Catcher In The Rye

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J. D. Salinger eminently uses his mid 20th-century writing to create characters who foil teens in the modern day. The act of growing up scares a number of teens, as they are aware their innocence will soon flee them as it once shielded them. The perspective of the world changes from child to adult, which encourages kids to try to save their own purity. Holden Caulfield, a character who struggles with his ability to traverse from an innocent child into a mature adult in The Catcher in the Rye, is created to show the desire many have to try and prevent the loss of their own innocence. This is shown through Holden’s rebellion against the school, his desire to be the “catcher in the rye,” and his distressed response to the graphic graffiti written…show more content…
The “catcher in the rye” that Holden envisions saves the youth of the world from falling off the cliff that holds the rye field on top. When Holden arrives back in New York, he sneaks into his apartment, while only his younger sister, Phoebe, is home. Here he starts to smoke a cigarette and tell Phoebe his life ambitions. Phoebe, wondering what it is he desires, leads him to say, “Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around...I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff...I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all” (Salinger 93). When analyzed deeper, it is evident being the catcher is nothing but a metaphor, and Holden truthfully just wishes to save kids from losing their innocence like he wishes to save his own. Holden wishes to catch those who do not see reality at the bottom of the cliff. Phoebe realizes Holden is referring to a poem he overheard and misinterpreted that is written by Robert Burns. While Holden believes he heard “Gin a body catch a body comin’ thro the rye,” the real line is "Gin a body meet a body comin’ thro the rye” (Salinger 93). While Holden hears one thing, the real poem actually refers to a sexual encounter that he does not catch on to because of his childlike innocence. It is a sexual encounter between two people who love one another, but this is not what Holden wishes to hear. For Holden to hear about a sexual encounter is uncomforting, especially…show more content…
When visiting Phoebe’s elementary school, he sits down only to see graphic words written all across the walls. Distressed by this writing, Holden thinks, “...how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant,...maybe even worry about it for a couple of days” (Salinger 108). Holden starts to wonder whether or not it is possible to save these kids from losing their innocence when they are surrounded by an environment with many profane words early in their lifetime. Mirela stresses this point in asserting, “The title...indicates Holden’s great desire...to save children from any loss of innocence” (Mirela 99). When realizing the kids are affected at such a young age, Holden soon starts to lose his mind. He mentions, “I kept picturing myself catching him [graffiti writer] at it,...how I'd smash his head on the stone steps till he was...goddam dead and bloody...I wouldn't have the guts to do it” (Salinger 108). While this is not Holden’s first paroxysm, Holden still shows the purity of his mind by not being able to let something as little as this obscure graffiti. While the writing is unpleasant to whoever reads it, many kids would never take it as seriously as Holden. To end his thought, Holden says he would never have the guts to do it, which is also true due to Holden still grasping onto childlike
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