In this paper I have attempted to trace the development of the use of an innocent, adolescent boy narrator-hero as a recurring major theme in the American novel. The theme developed early with James Fenimore Cooper's character Natty Bumppo in The Deerslayer, and continued throughout major novels into the twentieth century. The other characters selected for the study are Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams, William Faulkner's Ike McCaslin, and J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield. The characteristic adolescent hero is portrayed in a state of innocence and moral superiority before he is corrupted by the adult civilized world. In his attempt to escape the evils and problems of that world, he undergoes a rebirth and initiation experience which places him outside the pale of civilization. There he is usually accompanied by a primitive male companion or father-teacher figure. In the young hero's attempt to preserve his innocence, he seeks to escape involvement with women, for women are portrayed as exemplifying the evils and restrictive qualities of adulthood and civilization. As a result of the hero's early escape-quest experience, he attempts to perpetuate a state of detachment, either in a more primitive life form, avoidance or renunciation of adult or social responsibilities, or a pattern of periodic escapes into a wilderness situation. The last adolescent hero, Holden Caulfield, has broken the pattern to the extent that he has only daydreamed of escape in an urban substitute wilderness, and seems inclined to adjust to the adult civilized world he had sought to escape. The American experience of immigration to and settling of a new world of unspoiled wilderness is portrayed in a fictional return to Eden, in the form of the pure adolescent Adamic hero. And the dream of escape from the evils and problems of adulthood and civilized life into a primitive and simple existence, often takes the form of masculine ritual escape patterns in modern American life.