Allie's baseball glove and the poems written on it.
Our teacher gave us a question to think about:
How does Allie's baseball glove and the poems on it (or even Allie himself) support the thesis that Holden's mission in the novel is to preserve the innocence of children?
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On a simpler level, the fact that Holden has kept this baseball glove with him as a remembrance of Allie suggests his protective nature on a physical level and also points out how he values Allie's memory more than any other current relationship, etc.
Given the way that Holden refers to Allie and the contrast between that and the way he refers to all of his friends or acquaintances, basically anyone alive except for Phoebe, it is clear that he has an idealized view of the innocence of childhood and the baseball glove serves as a physical symbol of that feeling.
Holden himself struggles with his own loss of innocence as a maturing, adolescent male. He identifies intensely with children as he moves through his own personal journey in 1950's New York. We understand slowly throughout the novel that Allie "had the potential" to become a great writer just like his older brother D.B. But, unlike D.B. he might never have gone off to California to "prostitute" his writing. Allie had the possibility of becoming better than D.B. and even better than Holden himself. Both Allie and Phoebe demonstrate writing ability to a certain extent, Allie with his poems and Phoebe with her stories written under the name of Hazel Weatherfield. Holden loves everything about Phoebe, her stories, her taste in music and movies, and even her skating. She represents true innocence. She even takes the blame for him when his mother smells his cigarette smoke in Phoebe's room.
He places both his younger siblings on a pedestal and idealizes their behavior and motivations. We can see in Phoebe a true devotion and even a longing to be around her big brother. She has no qualms about packing a bag and going off with Holden when she suspects he may be running away. She offers him all of her money without hesitation and even keeps the broken pieces of the record he accidently broke. These things touch Holden and reinforce his idea that children are perfect in their innocence. The longer they can be protected, the longer they can exist in this state of innocence.
He does, however, feel very guilty about his relationship with his younger brother. He remembers times when Allie wanted to tag along and he told him no. He beats himself up over these memories to the point where he reveals he broke all the windows in the garage. He feels he has failed Allie in some fundamental way and this failure could be a profound source for his own angst and disappointment with the world around him. He writes Stradleter's composition about the mitt and becomes incensed when he faces criticism about the essay. He's still very protective of the memory of his brother.
The only things that get through to him on his personal journey seem to be when he hears the little boy's "Catcher" song. It cheers him up when nothing else will but the obscene words written in places where children might read them bring him right back down. When Phoebe reaches for the brass ring at the end of the novel, she is reaching for "adult" things that might get her hurt. Holden realizes this and mourns for loss of that innocence for her if she should actually catch the ring or if she should fall while trying to obtain it.
Allie's glove symbolizes love and empathy in the novel. Holden has trouble sympathizing with others and fitting in. Allie was the one person Holden could truly identify with and care for. When Allie died, Holden punched out the windows until his hand turned bloody. He can't even make a proper first because of that. Holden is still very much grieving for Allie and carries Allie's glove around as a sentimental reminder.
Children are some of the few people that Holden does not consider phony. Naturally, he wants to preserve anything that is not phony.
Heres a thought to ponder: Allie's glove has poetry on it right? Holden deeply cares about Allie and is affected greatly by him and his death. Alllie's glove with poetry on it connects to holden wanting to preserve inncoence by "catching" kids falling from a cliff. He gets this from poetry of " "catcher" in the rye". Connection between Allies glove and "catcher" poetry?
I think so
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