Minor Characters In Catcher In The Rye

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In the novel, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951. The novel revolves around a teenage boy, Holden Caulfield, who believes his purpose is to be the catcher in the rye-to save children from the loss of innocence. “The crisis of existence that Holden Caulfield faces... trying to understand the sometimes terrifying transition from childhood to maturity”(Lewis). Holden’s dilemma is that he wants to become an adult without renouncing his innocence in his transition. This introduces his inner turmoil of maturing into adulthood. J.D. Salinger uses minor characters in The Catcher in the Rye as tools to shape the reader’s attitude and understanding of Holden. They show that Holden is a complex character who is severely depressed…show more content…
Jane helps illustrate Holden’s desire to save the innocence found in childhood. As Holden describes Jane and their summer together, he describes how innocent and kind she was. She is one of the people whose innocence Holden tries to preserve throughout the novel. During the summer they spent together, she became one of the girls whom he actually respected. His image of Jane was very positive and pure/innocent. When Stradlater gets back to their dormitory late, Holden gets into an argument with him. Holden believes Stradlater gave Jane “the time” in Ed Banky’s car and he cannot deal with the idea of Stradlater taking Jane’s innocence (Salinger 43). Holden sees it as his job to protect and maintain Jane’s innocence. The mere thought of Stradlater being intimate with her worries him not out of jealousy, but because he wants her to remain innocent. He is so distraught that, he starts a fist fight that he knows he will lose as an attempt to recuperate his image of Jane’s innocence. Salinger uses Jane’s influence on Holden to illustrate Holden’s fear of maturing into adulthood. Holden refuses to later see her because he believes he failed to protect her innocence. This is his way of maintaining Jane’s innocence in his mind; it is “an expression of his urgency” to save “the innocence of childhood from the corruption of an adult world”(Lewis). Although Holden wants to reconnect with her, he doesn't, which shows his fear of transitioning to…show more content…
Holden’s close relationship with his sister reveals more about him than his interactions with any other character. She represents Holden’s desire to protect the innocence in people, but like the nuns, she helps him see that his hope to preserve his and everyone’s childhood is futile. He tries to protect Phoebe’s innocence by cleaning up the swear words he finds at her school. He wants to prevent her from exposure to bad things. This emphasises his fear of people losing their innocence. During a conversation, she sees that Holden is his own worst enemy and calls him out on it, "You don't like anything that's happening" (Salinger 169). Holden states that when she said that it made him more depressed. This is because Phoebe’s bluntness has a huge impact and gets through to him unlike every other adult that has tried to set Holden straight. When Holden tells Phoebe about his desire to be the Catcher in the Rye, she immediately tells him he misheard the song, “It’s ‘If a body meets a body coming through the rye’” (Salinger 173). This shows that Holden is alone in his attempt to save innocence. Phoebe’s understanding that this is an impossible dream, helps Holden to slowly see that his aspirations are futile.“Holden has begun to lose his delusional obsession to be a catcher in the rye” (Vanderbilt 301). Holden finally accepts that everyone grows up when Phoebe rides the carousel.
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