Allie-catcher In The Rye

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade January 2002

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How Allie Helps Holden be the Catcher The book Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, was a novel filled with many symbols and motifs. The many images that were put into the plot helped the reader understand the book in its entirety and helped convey the numerous views in the world of that time. Two of the most important motifs that were included in the book were: "the fall ", and Holden's brother Allie. I believed that the motif of Allie played a large part in the idea of "the fall", but it didn't receive as much attention as it deserved.

Allie was Holden's little brother who was two years younger than Holden. On July 18, 1946, he died in Maine of leukemia. The thing that made him an interesting character was his left handed baseball mitt. He had taken the time to write poems over every inch of the glove in green ink.

He decided to do this so that he always had something to read when he was playing in the field.

When Allie died, Holden went into the garage and shattered all the windows in the building with his right hand. He then proceeded to hit the car windows but they would not break. He tried numerous times until he could not take the pain any longer.

He still hasn't been able to make a fist or have any grip strength in his injured hand. One of the interesting things that came up is that he injured his right hand, and Allie's glove was a lefty, meaning that it would fit onto Holden's injured right hand. This shows that in a sense, Allie may be gone from this earth, but he his still there to help Holden in ways that Holden may not see at the time.

Allie has played a large part in Holden's life. He was one of Holden's first experiences with death. He may have never had to deal with the loss of a loved one before. Holden had to miss the funeral for Allie due to the injuries in his hand; he was in the hospital having his wounds attended to. This may have caused him to not let go of the experience properly. This situation would not help him become what his dream shows him later in his life.

Holden was sleeping one night when he had a visualization. He was in the middle of a meadow of rye, watching children run around innocently. He then saw a child run over a cliff. He reached over and caught the youthful girl. This dream has an uncanny resemblance to the title of the book. He is catching children in the rye, being a catcher in the rye. How can he catch people with a broken hand, He certainly couldn't hold the weight of a child. Allie's ball glove may represent his experiences with Allie dying. His glove would cover his broken hand and help him catch a falling child.

What does the "fall mean"? Why does he keep talking about it? I believe that he thinks that "the fall" means that you lose your innocence or start to distinguish the world the way it actually is. He has decided he wants to stop children from starting "the fall". He doesn't know how right away but he finds a way. Could his name have any connection to holding children in from "the fall"? Holden, Hold-in? Caulfield, his last name, is awfully close to "Claw field".

If Holden wants to help save people from "the fall", he needs to comprehend and be able to explain death. After Holden busted up his right hand, everything went downward. He starred approaching the overhang, the cliff, to the fall. Allie's ball glove represents Allie helping Holden understand death and how it can affect people and the way they think of the world.

Holden tries to keep the kids at Phoebe's school from the commencement of the fall. He starts as small as erasing a simple "F*#@ you" off of a wall. He felt very good about it, until he walked around a corner. He saw another sign on the wall with the same phrase. He then realized he can't save the whole world from those words and others like it.

At one point in the story, Holden starts to believe that Allie keeps him from vanishing. He would come to an intersection on the end of a city block and start muttering under his breath, "Allie, please don't let me disappear", and continue repeating it until he reached the end of the block. When he reached the end of the block he proceeded to be grateful to him. This seems to represent Allie trying to help Holden from starting to "the fall". This, as well, seems to be a way for Holden to dismiss his true feelings for Allie.

Holden is looking for help from Allie for things he knows he can't do, fix, or stop. He knows he can't stop himself from vanishing (which I believe represents "don't let me start the fall of innocence"), that he can't fix his hand, and Allie can help Holden with both of these things. Allie will help Holden deal with death, and since Allies ball glove was a left handers mitt, it too will fit onto Holden's right, injured hand.

Allie wasn't only Holden's kid brother who died of leukemia, he was a major influence on Holden's life and how he interacted with others. If Allie would not have died, Holden may not have been able to become as good of a catcher as he wanted. He had to learn many things before he could help people and Allie helped him with these things. This shows how Allie helped Holden to be The Catcher in the Rye.