Which elements of literature support the theme of innocence in The Catcher in the Rye?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "elements of literature" include many different tools and techniques used by authors to tell a story in the most effective way. Elements of literature include using figures of speech, using symbolism, deciding on a particular point of view from which to tell the story, and using devices such as foreshadowing and flashbacks to organize the conflict and plot. The theme of innocence is most likely supported whenever Holden interacts with children and when flashbacks are used to expose the happy times of his childhood. For example, Holden notices a poor family walking by whose son was singing "If a body catch a body coming through the rye" and he says, "It made me feel not so depressed any more" (115). This suggests that innocence can bring peace.

Another example of Holden interacting with the innocence of life is when he walks around the Museum of Natural History with two young boys who a tell him school was out for the day. He responds,

"He was lying, sure as I'm alive, the little bastard. I didn't have anything to do, though, till old Phoebe showed up, so I helped them find the place where the mummies were" (203). 

Holden had a good time with the boys, but had they been adults, he probably would have called them phonies. But since they were innocent children, he hung out with them and had a good time. 

Finally, symbolism is also used to portray innocence and that can be seen through Phoebe, Holden's sister. She is the innocent reason that he stays to face his problems rather than running away like he imagined he would. She's the hope in the future and the innocence worth protecting for Holden. When he realizes that he would break her heart if he ran away, he finds a way to be a catcher in the rye. He realizes that he is happiest around innocent Phoebe. His moment of awakening is when she is riding around on the carousel in the park and he says the following:

". . . I got soaked anyway. I didn't care, though. I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth" (213).


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The Catcher in the Rye

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