not cope with. Thus it was not surprising that Holden ran in shock and fear when Mr Antolini was caressing his head that night.

“When something perverty like that happens, I start sweating like a bastard. That kind of stuff’s happened to me about twenty times since I was a kid. I can’t stand

it” (Chapter 24).

The importance of the incident in that night lay in Holden’s interpretation of Mr Antolini’s caressing his head rather ...

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