"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Catcher in the Rye - Holden
In JD Salingers' Catcher in the Rye, a troubled teenager named Holden Caufield struggles with the fact that everyone has to grow up. The book gets its title from Holden's constant concern with the loss of innocence. He did not want children to grow up because he felt that adults are corrupt. This is seen when Holden tries to erase naughty words from the walls of an elementary school where his younger sister Phoebe attended. "While I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written 'Fuck you' on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them- all cockeyed, naturally- what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd written it. I figured it was some perverty bum that'd sneaked in the school late at night to take a leak or something and then wrote it on the wall. I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and how I'd smash his head on the stone steps till hew as good and goddam dead and bloody." (201) His deep concern with impeccability caused him to create stereotypes of a hooligan that would try to corrupt the children of an elementary school. Holden believed that children were innocent because they viewed the world and society without any bias. When Phoebe asked him to name something that he would like to be when he grew up, the only thing he would have liked to be was a "catcher in the rye." He invented an illusion for himself of a strange fantasy. He stated that he would like to follow a poem by Robert Burns: "If a body catch a body comin' through the rye." He kept "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. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be." (173) Holden wants to stop children from "falling" into losing their innocence and becoming an adult, and he takes pleasure in the attempted thwarting of maturation.
In the beginning of Catcher in the Rye, his initial character is one of a child. Throughout the book, he takes steps and the forces of change take a toll on his childish ways. In the end, he seems to be changed into a man. Holden is definitely extremely immature in the beginning of the book. He characterizes almost every person he meets as a "phony". He feels that he is surrounded by hypocrites in a school filled with fakery. Principal Thurmer, the principal of Holden's high school, Pencey, was the leader of the whole charade. During a teacher/parent day, Principal Thurmer would only say hello to the wealthy parents of students. He would not associate himself with those that were not financially stable, because he was a phony.
Holden also maintains a lack of responsibility throughout the whole book. He was the equipment manager of the fencing team at Pencey, but he lost the equipment on the subway. He also failed out of two schools for lack of effort and absences from classes. Holden also had a daydream about two children who never grew up, whore main in a perfect world forever. This daydream is a result of his younger brother Allie's death. Allie represents the unchangeable youth of which Holden must let go if he ever expects to maintain sanity. Holden has a fixation on childhood, which shows itself in many forms. His glorification of children, inordinate admiration of Phoebe, idealization of his dead younger brother, and the joy he gets from reminiscing about his own childhood all contribute to his obsession
View Full Essay
Literary realism, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, J. D. Salinger, Phoebe Buffay, Comin Thro the Rye, Holden, The Catcher in the Rye in popular culture, holden caufield, catcher in the rye holden, sister phoebe, loss of innocence, comin through the rye, troubled teenager, robert burns, naughty words, standing on the edge, catcher in the rye, stone steps, little kids, stereotypes, bum, couple of days, illusion, bias, poem, adults, hell
More Free Essays Like This