Catcher in the Rye


Innocence, Compassion, and some ?Crazy? Cliff A novel, which has gained literary recognition worldwide, scrutiny to the point of censorship and has established a following among adolescents, The Catcher in the Rye is in its entirety a unique connotation of the preservation of innocence and the pursuit of compassion. With certain elegance the writer J.D. Salinger, substantiates the growth and perils, which lie between childhood and adulthood. Embellishing the differentiation between innocence and squalor in the grasps of society. The bridge that lies between these contrasting themes are personified through the novel?s protagonist, Holden Caul-field and his visualization of a cliff, which depicts a dividing point between the evident beginning and end. The connection, which binds this gap in reality, was made clear through a new found compassion, consummating Holden?s place in society through the realization of his surroundings from which he successfully crosses over. Focusing on the rebellious and confused actuality of adolescents stuck between the innocence of childhood and the corruptness of the adult world, this novel strikes a cord, which most adolescents can relate. The essence of the story The Catcher in the Rye follows the forty-eight hour escapade of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, told through first person narration. After his expulsion from Pency, a fashionable prep school, the lat-est in a long line of expulsions, Holden has a few confrontations with his fellow students and leaves shortly after to return to his hometown, New York City. In the heart of New York City, Holden spends the following two days hiding out to rest before confronting his parents with the news. During his adventures in the city he tries to renew some old acquaintances, find his significance in the adult world, and come to grips with the head-aches he has been having lately. Eventually, Holden sneaks home to visit his sister Phoebe, because alone on the streets he feels as if he has no where else to turn. Children are the only people with whom Holden can communicate with throughout the novel, not because they can help him with his growing pains but because they remind him of a simpler time (his inno-cence), which he wishes he could return. The trials of the adult world wear down Holden?s vision of a place in society, portraying innocence as a form of retreat from a confusing world. On the subject of innocence and symbolism there of, which is repre-sented through Holden?s thoughts and actions, S.N. Behrman writes: "Holden?s difficulties affect his nervous system but never his vision. It is the vision of an innocent. To the lifeline of this vision he clings invinci-bly, as he does to a phonograph record he buys for Phoebe (till it breaks) and a red hunting cap that is dear to him and that he finally gives to Phoebe, and to Allie?s baseball glove." Understanding Holden?s notion of innocence and the role it plays throughout the novel helps to put in tune the underlying message found in Holden?s description of the catcher in the rye. "I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody?s around--nobody big, I mean- except me. And I?m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they?re running and they don?t look where they?re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That?s all I?d do all day. I?d just be the catcher in the rye and all." (Pg. 173) The princi-ple of the catcher in the rye is a means for Holden to devote his life to the protection of innocence. The significance of the catcher image lies in three areas of thought as implied by B. Ramachandra Rao: "First of all, it is a savior image, and shows us the extent of Holden?s re-ligious idealism. Secondly, it crystallizes for us Holden?s concept of good and evil; childhood is good, the only pure good, but it is surrounded by perils, the cliff of adolescence over which the children will plunge in the evil of adulthood unless stopped. But finally, the image is based on a mis-understanding. The Burns poem goes ?If a body meet a body? not ?if a body catch a body,? and the fact