The Catcher In The Rye

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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In "The Catcher in the Rye" the main character, Holden, is an anxious teenager except, unlike most teenagers, he isn't urging to cross that line into adulthood. He doesn't want to leave that stretch of time where one only worried about rolling in the grass. He perceives adults as superficial hypnotists who are tainted unlike the children he admires. Throughout the novel he journeys towards the growth into maturity, being the ability to cope and prevail. With this, the theme expressed was to not run away come what may.

Holden feels as if he is excluded and wronged by the environment around him. He senses he is traveling on a road that he shouldn't to be on, a road where he doesn't belong. Estrangement shields him from being hurt. His hunting hat, one of his shields, gave him a sense of security. It gave him confidence like his cynicism.

This was also a brick in the wall he built to shield himself. Ironically his estrangement was the basis for the majority of the pain he felt. Through all this isolation, he dreadfully longs for human contact and love. To fill this void, he goes to Sally Hayes. He knows she will not plug the hole, but he settles for her because he is too scared to contact the person he really wants, Jane Gallagher.

Like not admitting to the fear of calling Jane Gallagher, Holden doesn't admit another fear, adulthood. To endure this, he shapes adulthood to be a deadly path. Being the protagonist he is Holden must save all the pure, innocent children from this. Thus he imagines himself as "the catcher in the rye". He would save the children who were playing in the rye from jumping off the cliff, adulthood. What may not be realized is by being "the catcher in the rye" he is essentially the adult in the picture. If he keeps on catching them, they must keep on falling, and the inevitable will not be overcome. They will become "phony".

While Holden is busy calling everyone else "phony", he fails to realize his own "phoniness". His fraudulence is commonly futile and malicious. He himself explains that he is a compulsive liar with lying being one of the things he hates about "phonies". Holden makes it seem that he and the children are the only ones that are not "phonies", but we see that is not true.

When Holden goes to visit Phoebe we see his true maturity. He gives her his hunting hat, his protection. With doing this he puts her first. Another sighting was at the carrousel. He said, "I was sort of afraid she'd fly off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring you have to let them do it, and not say anything to them." He was letting her learn from her own mistakes whereupon one is a step toward the road of adulthood.

Furthermore, there are some things that just cannot be fought forever because what is meant to be will be. One should embrace change and not run in the opposite direction of it. Most of all, one should hack it through and prevail on top.