Catcher in the Rye Essay
“I keep picturing all these kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s big but me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff -What do I have to do, I have to catch them. I mean their running, and they don’t look where their going, so I must come out of somewhere and catch them.”(Salinger,173)
J.D. Salinger, in his timeless classic, The Catcher in the Rye, a novel depicting the complications of life as an adolescent, uses reality verses allusion, phoniness in society, and the loss of innocence as themes in his novel, to present the true inner character of Holden Caufield. Beginning to learn the truths of society and growing up, sixteen year old, Holden has a hard time adjusting to maturity. After the death of his younger brother Allie, his inability to remain in one school, and his ongoing dislike of many people and their morals, Holden has been driven to depression in which he dispenses to a psycoanaylgist throughout the novel.
Through his novel, Salinger incorporated the theme reality verses allusion, to demonstrate how the mind of some adolescents are so unwilling to face the truths of society. As stated above, Holden wishes to accomplish an futile task, save children from growing up, and protect them from the corruption of adulthood. The following presents an example of Holden’s inability to grasp the differences between reality and allusion. “Somebody written ‘Fuck You’ on the wall. It drove me damn dear crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other kids would see it, and then how they’d wonder what the hell it mean, and finally some dirty kid would tell them- all cockeyed, so I rubbed it out.”(Salinger,201) Presented here, an another example on how Holden once again attempts to accomplish the impossible, save children from the words and instances that they are going to transpire no matter how hard someone desires to hide it. Holden allows himself to live in a state of unrealistic thoughts, with the idea that change will forever be deleterious. Yet Holden seems frightened to admit to himself that change and development are a necessary part of reality. The only way one would be able to avoid change would be to die young, avoiding maturity, and maintaining innocence. Holden’s dislike towards change attracts his interest to the museum, because a museum continues to be never changing, the displays are forever set in stone, and preserved. Lastly, Holden presents his fear of facing reality though avoiding the truth. After failing out of Pencey, he decided to hide out in New York City, until his parents reached notice of his being kicked out of yet another school, because of his fear to face problems. Yet in reality the only way Holden could fix the problems he had would be to face them, not avoid them. He simply ran away from any instance to improve his problems, or to speak the truth, therefore; accomplishing nothing but more fear. His inability to grasp the differences between reality and allusion, lead Holden into his state of mental depression, because he makes it possible for himself to expect only the best, everything perfect, and unchanged, which is truly preposterous.
“Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men.”(Salinger,2) Throughout the novel, Catcher in the Rye, Holden expresses his distaste for the majority of society. Specifically, he claims most people act in a superficial manner, and observes the masses to be phony and unthoughtful in nature. Yet he himself acts phony, attempting to portray himself as someone else, someone better, and older, at points. Such an example would be when he speaks with Ernie Morrow’s mother. In this instance, he characterizes himself as someone he hates. Another depiction of phoniness would be Stradlater, Holden’s roommate at Pencey. Stradlater presents the perfect phony attitude that Holden has such distaste towards. His main worry seems to be that he must illustrate himself as the perfect jock; built, clean-cut, and gorgeous, and that bothered Holden to no end, because Stradlater never presented his true character, he constituted the word fake. Movie actors are yet another example of the phony attitude Holden so dearly dislikes. In his mind, actors always exemplify someone they aren’t. In his supposition, they just play some part they are requested for money, not a part that resembles their thoughts or personality. In public, movies stars also carry out that fake attitude, where they act as though they are better than everyone else. Lastly Holden dislikes actors and movies because their phoniness demoralizes children, and allows them to explore with the mature corrupted world. Society’s phoniness causes the main reason for Holden’s insecurity and isolation for the outer world. He becomes so fearful that he too will become part of the fraudulent society similar to everyone surrounding him.
Holden has one concern throughout the novel, to protect the innocent, to keep children away from maturity, and the corrupted society. He wanted to be what he called “a catcher in the rye.”and stand on a cliff assuring that children wouldn’t jump off to adulthood. His brother Allie presents a great depiction of his admiration of youth and innocence. Holden idealizes Allie, mainly because he was never able to see him reach maturity. He died before he could lose his innocence, therefore leading Holden to believe that he exemplified perfection. Allie’s baseball glove, and the “Little Shirley Beans” record for Phoebe, illustrate Holden’s challenge to preserve the innocence in his family. Another example of his fear of loss of innocence is when Holden had the opportunity to once again see Jane Gallagher. He had been great friends with her when he they were younger, but now remained afraid to face her realizing that she would have changed. She no longer could be the innocent girl he had loved, and considering her courtship with someone such as Stradlater, she had grown tremendously. No matter how much he yearned to see her or talk to her, he had too much fear to face the fact that she too no longer appeared to be a child, that she was now mature, and experienced. Lastly, the young boy on the street whistling that Holden referred to as “swell ” exemplifies Holden’s love of youth. The young boy symbolized independence, and nonchalance; untouched by the outer world, and unaware of the problems of society, therefore; attracting the attention of Holden. Holden had envied the pureness of the young boy, proud to see that he had not yet lost his most admirable quality, his simplicity. Children were the only people Holden seemed to be able to successfully communicate with, mainly because he did not worry that they would be phony, because they were too young to realize how to act fraudulent. Also, he did not have to be jealous of them, because he had no competition with them. Yet his idea of wishing to preserve innocence noted his life in the fantasy world. Maturity symbolizes a major part of life, one in which everyone must endure. As some may say “growing up is hard to do” yet it remains physically impossible to avoid it. Maturity is a natural part of life, and Holden has to learn to come to terms with that idea..
In his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, presents the themes of phoniness in society, reality versus allusion, and loss of innocence, to depict the thoughts and problems of adolescent life, in such a sixteen year old as Holden Caufield. Life as a teen, presents both challenging and questionable events, and in the mid stage of his adolescent life, Holden begins to comes to terms with the truths of society. After undergoing the harsh realities of maturity, he begins to believe that he must save the rest of the young children in society from facing such problems, therefore wishing to restore their innocence. His absurd thoughts of society and the corruptness, in the end led him to his necessary evaluation with a psycoanaylgist. The adolescent days are suppose to be the best of your life, and Holden must come to terms that not everything in world will be fit perfectly the way he wants. He must just learn to go with the flow, and enjoy life while he can. He cannot always be “Blue as Hell.”