Theme Of Death In Catcher In The Rye

1120 Words5 Pages
The motif of death in The Catcher in the Rye The most prominent theme in The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is death and the loss of innocence. Death is the vehicle that drives the story, offering an explanation to Holden’s views and punctuating his feelings towards the world. This essay will explore the various instances where the motif of death occurs and possible explanations of these instances. For the purpose of this essay, “motif” is defined as “something (such as an important idea or subject) that is repeated” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). The first instance where death is prominent is in Chapter 3 where Holden discusses Ossenburger, a wealthy Pencey alumni who gave the school money. Ossenburger made his fortune through a chain of bargain funeral parlors. Holden remarks that Ossenburger “probably just shoves them in a sack and dumps them in the river.” (3.17). This scene is exceptionally important, as it sets the entire tone for how Holden perceives adults and their attitude towards death, as something insignificant that doesn’t deserve closer inspection. Holden feels that death is being cheapened by who he deems to be the “phonies”. Another allusion to death is Holden’s frequent thoughts about the ducks in central park. He wants to know what happens to them during winter, asking the cab drivers in chapters 9 and 12. When Holden locates the lagoon and realizes that the ducks aren’t there, he starts thinking about suicide. By the end of the novel the ducks serve
Open Document