How does the museum in The Catcher in the Rye relate to innocence?

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Throughout the novel, Holden Caulfield is partly stuck in his childhood and partly longing to become an adult. Innocence is an important theme because he wishes he could return to the time before his brother Allie became ill and died. Part of Holden's clinging to the past includes his nostalgia...

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Throughout the novel, Holden Caulfield is partly stuck in his childhood and partly longing to become an adult. Innocence is an important theme because he wishes he could return to the time before his brother Allie became ill and died. Part of Holden's clinging to the past includes his nostalgia for the various places in New York that he and his family used to go.

The Central Park carousel where he goes with Phoebe is one such place. The carousel symbolism is fitting because it just goes around in circles rather than in a forward direction. Holden also wants to keep his sister's image the same in his mind, not only preserving her innocence but dreaming of protecting ("catching") all the little children

In a similar way, the American Museum of Natural History stands for the innocence of Holden's younger days. Inside its galleries, things are preserved in display cases. Scenes of bygone lifeways seem eternal. Not just the native peoples and their artifacts, but the experience of having visited the museum in the past is caught up in those galleries.

The timeless quality is appealing to Holden because he can lose himself and forget the painful reality of the present when he must accept the fact of living without his brother.

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