The Catcher In The Rye Analysis

Katherine Dourian
D Period English

Salinger suggests that feelings of entrapment accompany the transition to adulthood, and that growing mature means letting go of childish self-perceptions.

Holden fantasizes about preserving the innocence of the youth as the catcher in the rye, wherein he can be both child and adult. “The cars zoomed by, brakes screeched all over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking next to the curb and singing ‘if a body catch a body coming through the rye’ It made me feel better. It made me feel not so depressed anymore.” (Chapter 16). Time after time, Holden mentions how “depressed” he feels, but this moment sheds light on this internal conflict in interesting ways. Because the innocent and joyful boy stands in stark contrast to the cars and dismissive parents, we realize that there is, indeed, something that brings Holden happiness. He sees himself in the young, and it reminds him of simpler times. That he realizes that naivety of the young boy and appreciates it also gives the reader a sense that he is mature, but his vision of what he wants to be when he is older complicates the matter. “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all…what I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff…I know it’s crazy.” (Chapter 22). As the biggest one in the field, Holden recognizes that he is not like the other children: he has already fallen from the cliff. Equating adolescence to falling from a cliff, Holden in his fantasy shows that he fears adulthood because it brings uncertainty and pain. Holden, we witness is trapped in transition between the joys of childhood and the expectations of adulthoo...

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...ebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed.” (Page 104). Throughout the text, Holden is balanced between life and death contemplating suicide as a means to escape the pain of experience. After Holden experiences humiliation and physical pain at the hands of Maurice, he directly expresses the desire to commit suicide. This interplay between physical and emotional pain coincides with a void of spirituality he expresses during an anecdote on the phoniness of Jesus’s apostles, where we learn that Holden sees himself as atheist and aligns himself with Judes, the betrayer of Christ. The congruence of these three pains shows that Holden seeks forgiveness for his guilt at surviving his brother. Consequently, holden is unable to find meaning in life except through pain, and this keeps him trapped preventing from moving beyond Allie’s death to focus on crafting himself as a man.

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