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Allie Died: What Did He Stand For?

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message 1: by Monty J (last edited Jan 28, 2015 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Allie died of cancer at age eleven. Other than innocence, what did he represent? Both he and James Castle could symbolize innocence sacrificed on the alter of adulthood. Though Castle died violently, an apparent suicide, neither boy was guilty of some egregious wrongdoing. Religious rituals have involved the taking of innocent life, with Jesus being a prominent example. Through his poetry, Allie stood for art. And James Castle, by refusing to submit to fascist bulling, stood for freedom of the human spirit.

People always seem reluctant to talk about the ones who have died. People die and everyone's in a big hurry to forget about them. "Put it behind you," they say. "Let bygones be bygones."

No one talks about the dead and what their lives meant, what they stood for, or failed at while striving for something. But not Holden. Holden is haunted by the deaths of James Castle and Allie.

Innocent kids aren't supposed to die, but they do all the time and when they do it raises the ante on the bet made each time a child is born. Life means something. And when it stops we need to park the car, turn off the radio and think.

There were two alcohol-related death during my kids' high school years and nobody wanted to talk about it. Grief counselors should have been brought in at school. Nothing. Kids just went on with their cheerleading and football games and pep rallies and two kids' lives got brushed under the rug. Detritus on the soles of restless Reeboks and Nikes.

Holden Cauflield was profoundly affected by the deaths of Allie and James. He can't move on. He didn't cry at Allie's funeral. He's a basket case because he needs to grieve. He is forced to face what these two lives mean to him. Allie speaks to us through Holden's "madman stuff" and the poems he wrote on his baseball glove.

The deaths of Allie and James could represent not just the metaphoric death of childhood on the odyssey toward adulthood, but the deaths of all innocent people.

Holden still has the glove. He's holding onto it. He can't let go. A physical treasure of leather anointed with Allie's sweat and creativity.

If there were a sequel to Catcher in the Rye, what do you think Holden will do with Allie's glove?


Monty J Heying Edward wrote: "The only Allie I have ever heard of was Allie Reynolds; a professional baseball pitcher. He was a Native American; nicknamed "Big Chief," was with the New York Yankees in 1951; and pitched two no-hitters that year. Coincidence?"

(Thanks for the compliment.)

It's a puzzle to me. It could be, of course. Or an oblique WWII connection of some sort that I don't get. Dead Allies = dead Allie? If so, why? They were't innocent.


Silverpiper Monty J wrote: "Edward wrote: "The only Allie I have ever heard of was Allie Reynolds; a professional baseball pitcher. He was a Native American; nicknamed "Big Chief," was with the New York Yankees in 1951; and p..."

In WW2 (and later, Korea and Vietnam) men were drafted into the armed forces. Most of these men were idealistic and innocent, war itself defiled them.

I don't think I can picture Holden as an adult. Salinger's longing to return to a state of grace/innocence is evidenced on virtually every page of this book. Even at the end Holden isn't entirely convinced he will be ok.

I would have given the glove (poetry and all) to another 11 year old who played baseball.


Monty J Heying Silverpiper wrote: "I would have given the glove (poetry and all) to another 11 year old who played baseball."

Me too.


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