The Catcher in the Rye
Evaluation of the Debate Around the Catcher in the Rye, a J.d. Salinger’s Book
Ever since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye has served as a cornerstone for controversy and debate. It is a story of a teenager growing up in New York, who has been expelled from school for poor grades. In an attempt to deal with this, he leaves school a few days prior to the end of term, and goes to the city to take a vacation before returning to his parents. The central theme of The Catcher in the Rye emanates from the confrontation and ultimate loss of innocence that occurs hand in hand with the assimilation into society and the loneliness that arises thereafter. Holden’s misguided morality brings about a dysfunctional personality that begs to be psychoanalyzed, not only in his interactions with the outside world, but also his internal motivation. The psychological battles of this novel’s main character serve as the basis for critical argument. Caulfield’s self-destruction over a period of days forces one to look at society’s attitude toward the human condition. Salinger’s portrayal of this teenager, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, vulgarity, and other erratic behavior, have all attributed to the controversial nature of the novel.
Holden s sensitivity is one of his main aspects, in fact he is probably too sensitive for his own good. He suffers from an almost an uncontrollable urge to protect people he sees as vulnerable. He is attracted to the weak and the frail, and he “feels sorry for” losers of all kinds, even those who cause him pain, discomfort, or trouble. But the main focus of Holden’s protective instinct is children, whom he sees as symbols of goodness and innocence, and whom he would like to shield against corruption. He has a daydream about children who never grow up, who remain in that perfect world forever and his own problems of facing the real world are linked to that daydream. I kept picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of That s all I do all day. I just be the catcher in the rye and all. (Salinger 173) One sign of corruption in Holden’s worldview is the process of growing up, since it removes us from the perfect innocence of childhood. His vision of the cliff develops out into his own dream to be saved. What he wants to be saved from, isn t exactly clear even in Holden s mind. Caulfield s apparent virtue helps to mask his true character. It s not difficult to understand why readers have always ignored Holden s grave deficiencies as a person.
Loneliness motivates the character, Holden Caulfield, to break off communication of with society. His problem is one of communication: as a teenager, he simply cannot get through to the adult world that surrounds him. As a sensitive teenager, he cannot get through others of his own age. Adult communication intimidates and alienates his character. Moreover, Holden expresses his problem with communication indirectly and in a striking and decisive moment, he relays his desire to become a deaf mute. I did not care what kind of job it was, though. Just so people did not know me and I did not know anybody. I thought what I would do was, I would pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they’d have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They’d get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I’d be through with having conversations for the rest of my life. . . I’d cook all my own food, and later on, if I wanted to get married or something, I’d meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we’d get married. She’d come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she’d have to write it on a piece of paper, like everybody else (Salinger 198). Holden is essentially a loner, but not because he dislikes people. His loneliness arises from the fact that no one seems to share his view of the world, no one understands what’s going on in his head. His poor academic record is one indication of his failure to deal with this problem, a problem that builds to a climax in the course of the novel.
One character that Holden is compared to in some ways is Hamlet. Like Hamlet, he is bothered by words that only seem true, but really quite phony. The integrity and truthfulness that Caulfield cannot seem to find in others he tries to maintain within himself. Holden often makes a point of using the word “really” to state the fact that something is really so, to prove to the reader that had not become a phony himself. I knew old Jane like a book. I really did I really got to know her quite intimately. Holden is frightened often by the occasional realization that he too, must be phony to exist in the adult world. The irony of this situation is that, he is phony to everyone even to him self. Through out the novel he tells us that he can t stand most of the people that he meets. At the end of the novel, Holden says, “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice.” (Salinger 217). This phrase alone contradicts most of his actions through out the book.
Only Salinger will ever completely understand all of the character’s complexities and flaws. He penned Holden to be purposely puzzling; to evade all attempts to pin him down to one stereotype. Through his actions and reactions to society and others, Holden demonstrates to the reader the theme of acceptance, illustrated throughout the novel. Holden speaks his mind, which the average teenage reader values highly.
The Concept of Consumer and Its Representation
The World Wars, being some of the most important events in history, changed society and created the modern world we know today. The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, is a critic of the new, modern world that was created in the post war era. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, famously judges and criticizes almost everything around him. JD Salinger uses Holden’s judgmental thoughts to demonstrate the detriment a society revolving around social class can be. Holden feels trapped in and tries to escape the prep school lifestyle, but finds himself at another in the fall. Holden judges the quality and price of suitcases of those below him, even at an elite prep school, and sees everyone socioeconomically above him as phony while everyone who is socioeconomically below him is depressing.
Marxism is the idea that “all war is class war”; the conflicts in society all stem from the separation between people based on their wealth. There is no social class separate from economic class. Holden and his family are in the upper class socioeconomically, meaning they are socially elite and economically wealthy. Holden, a naive teenager, knows that he is separate from others, because he’s less cool or younger than they are, but he doesn’t see the ways he looks down on others for their economic class. Holden brings up the quality of the suitcases of a roommate he hasn’t seen in years. It’s telling that he remembers such a small commodity and associates an entire person with this. Holden reduces his roommate, Dick Slagle, to the suitcases he took to school. Holden even says, “ It isn’t important, I know” but still goes on about how he “hate[s] it when somebody has cheap suitcases,” (page 13). Holden associates himself with his suitcases that “came from Mark Cross, and they were genuine cowhide and all that crap, and I guess they cost quite a pretty penny” (page 13). Despite that Holden didn’t succeed at this school at all, he thinks of himself as superior to his roommate for something so small as his suitcases. This connects to Marxism because an important belief in this theory is, first, that people are in the class socially that they are in economically, and also because of the idea of sign exchange value. Sign exchange value is the idea that “a commodity’s value lies in the social status it confers on its owner” (Tyson 59). Holden is assigning a sign exchange value to these suitcases and oppressing his roommate through this. A critical inquiry at the University of Chicago connects the capitalist society that Holden lives in to the economic struggle represented by these suitcases. The critic says, “Only a few can hope for suitcases, at the expense of the many, and enjoyment of them depends on shutting out awareness of the many. Furthermore, even the few are somehow blocked from enjoyment by the antagonistic striving required to secure one’s suitcases,” (Ohmann and Ohmann). Holden does not focus on how much he appreciates his suitcases, just the conflict that is caused by those who wish to have them. This is how a society revolving around social class and sign exchange value, like in the theory of Marxism, manipulates people into separating themselves from each other. JD Salinger, through Holden and suitcases, shows how relationships between people, even unconsciously, can be manipulated by their socioeconomic classes.
Besides exploring Marx’s ideas on how capitalism affects the relationship between people in different socioeconomic classes, Tyson explores the way that Marxism attempts to analyze the people in these classes and the way their class affects their life. Tyson implies that a Marxist criticism would evaluate Holden’s negative and judgmental thoughts as a function of his class and feelings towards being in that class. This is because Holden is a critic to others around him, but also to himself. He criticizes the situations that he puts himself into an even greater extent than those he does not. Holden chooses to hire a prostitute and chooses not to pay her the extra five dollars she demands. Holden puts himself in this situation, where money (socioeconomic class) is the central force behind this interaction between himself, the pimp, and the prostitute. But yet, despite causing the situation and being able to resolve it, which would put him in control, Holden feels trapped. He uses language to imply this in the scene, saying, “He was almost standing on top of me,” (page 44). Holden also implies that his actions were not in his control when he says, “All of a sudden I started to cry. I’d give anything if I hadn’t, but I did,” (page 45). Holden even stays on the ground, after the pimp hurts him and leaves, saying, “Then I stayed on the floor a fairly long time, sort of the way I did with Stradlater. Only, this time I thought I was dying. I really did. I thought I was drowning or something. The trouble was, I could hardly breathe,” (page 45). Although Holden is in control, both because he could have given the pimp and the prostitute money before they hurt him and because he is physically in control of his own body, Holden feels trapped. It is also evident that he feels trapped in his lifestyle as a member of the upper socioeconomic class in the way he tries (and fails) to evade the prep school lifestyle. A University of Chicago literary criticism points out that this relationship, between Holden and school, is important in seeing his relationship to the rest of society. The criticism says, “‘School is the agency by which America more than most countries consciously socializes the imma- ture for entry into the approved adult activities: and so a boy’s relation to school becomes a microcosm of the individual’s relation to his society.’ (Way)” (Ohmann and Ohmann) Holden even goes as far as to say that he’s going to move out west. He says his plan is to, “start hitchhiking my way out West. What I’d do, I figured, I’d go down to the Holland Tunnel and bum a ride, and then I’d bum another one, and another one, and another one, and in a few days I’d be somewhere out West where it was very pretty and sunny and where nobody’d know me and I’d get a job,” (page 110). Holden has been expelled from four boarding schools, which is a function of his own actions, and is choosing to go out West. This would separate him from the upper class prep school lifestyle that he is obviously trying to evade, but it doesn’t. Holden returns to a prep school in the fall and never goes out West to escape it. This is because Holden is trapped in his socioeconomic class; although he is apart of the privileged class, Holden is still oppressed by this societal structure. Lois Tyson explains this phenomenon, “The family unconsciously carries out the cultural “program” in raising its children, but that program is produced by the socioeconomic culture within the which the family operates,” (Tyson, page 14). Holden goes back to prep school because of his family’s wishes; his parents raised him in the “cultural program” of high class prep school because of their high class socioeconomic status. This “cultural program” is what Holden is trying to escape from because he feels trapped in it. Marxism would use this as an example of how people, even those in the upper class, are oppressed by the Capitalist system.
Holden Caulfield feels trapped in his lifestyle, but he doesn’t realize that he is really trapped in a consumerist society that revolves around social class. He criticizes others for their suitcases or their breakfasts, but doesn’t realize he is actually criticizing their standing in a capitalist, consumer driven society. Holden is a mesmerizing character; he is relatable to some and infuriating to others. But these ideas of Holden cannot be separated from his experiences as the socioeconomic elite. This elite has existed since the post World Wars, industrial lifestyle came to be. It is strange to think that all Americans are still living in a society that, despite being more accepting of identities and sexualities, continues to oppress people for their class and allow others to flourish at the expense of those below them. This is the model that allows the owners, CEOs, and other leaders of Walmart to make billions while their un-unionized employees work for minimum wage.
Analysis of the Character of Holden in J.D. Salinger’s Book, The Catcher in The Rye
One of the most significant themes in Catcher in the Rye is Holden’s loss of innocence. Holden, as the novel progresses, shows a lack of innocence and an introduction to the “real world”. Holden attempts to grasp back at his previous innocence as a base for his emotions. There are various symbols and events throughout the novel that discuss Holden’s loss of innocence.
One of the most significant of these is the glove belonging to Holden’s deceased brother, Allie. This glove reminds Holden of his youthful fruitfulness and his unending love as a child. As Holden matures and enters adolescence he begins to lose this sense of love. The fact that he went to a boarding school may have contributed to this loss of love due to the fact that he was surrounded by phonies. He starts out the novel by saying “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” This statement was said when he was in a medical center, after the story took place. He does not want to discuss his loving happiness as a child, rather he discuss his downfall in life. He acts as if he is afraid of his previous innocence and doesn’t like to reflect back upon it.
Another example of his innocence would be his interest in the ducks at the pond. He cares about those ducks and consistently asks people about what happens to the ducks in the winter. Despite the fact that probably nobody would know, he still asks them hoping to find an answer even though he knews his asking will get him nowhere.
Another important event would be the young boy singing “If a body meet a body coming through the rye.” This reminds Holden of his youth. The boy’s standing in the middle of the road symbolizes his innocence and lack of knowledge due to the danger of cars. Despite the fact that the boy is poor, he is still innocent and doesn’t have to worry about clothing or feeding himself. This is done by the parents concealing him from the real world like Holden in the beginning of his flashback. When Holden heard this he reflected on his past in a depressed manner. It seems as if he missed his past but didn’t want to grasp at it again.
Holden’s growth and steady maturity also lead to Holden’s loss of innocence. When Holden takes his sister, Phoebe, to the carousel, he chooses not to ride the carousel. He states that the carousel is for younger people. This statement shows that Holden has matured out of the carousel. He sits out and instead watches his younger sister on the carousel. Holden says that he will go on the next ride but fails due to his maturity and loss of innocence. Holden remembered his youthful innocence and stress free life as a child. Holden doesn’t ride the carousel proving that he is afraid to step back into his childhood by failing to step onto the carousel.
Holden’s loss of innocence eventually led to his downfall and final emotional collapse. Holden’s speech in the very last chapter, however, shows a chance that Holden may once again regain emotional control and finally take a firm grasp on his youthful innocence.
“The Catcher in the Rye” Review
People rebel for a cause. In the book “The Catcher in the Rye” , the protagonist, Holden Caulfield is living in a school called Pencey Prep. Holden is failing all of his classes except English, and he often curses and smokes cigarettes in his dorm. One of Holden’s main problems in life is the death of his brother Allie. Allie, who died of leukemia 3 years prior to the events of the book, was the only person who deeply understood Holden. When Allie died, Holden broke all of the windows in his garage while breaking his own hand. Holden even states that he tried to break his family’s station wagon, but his hand was broken. This event shows that Holden really cared about Allie and that his death had a huge impact on his life. The death of Allie created a fear for Holden, Holden became afraid of change. Holden himself stated that Allie was very mature for his age and very smart in the quote “He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent.” (p. 21). The way Holden sees change is the more you grow, the closer to death you find yourself. In the poem “Novel” by Arthur Rimbaud, the narrator talks about drinking and walking around. The narrator is having fun and is in tune with the environment. A quote that supports this is “At times the air is so scented that we close our eyes,” Other lines in the stanza also support this idea. In the next section, the narrator talks about his/her surroundings and how he feels. He is interrupted by a sudden kiss and starts to tremble like a small insect. In the next section, the narrator starts to talk to himself in his mind.
The narrator uses the word ‘you’ not to the reader, but to himself to think about the things he is seeing, for example the attractive girl. The narrator was probably kissed by the attractive girl and now he is thinking to himself. She is probably not supposed to see the narrator because of her father. The line “Under the shadow of her father’s terrible collar …” proves this idea. The narrator is hesitant when kissing her which is proved by the line “And as she finds you incredibly naïve,” The narrator is most likely afraid of what will happen next if he continues with the girl. He is probably afraid that something would happen between him and her father, so he becomes afraid of the change about to occur. “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Novel” shares a very similar characteristic. Holden is afraid of change because his brother Allie died and he believes that growing up will lead to death and ultimately nothing good will come out of it. The narrator in “Novel” is also afraid of change because he is hesitant when he is kissing the girl. The narrator also drinks beer and has a good time walking around saying that he isn’t serious because he’s 17. Both Holden and the narrator are afraid of change and coming of age.
People who usually have trouble accepting change often have trouble accepting other people. In “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, Holden looks down upon many people, sometimes even when he doesn’t know them. He refers to these people as ‘phonies’. The relationship between Holden and Jane was just friendly, in Jane’s point of view. Holden had a most likely secret crush on her, but didn’t have the guts to tell her. Even when Stradlater was dating her, he thought of calling her up but he didn’t in the end because Holden doesn’t have the guts to admit his true feelings to her, much less to talk to her. Holden makes up an excuse about not being in the mood, just to have a reason not to call her up. The quote that proves this idea is “The only reason I didn’t do it was because I wasn’t in the mood.” (p. 34). By calling Jane up, Holden thought that things would change and so would his relationship with Jane, especially after the fight with Stradlater. He was possibly afraid that Stradlater told Jane about the fight and that he was either too embarrassed to talk to her or Stradlater told a tall tale and made Holden seem like the bad guy. In “Novel” by Arthur Rimbaud, the narrator starts to hesitate when kissing the girl. She’s attractive and she’s kissing him but the narrator is afraid. The reason he is afraid is because of change. If he goes through and kisses the girl, things might happen and the girl’s father might catch them. The girl’s father is probably protective of her. The line that suggests this is “Under the shadow of her father’s terrible collar . . .” The father is probably the type that doesn’t want boys to come near his daughter. The narrator’s lifestyle seems to be happy and frivolous, especially because he mentions that seventeen year olds don’t take things seriously and he mentions beer, which probably means he likes to hang out and party. The two lines that support this idea are “We aren’t serious when we’re seventeen” and “…to hell with beer and lemonade,” In both works, both Holden and the narrator have a relationship with the opposite sex. They’re both in love with the other person, or at least find them attractive, but they’re afraid of what will happen next. In the end, both the narrator and Holden are afraid of change, their actions might change the relationships between the women (in Holden’s case) or their actions might put an end to a free roaming lifestyle where you can do anything you want and not go into a long term commitment (in the narrator’s case).
Sometimes people want to do something in a way they want they want to do it. In “The Catcher in the Rye”, Holden talks about sex multiple times. He even calls himself a sex maniac and recalls multiple times when he almost had sexual intercourse with a girl, but failed. For example, he ranted about how on double dates, when the two couples are in the car, the girl in the front always looks to the back to see what’s going on. Holden sees this as the reason why he hasn’t lost his virginity yet. Sometime later, Holden decides to hire a prostitute. After she pulls her dress over her head, Holden begins to feel peculiar and chickens out. He decides to just talk to Sunny because he is too nervous to have sex with her, with it being a sudden moment and all. The quote that proves this is “I certainly felt peculiar when she did that. I mean she did it so sudden and all. I know you’re supposed to feel pretty sexy when somebody gets up and pulls their dress over their head, but I didn’t. Sexy was about the last thing I was feeling.” (p. 51).
In “Novel”, the narrator obviously worships the girl. The lines that prove this are “While clicking her little boots,” and “She turns abruptly, and in a lively way …” The narrator notices every movement the girl makes, he is fond of her and worships her because she is attractive. The narrator says that he isn’t serious at seventeen, but he is in love and he hesitates after he kisses her. Both Holden and the narrator are afraid of change. Holden hires a prostitute with the intention of finally losing his virginity, something that he always talks about and wants. Proof of this would be when Holden calls himself a sex maniac and when he goes to a bar with Carl Luce, where he cannot stop talking about sex. But after sunny takes off her dress, Holden again does not have the guts to go through with it and he hesitates. Maybe he viewed Sunny as special, but most likely Holden was afraid that if he loses his virginity, he’ll be one step closer towards growing up, and thus becoming a man.
The narrator is also afraid because if he continues kissing the girl, he will come of age and be entered in a long term commitment with her. Seeing as he’s seventeen and his logic that seventeen year olds don’t take things seriously, the narrator doesn’t want to go into a long term commitment because he wants to do whatever he wants and not come of age when he has to become serious and stop hanging out and drinking beer, but he loves the girl and worships her, so Holden and the narrator are in a situation where they want something, but in order to get it they have to do something they don’t want to do. Both Holden and the narrator are afraid that if they continue their actions with their women, they will take a step closer towards adulthood and thus, change.
In “The Catcher in the Rye”, Holden starts getting a grasp at change. When he goes home and talks to Phoebe, he tells her about this fantasy he’s been having. Holden, wearing his red hunting hat was in a field of rye, where children were playing a game. Holden would run over and catch them before they reached the cliff and fell off. The cliff can be a symbol for growing up, or adulthood which is what Holden as against. When the children are playing the game, the rye is tall and they probably aren’t paying attention to where they’re going. Holden’s job would be to catch them and prevent them from becoming adults and thus preserving their life. Holden then goes to his old English teacher, Mr. Antolini. Mr. Antolini gives Holden basically the same advice old Spencer gives him. He tells Holden to find himself and ultimately grow up. These events are the rising action to the scene where Holden gives Phoebe his red hunting hat. This symbolizes the fact that he has grown up and accepted change, and is now making Phoebe the next ‘catcher in the rye’. Holden ultimately accepts change and lets out his feelings by crying after all of this time and finally becomes an adult (“I felt so damn happy all of sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth [p. 114]).
Holden accepts change and releases his feelings after a number of events push him into changing, such as his conversation with Phoebe, Mr. Antolini and the image of Phoebe on the carousel. These events are the rising action to the climax, where Holden starts to cry and releases his feelings after giving Phoebe the red hunting hat. In “Novel” the narrator also accepts change. In the line “You are in love. Occupied until the month of August.” You can tell that the narrator has also accepted change, because he is occupied with the girl, presumably dating her. In the line “All your friends go off, you are ridiculous.” We can see that the narrator has left his old lifestyle of wandering and beer and is now in a sophisticated and long term relationship, until a certain point. In this case, when the girl kissed the narrator, those events triggered a moment of hesitation where the narrator had to make a choice, leave his old lifestyle and pursue a relationship with the girl, or he can continue his free lancing and not take things seriously. The narrator changes, but the girl becomes what he was, a seventeen year old who doesn’t take things seriously. When Holden gives Phoebe his red hunting hat, he is making her the next ‘catcher in the rye’. He grows into adulthood and he takes Phoebe as his replacement by giving her the red hunting hat, which symbolizes the role. Both Holden and the narrator grow into new roles and give up their old roles to women. Although, they both give up their roles and grow into adulthood to the same women who helped and influenced them to grow up. These characters helped the protagonists overcome their fear of change and finally turn them into adults.
Loss of Innocence: the Catcher in the Rye and Rebel Without a Cause
Each day, someone loses his or her innocence due to a seminal moment that changes his or her life forever. This concept of lost innocence is represented in both the novel The Catcher in the Rye and the film Rebel Without a Cause. Protagonists Holden Caulfield and Jim Stark strive to preserve the innocence of others in order to protect them from the turmoil they see every day in the real world. Similarly, both highly developed characters take on the role of protecting someone they care for immensely.
In Rebel Without a Cause, Jim befriends a boy named Plato who has trouble fitting in with the other teenagers at their school. When the two friends and Judy go to an abandoned mansion late at night, Plato opens up and shares his belief that his parents have completely cast him aside. It is apparent to Jim that his friend is beginning to see the true colors of the world, so he steps in to try to preserve his friend’s innocence as long as he can. He and Judy pretend to be a couple who are looking at the mansion in hopes of a new home for them and their kids. Plato starts off by pretending to be the real estate broker, but quickly switches to portraying their son when Jim starts acting as a parental figure to him. By acting like a father to to his friend, Jim is allowing him to live the youth Plato is afraid he has already lost. However, in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden talks with his little sister Phoebe about what he really wants to be; a catcher in the rye. He explains what that means when he says “what I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff” (Salinger 173). The “cliff” Holden is referring to is the seminal moment in which innocence is lost. He wants to “catch” or shield them from “[going] over” or growing up. Holden knows what it’s like to fall off the cliff and see what the world is actually like, so he wants to keep them happy and oblivious of the metaphorical cliff they are constantly nearing.
Holden and Jim share the belief that almost all grown-ups are phonies because they no longer have the innocence that used to make them comfortable in their own skin. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is constantly using this term to negatively refer to many adults he encounters. While talking about parents and people of high status,such as priests, he says “I don’t see why the hell they can’t talk in their natural voice. They sound so phony when they talk” (Salinger 100). He is trying to say that people who don’t “talk in their natural voice” are unauthentic and extremely fake. The reason Holden wants to preserve the innocence of others is so that they don’t have to camouflage themselves with a phony identity. Instead of thinking that all those who have lost innocence are phonies, Jim just simply believes that they make phony excuses for their own behavior. When trying to open up to his parent’s about his involvement of the death of Buzz, his mother reluctantly claims that they are going to move again. Jim tries to explain that their can’t just run away from the event because she doesn’t want to deal with it. He calls her out on her actions and says that she is always using any phony excuse she can find to move instead of facing the problem at hand. She denies it again which does not surprise Jim because he knows that grown-ups are unauthentic and will use any reason they can think of to get out of their problems.
In both narratives, there is a reoccurring theme of the color blue representing innocence and the color red representing maturity. Toward the end of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden takes Phoebe to a carousel so she can try to grab for the gold rings. He watches her go around and around on the wooden horse and says “my red hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way” and that “[Phoebe] just looked so damn nice…in her blue coat and all” (Salinger 212-213). Right before this, Phoebe puts the hat on Holden’s head to keep him safe and because she is not ready to wear it yet. When he sees her in that blue peacoat, Holden knows he’s properly kept her safe. The red hunting hat he wears signifies his maturity and gives him “protection” or reassurance that for now, Phoebe still has her innocence. When Plato is shot by the police in Rebel Without a Cause, Jim stays near his friend’s lifeless body in grief. He moves Plato’s pants up so he can look at his mismatched socks; one is red and one is blue. The different colored socks signify that Plato wanted to feel mature, but he wasn’t ready to give up his innocent youth. He was also wearing his friend’s red jacket at the time, which was his attempt at showing he was mature like his friend. Before the police carry his body away, Jim cries and zips up his red coat that is on Plato. He is upset because he feels like he has failed his friend by not being able to preserve his innocence. Jim decided to let Plato keep the jacket because he had lost his innocence and seen the world for what it truly is right before his death; he earned it.
Although Jim and Holden do not attempt to make the mature become innocent again, it is because they know lost innocence cannot ever be found. Preserving the youth of the people they care about before they lose it is how they tackle this problem head on. Even though innocence cannot last forever, these two characters want to shield others from the harsh realities of the world for as long as they can in order to make the world a better place.
The Catcher in the Rye: Literary Devices Found on the Novel
During the reading of the novel written by J. D. Salinger readers will be able to find a great variety of literary devices. These linguistics resources in the whole novel embellishing the words writers express on their work. Readers can find in “The catcher in the Rye” literary devices such as Metaphor, symbolism, Irony, Hyperbole and others.
Following there is some proves of it; Salinger, James “Then I sat down on his cement bed again. (p. 11)” This Metaphor spells a comparison between the hard bed of Holden’s History professor Spenser and a rock or the pavement. Salinger uses Irony to provide emphasis or humor in a language that signifies the opposite. Here is an example; Salinger, James “You are a price Ackley kid. ” (p. 62). To tell his roommate that he is a spoil child. Salinger performs a hyperbole when Holden exaggerates his hair’s appearance. He said “The one side of my head- the right side- is full of millions of gray hair. ” (p. 9).
To make others things about his maturity. SettingsHolden tells the novel at the ends of 1940s or early 1950s former school, Pencey Prep in Pennsylvania while the plot is developed the story moves to New York City.
Bildungsroman, Realism, Satire
Point of view
The catcher in the Rye is narrated in first person by untrustworthy narrator named Holden Caulfield. He shamelessly warns the readers that he is out of his mind, “I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her. I’m crazy. I didn’t even like her much, and yet all of a sudden I felt like I was in love with her and wanted to marry her. I swear to God I’m crazy. I admit it. ” (p. 124). Throughout the whole story, his opinions and judgments end up in reader’s dispute the preciseness of them due to the fact the Holden is not able to understand himself.
The major conflict
The major conflict is in Holden’s brain. One of his sides would like to connect with adults on an adult environment or level more special when he tries to have sex with a woman. On the other hand; the other side wants to decline does not want to grow up, he would like to be a teenager forever. The rising actionThe rising action takes place throughout the novel when Holden’s attempts to get in touch with other people get his conflicting impulses –To interact with adults or to get retreated by them –into direct conflict.
The novel reach the climax at the end of Holden’s meeting with his sister, Phoebe Caulfield, he said to her that he is leaving and she answered that she would like to go with him but he denied and took her to the Zoo when he said “no I cannot take you with me” so she became angry. After he tried to call her attention because he did not like her to be mad at him, when it started to rain she asked him if he is taking her back home and if he is going back as well; he said “yes. ”
Ending the novel Holden realized that he started to miss everyone, his classmates, roommates, professors at pencey, even the man from the hotel’s elevator, Maurice.
Relationships sexuality, intimacy, loneliness, lying and deception
Holden hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. In that way he starts to tell the story at the beginning of the novel.
The tone in the novel varies between the disgust, nostalgic longing, bitterness and cynicism in all of the paragraphs, a special characteristic is that all of them are expressed in a colloquial style.
Holden’s red hunting hat has a bunch of meanings. An example of it is his security and individuality. Holden is a lonely guy and is not able to build connection with other around him as a result he uses his hat as a shield. Holden feels unique using the hat as long as it helps him to build a barrier for others not to have a relationship with the society so that he can quickly turn aside the entire onus to the hat if someone shucks off him. There is a special place that Holden use to visit in the story which is The Museum of Natural History. This place acts out the Holden’s wish to stop time and never to grow up. In the Museum everything is show as was in the past all the time and this is what he loves from there.
The most common demonstration of Irony during the novel is Holden attitude. He seems to be the most normal person everywhere he goes however he made a commentary about his way of thinking and craziness. “I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her. I’m crazy. I didn’t even like her much, and yet all of a sudden I felt like I was in love with her and wanted to marry her. I swear to God I’m crazy. I admit it. ” (p. 124).
Occasionally, Holden made a reference and alluded to the bible when Sunny, the prostitute Maurice sent to Holden’s bedroom, left. He began to break down the Jesus’s disciples actions. He cannot stand them because he felt that they were unqualified during Jesus’s life. He said that Jesus would not send Judas to hell however Jesus’s disciples would do it. Holden looks at the world as good as bad, or as right as wrong so that I can comprehend the complexity of his God which is what bible brings to light.
The Valuable Lessons on the Journey of Maturity in The Catcher in the Rye, a Novel by J. D. Salinger
The Values of Holden’s Journey
“Maturity comes from experience, not age” (Ziad K. Abdelnour). The coming of age story, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger takes some of life’s most valuable lessons like overcoming adversities and the journey of maturity and wraps them all up into one novel.. Holden Caulfield endures more than most kids his age would in one weekend. Instead of heading home after his expulsion from prep school, he goes into New York City for a couple of days. There, he tries to reconnect with old friends and he goes places that evoke old memories. He also finds himself caught in some difficult circumstances where he comes face to face with his values. Each of these situations teaches him something that he will later benefit from. When Holden is forced to step back and reflect on what happened, he finally learns the lessons that he did not see at the time. Holden realizes that he shouldn’t take things for granted while learning more about himself and his moral compass.
Before Holden leaves Pencey, he goes to say goodbye to his teacher, Mr. Spencer, who tries to warn him about his future.
“Do you feel absolutely no concern for your future, boy?”
“Oh, I feel some concern for my future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do.”
I thought about it for a minute. “But not too much, I guess.”
“[…] You will, boy. You will when it’s too late.” (Salinger 20)
Mr. Spencer is one of many who tries to warn Holden about this hole he’s digging for himself. If he continues this way, he’s putting his future in jeopardy. Holden’s teacher fears Holden will realize his mistake too late and won’t be able to fix it. Holden is taking his education at Pencey for granted but he does not see it that way. At the time, Holden is not able to grasp the full meaning of what his teacher is trying to tell him. However, when Holden finally gets help, he is able to finally take in not only what happened that weekend, including his conversation with Mr. Spencer. “D.B. asked me what I thought about all this stuff I just finished telling you about. I didn’t know what the hell to say… About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about”. A running theme throughout Holden’s story is taking things for granted. Holden says he misses everyone he talked about which ties into that theme. In a way, he took their company for granted, only to realize that once he finally gets help. A lesson that Holden presumably learns from this reflection and realization is to not take things for granted.
Throughout Holden’s time in New York, he learns more about himself and his morals. When Holden is presented with the opportunity to have a prostitute meet with him, he is faced with his morals about respect as well as his “sex rules”. “‘Look,’ I said. ‘I don’t feel very much like myself tonight. I’ve had a rough night. Honest to God. I’ll pay for you and all, but do you mind very much if we don’t do it?’ […] The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it”. When the option originally was given to Holden, he jumped at the chance to take it, hoping to get “practice” in. However, when the time came to really carry out his intention, he rescinded and doesn’t follow through with what he said he would do. Holden chose not to follow through because it would go against his values to get intimate with a girl without caring for her. When he is in the sanitarium Holden comes to realize that not following through is something he has a tendency of doing.He mentions this when one of his psychoanalysts asks himabout school. “I mean how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know?”. Holden learns by reflecting on his experiences that one can not always know for sure what they will do or how they will react in a given situation, just as he thought that he would gain sexual experience from his time with the prostitute but when it came time to finally doing it, he chose not to pursue the opportunity. He did not know that he would react this way when he initially accepted the offer. Holden learns by reflecting on this specific experience that decisions can be made impulsively but his morals will always be something that affect decision making.
While Holden benefitsfrom reflecting on his own story, the reader can also benefit from seeing what he went through. I found that I was able to learn some of the same lessons that he did. For example, it was easy to relate to Holden realizing he took some people who used to be in his life for granted when he begins to miss them. While I cannot relate to the specific pain of taking time for granted with people, I can relate to taking opportunities for granted. Reflecting on some of my own personal experiences, there are some things I wish I had seized the opportunity and taken advantage of instead of letting the chance pass me by. However, as Holden was able to conclude, by reminiscing on missed people in his case, you’ll end up missing them. In my case, I end up regretting the decision I made at the time. Leading into another lesson Holden learned, you never know what decision you will make until the time comes to make it. This is an aspect that I see in everyday life, making decisions in the moment is essential. No matter how much I plan for something, it’s impossible to know what I could decide in the moment. Overall, Holden’s lessons could not only be applied to his life after the sanitarium but they could be applied to the reader’s life as well.
Holden’s weekend in New York was something he will hold onto for the rest of his life. Throughout those couple days, he learned more about himself and his morals. However, when he decided to get help at the mental sanitarium, this is where Holden learned the most. Here, he spent ample time reflecting on the series of events that led him there. While in the beginning it most likely seemed like one of the worst things to ever happen to him, the life lessons of adversity, morality and taking things for granted will forever be something Holden will hold onto. When he was in New York, these lessons were not clear to him but once he could step back, away from his chaotic life, Holden isable to see what people were trying to teach him. By reading The Catcher in the Rye, I was able to connect with Holden and what he learns through his travels in New York.
Use of Imagery in the Catcher in the Rye
Symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye
Authors use symbolism in their books to explain to the reader what the character is learning or feeling. Throughout the novel, the reader is presented with many different symbols. These symbols are clearly seen by Holden’s constant repetition of their importance. Like, when Holden kept asking people what happens to the ducks, when he writes about Allie’s glove or his constant visits to the museum. The symbols are so important and their symbolism help us understand how Holden is learning and feeling.
At many points during the novel Holden asks what happens to the ducks, who are normally in the pond at central park, when winter comes and the water freezes. On page 60 Holden asks “You know those ducks in that lagoon right near central park south? That little lake? By any chance do you know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you know by any chance?” (Salinger 60). When he asked all he gets in return is a cold answer from the cab driver when he tries to explain that the ducks stay under the ice like the fish. Despite the answer he gets Holden is never satisfied with the reply. Holden doesn’t realize that the ducks relate to him. Whether he will admit it or not Holden is scared. He’s been kicked out of numerous schools, he gets bad grades and his parents are disappointed with him. Holden spends his days wandering through New York City because he doesn’t know where to go while reflecting his question about the ducks. Maybe if he knew where the ducks went then he could follow their example.
Allie, Holden’s younger brother who died of leukemia years ago was a major symbol throughout the story. When Holden remembers incidents from his past involving Allie, his attitude changes. Such as when he writes the composition about allies baseball glove or when Holden broke his hand after punching all the windows out of his garage when Allie died. “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddamn windows with my fist for the hell of it” (Salinger 39). He feels that Allie was one of the few people who weren’t phony in a world full of phonies. Allie also represents the innocence and childhood that Holden strives to find throughout the book. Holden believes that Allie represents the purity that he looks for in the world. Holden admits that he admires Allie more than he admired Jesus and even prays to Allie at one point rather than Jesus. Allie is Holden’s role model who he judges the rest of the world to. When Allie dies it rocked Holden’s world for the worst.
While wandering through New York City Holden arrives at the museum of natural history. He says that he likes the museum because things never change and they stay in their glass cases like when he said “The best thong, though, in that museum was that everything stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move.” (Salinger 121). Holden wishes he could put parts of his life in glass cases because they won’t ever change. He enjoys going to the museum because he used to go there all the time when he was younger every Saturday. He associated these memories with happiness. Since the glass cases inside the museum don’t ever change, it is the one place Holden goes when he wants everything to be like it was during his childhood. However, Holden decides to stay outside because he’s afraid that there’s a possibility that the museum could have changed. Jane Gallagher changed since his childhood and Holden thought that it could never happen. Jane was a friend of Holden’s and when they would play checkers she would always keep her kings in the back row for some odd reason. Holden thought that if Jane could change then the museum could change with her. He knows that if the museum does not stay the same, it could hurt him, so he makes the conscious decision to not go inside even though his reasons are subconscious.
Catcher in the Rye was a very symbolic book that could be taken many different ways. Important symbols in the book were the ducks at Central Park, his brother Allie, and his constant inner turmoil with the museum. These symbols helped to show how Holden is feeling and how he is changing as a person by repeating the importance of said symbols.
Guiltlessness in the Catcher in the Rye
Symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a unique book. The main character Holden is telling his story from a mental facility about his life and how he got there. Throughout the book, you see Holden’s perspective of innocence. He values it very much and does not want any child to be robbed from their innocence too early. Salinger uses symbolism throughout the book to communicate Holden’s perspective on innocence.
The title “The Catcher in the Rye” is a very big part of symbolism in this book. Holden comes up with an image in his head because he mishears a song based on Robert Burns poem, Coming Thro the Rye. “The words are ‘if a body meet a body comin’ through the rye’ referring to sexual encounters when there are no ties or wedding bells to be heard. Holden interprets the very opposite. He thinks the words are “if a body catch a body comin’ through the rye’” (Jess 2011). Holden imagines seeing himself standing on the edge of a cliff in a rye field. His job is to catch all of the children who are running through the rye field to stop them from adulthood and losing their innocence. “Anyway, 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” (Salinger 173). Holden’s misinterpretation symbolizes his desire to keep the children from losing their innocence.
Another symbol that Salinger uses is the museum. In the book, Holden is very fond of the museum. He likes it because it never changes. “The Museum of Natural History represents childhood in the novel. Like the museum, Holden does not want to change. He wants to be just like the displays found throughout the building” (Krista 2011). Holden show this by saying, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole… Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all” (Salinger 121). The museum not only symbolizes Holden’s desire to not change, but for everyone else in the world to stay the same as well. He does not want children, and especially Phoebe, to change from being innocent kids. He wants them to hold on to their innocence forever. Holden says, “…and I kept thinking about old Pheobe going to that museum on Saturdays the way I used to, I thought how she’d see the same stuff that I went to see, and how she’d be different every time she saw it” (Salinger 122).
The carousel scene in the book is a turning point in the novel. Holden takes his sister Phoebe to Central Park. Holden watches from a park bench when Phoebe decides to ride the carousel. “Then the carousel started, and I watched her go round and round…All the kids tried to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’s fall off the goddam horse, but I didn’t say or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them” (Salinger 211). He realizes that Phoebe and other children are going to face challenges and dangers in their lives and he can’t save them from everything. He understands that children will eventually change and grow up no matter how hard he tries to stop time. “Holden realizes that no matter how hard he tries to stop Phoebe from falling off the carousel and how hard he tries to keep her going around in circles, they eventually will fall and there is nothing you can do about it” (Enotes.com 2010). After Holden realizes this, he feels genuinely happy for the first time in the book. He realizes that time must go on and we must grow up.
Salinger communicates how Holden feels through symbolism very effectively. The title Catcher in the Rye and the museum both symbolize Holden’s views on innocence and how he doesn’t want children or himself to lose it. We also know that Holden’s thoughts change throughout the book solely to the fact of the symbolism of the carousel. He realizes that no matter how hard he tries, time goes on and children grow up. It’s just a part of life just as many things are and you cannot stop time.
Suffering, Alienation and Protagonist’s Depression
Holden Caulfield, the protagonist and narrator of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, constantly points out flaws in other people but is unable to see his own. Be it positive or negative, he loathes change. Through his general hatred of others and his inability to accept the prospect of an ever-changing world of people, Holden alienates himself from society and becomes an outcast. Almost all of his pain and depression stems, however, from one specific event that causes him distress to the point that it could almost be considered post-traumatic stress disorder: the death of his younger brother Allie. When one connects Holden’s constant pain and alienation to the death of his younger brother, the question of how Allie’s death influences Holden’s life arises. Although he never interacts with Holden, Allie still has the strongest influence on his life.
Holden constantly finds flaws in the people around him and complains about them, explaining in depth why each person hides who he or she truly is: “You remember I said before that Ackley was a slob in his personal habits? Well, so was Stradlater, but in a different way. Stradlater was more of a secret slob. He always looked all right, Stradlater, but for instance, you should’ve seen the razor he shaved himself with. It was always rusty as hell and full of lather and hairs and crap. He never cleaned it or anything. He always looked good when he was finished fixing himself up, but he was a secret slob anyway, if you knew him the way I did” (Salinger 27). Simply because Stradlater wants to look polished, Holden believes he is fake and hypocritical. Holden thinks of everyone in this fashion, however, and actively searches for faults in almost every other character. He appears to be unable to find a person who meets his criteria for perfection until he speaks of his younger brother Allie, who is now deceased.
Holden practically worships Allie, considering him a guardian angel: “Every time I’d get to the end of a block I’d make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I’d say to him, “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Please, Allie.” And then when I’d reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I’d thank him” (198). In Holden’s eyes, Allie is the epitome of perfection because he was an innocent young person whose life was cut short before he was able to become anything else. Holden’s vision of Allie will never change because Allie himself cannot change. As unrealistic as it is, that is the way Holden likes people to be. Holden thinks of Allie as a guardian angel and subconsciously uses him as a standard for morality in others. Therefore, Holden can never be satisfied with others and hates the conditions under which he must live his life. To him, nothing is as pure as Allie was, and in this way Allie is the cause of Holden’s constant hatred of seemingly everything.
Holden cannot accept the concept of change. Whenever anything changes, he immediately becomes intensely frustrated with it. This theme comes up notably when he thinks about a girl he has feelings for, Jane. They knew each other when they were younger and more innocent, but Holden finds out that she is dating Stradlater and potentially having sex with him: “I kept thinking about Jane, and about Stradlater having a date with her and all. It made me so nervous I nearly went crazy. I already told you what a sexy bastard Stradlater was” (34). Jane is one of the few people that Holden has been able to look up to and appreciate as a person. He does not want his memory to be stained by a new image of her and Stradlater acting in more adult ways, ways that terrify Holden because he does not like anything to change or grow. He and Jane used to play checkers, and Jane had a certain quirk of keeping her kings in the back row. Before Stradlater leaves for his date with Jane, Holden tells him to “Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row” (34). Holden wants to know if Jane is the same, or if she has changed into a person that he would no longer like and relate to, a thought that devastates him. To most people, change is not as terrible as it is to Holden. Because he lost Allie, he cannot accept when anything in his life is altered even slightly. After Allie dies of leukemia, Holden grasps for something else that can remind him of young innocence and the ease of childhood days. Then, he was not surrounded by phonies. He is terrified that one day he will be forced to change into an adult and live a life independently. Allie’s death leads to an epiphany: everything in life is ephemeral and nothing he values will stay.Although Allie is never seen as a living character, he is still the most important player in Holden’s life because he acts as a form of guardian angel and influential figure.
By basing everything he does and judging everyone else on his memory of Allie, Holden sets the bar unreasonably high. No one can live up to Allie’s standard. In reality, however, Holden is the phoniest of all because he lies to himself about his extreme hatred of everything. Allie’s death renders Holden unable to accept that in order for the world to work as it should, everything must change. Allie not only symbolizes the innocence that Holden has lost, but also serves as a reminder that Holden will one day lose everything that he loves.