The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Innocence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another "Fuck you" on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one was scratched on, with a knife or something. It wouldn't come off. It's hopeless, anyway. If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the "Fuck you" signs in the world. It's impossible. (25.18)
It’s impossible to erase all the filth (and phoniness), so you either have to learn to live with the fact that the world simply isn’t innocent, or… not. And “not” involves some really unpleasant options, like having a mental breakdown or committing suicide.
That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive, in fact. (25.39)
Check out how this passage connects two of Holden's major obsessions: mortality and the "filth" of the world (which many would categorize under "loss of innocence"). This reminds us that, in a way, growing up—getting exposed to "filth" and various "fuck you"s—is a sort of death in itself: a death of innocence. We just suspect that it happens a lot earlier than Holden thinks.
"Hey, how old are you, anyways?"
"Like fun you are."
It was a funny thing to say. It sounded like a real kid. You'd think a prostitute and all would say "Like hell you are" or "Cut the crap" instead of "Like fun you are." (13.30-35)
Aw, how cute: a prostitute who won’t say “hell” or “crap.” Holden still sees a lingering innocence in her—which means, obviously, that he can’t have sex with her. (But he can refuse to pay her jacked-up price and get socked in the stomach for his chivalry.)