“The Catcher in the Rye”—a novel by Jerome D. Salinger, published in 1951—is one of the most brilliant novels in American literature of the 20th century. It describes the delicate inner world of a 17-year-old teenager, Holden Caulfield, who constantly reflects on the reality that surrounds him. “The Catcher in the Rye” was translated into almost all languages of the world, and has had a continuing impact on the minds of both adults and teenagers.
The novel starts from Holden’s expulsion from the Pencey Prep School for failing exams in almost all of his classes, except English. This is not the first time Holden has got kicked out of a school, but this time he has also quarreled with virtually everyone there. He decides to return to New York, where his parents live, but at some point he realizes that he cannot tell them that he was expelled. Thus, he checks into a hotel, planning to stay there for some time.
Holden finds it difficult both to live in this world, and to live outside of it. Trying to dispel his bad mood, he goes to a night club, but quickly gets bored and tired of it, so he returns to his hotel room. The lift operator, who also works as a souteneur, offers him to buy a prostitute. Holden agrees; when they both enter the room, Holden changes his mind, and the girl calls the souteneur: he punches Holden and extorts 10 dollars from him for his inaction.
Next morning, Holden arranges a date with Sally Hayes, a girl whom he dated in the past. Together they go to the theater to watch the play that Sally wanted to see. And once again, Holden gets disappointed: he finds the play foolish, and the actors, whom everyone admires, seem factitious to him. After the play, he and Sally go to skate, but since they both skate poorly, they decide to take a table instead. Holden tells Sally about the feelings of disappointment that overwhelm him in relation to the reality surrounding him; he keeps listing the aspects of life that he “hates,” and offers Sally to leave the city and settle down somewhere in Massachusetts, but then it turns out that Sally does not share his views. He mocks her, and after quarreling they break up.
After getting drunk with an acquaintance, Holden decides to visit his sister, Phoebe, who, as he says, is the greatest girl in the world. They discuss her school life, and then she asks him, what he is going to do with his life. Holden answers that all that he wants is to be the catcher in the rye. He describes how little children would be playing in the rye field, located on a high cliff; his task would be to catch those of them who gets too close to the edge, thus saving them from falling down. Then, willing to avoid meeting with parents and after borrowing some money prom Phoebe, Holden leaves.
He goes to Mr. Antolini’s, his former literature teacher’s residence. Mr. Antolini and his wife sympathize with Holden, and try to give him some advice, but he is too exhausted to delve into their meaning. He falls asleep; in the middle of the night he suddenly awakens, because he feels that Mr. Antolini is palming his forehead. Holden suspects his teacher in bad intentions, and escapes; later he understands that his suspicions were unreasonable, and becomes even more depressed.
Holden decides to leave to the West. He sends Phoebe a note, in which he asks her to come to the rendezvous, because he wants to give her back the money that he borrowed. Phoebe comes with packed suitcases—she wants to go with her brother, and Holden is extremely touched. For some moment, Phoebe starts to behave just like Holden, claiming that she got tired of everything, and Holden suddenly accepts the more responsible and mature point of view, for some time forgetting about his denial of everything around him. He dissuades Phoebe to leave, and together they go to the zoo; Phoebe rides the carousel, and Holden watches her with admiration.
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. Print.
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The Theme of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Essay
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The Theme of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
In the novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist Holden Caulifield views the world as an evil corrupt place where there is no peace. Holden has a phony phobia that restricts him from becoming a fully matured adult. In Holden's attempted journey in becoming a fully matured adult, he encounters many scenarios involving friendship, personal opinions, and his love of children. His journey is an unpleasant and difficult one with many lessons learned along the way; including the realization that he is powerless to change the world.
Around every corner Holden sees corruption. He looks out on a world, which appears completely immoral and unscrupulous. Holden finds a hard…show more content…
Holden believes that he can change the world and he reveals his feelings on a date with Sally '" Did you ever get fed up? … I mean did you ever get scared that everything was going to go lousy unless you did something…"'(pg 130). Holden proposes to Sally to escape this world with him. It is finally to his younger sister that Holden reveals that he wants to prevent children from growing up. He blames the world's corruption on adults and believes that when he stops the children from growing up he will preserve their innocence and save the world.
Holden's phony addiction gets him into trouble at school. Holden looks for the flaws in everyone and tries to eliminate that person he sees as a threat, such as when Holden decides to face off against the phony Stradlater after Stradlater's date with Jane. Holden also thinks every teacher is a phony who pretends to be helpful to students. If Holden has trouble in school he does not seek help from his peers because he believes that they are phonies. Hence this point is tied into one of the reasons he is kicked out of Pencey, failing four out of five courses. Holden's avoidance of things phony is very strong and he has a one-track mind. It is either his way or the highway, this is another example of how Holden's phony problem hinders his chance at full maturity. Holden is so scared