THE CATCHER IN THE RYE By, J.D. Salinger The Catcher In The Rye, a novel written by J.D. Salinger, is appropriate reading for today's youth although he wrote this book in 1951.
It is apparent that this title has a lot to do with the contents of the book. Holden Caulfield, the main character, said at one point, " I mean they're all right if they go around saving innocent guys' lives all the time." He is speaking to the reader, and the idea of saving is the 'catcher'. It is the same as in a baseball game. When a ball comes to the outfield, you must do your best to catch it, and without excuses. In addition, the catcher behind the plate can save the game. Holden Caulfield is the catcher with nowhere to go or anything significant to save. The rye is like a field where a baseball team plays, although it grows tall and Holden gets lost inside.
Holden needed to feel like a savior. One day at the museum, after writing his sister Phoebe a note to meet him there, he had an urgent need to be a 'catcher', to save Phoebe and the other kids. There was profane language on the wall and he did not want them reading it. He thought it may corrupt them and said, "It drove me damn near crazy".
The title also relates to the theme, which is essentially that Holden Caulfield, a prep-school dropout, seems only to relate to his younger sister, Phoebe. He is an adolescent who finds himself alone, lost and troubled, in addition to being a compulsive liar. He tries to make sense out of life, but he's so confused that he cannot.
Holden saw other reasons why people do things, not just what is on the surface. Then he thought that they were phonies, especially the lawyers who he said do not really "save the innocent guys". What they are really doing said Holden, is making a lot of money, playing golf, drinking, and playing bridge. He was loner and was annoyed by people who were in cliques at school. He called them phonies too, because it was his way of dealing with the fact that he was not a part of any group. Holden was not a part of a group of friends, a baseball team, or even The Book Of The Month Club. He said, "I don't get hardly anything out of anything. I am in bad shape. I'm in lousy shape".
Phoebe once told Holden about a poem by Robert Burns, "if a body catch a body comin' through the rye". Holden had his own sense of reality and what is appropriate behavior which sometimes found himself lost, like in a field. He had no home life, and his parents never made any time for him. Holden attended three different boarding schools and was expelled from all of them. Finally, he ended up taking a train to New York City and never even told his parents. His relationship with them was so bad, and one night decided to sneak into their house. His only purpose was to see his sister and give her a present, a record, which had already broken in his pocket beforehand. Phoebe said to Holden that his Dad would kill him when he finds out that he has been kicked out of school again. Holden then said, "I don't give a damn if he does". Holden was fed up with having to "bat around the ball" and said that he did not care if he has caught doing anything wrong. Holden wanted to run away from society which is probably why he caused trouble at school, which resulted in his expulsion. He was also a dreamer and constantly had ideas of running away. He spoke to his friend Sally about going to the bank one day, taking out money, getting a guys car and staying in cabin camps until the money runs out. When she said that he is not dealing with reality, he began to hate her in a way and said, "Why the hell not".
He had a sense of denial; he was severely depressed and could not grasp reality. Phoebe, at one point, confronted him in regards to Pencey Prep, where he attended school. Holden got defensive, angry, and frustrated. He almost wanted to be like a deaf-mute so that he would not have to talk or listen to anyone. Holden really had a very poor self-image.
The relationship with Mr. Antolini was interesting because this man was one of the few with whom he rather related to in a positive way. He was an English teacher at the Elkton Hills Prep School where Holden had attended. It had been his second school. Although he was a former teacher, he was still genuinely caring and giving. Mr. Antolini paid much attention to him, unlike his parents. He offered to let Holden stay in his house, although this never did end up happening. This was a good feeling for Holden because he felt that nobody cared for or about him in the world, that is except for his sister, Phoebe. This was such a positive influence for him, and showed him that good relationships were possible.
Although Catcher In The Rye was written in the last generation, I can relate closely to a lot of what Holden Caulfield feels, thinks and sees about other students, adults and himself.