Essay about Evil and Corruption in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Essay about Evil and Corruption in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Evil and Corruption in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger



In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace. His view of the world does not change much through the novel. However as the novel continues, Holden gradually comes to the realization that he is powerless to change this.
In the book Holden succeeds in making us think that the world is crazy. Shortly after Holden leaves Pencey Prep, he checks in to the Edmont Hotel in Manhattan which was "full of perverts and morons. There were screwballs all over the place." His situation only worsens from this point on as the more he looks around this world, the more depressing life seems.
Around every corner Holden sees evil. He looks out on a world which appears immoral and corrupt. Holden's beliefs on the possibility that not everyone has eveil intentions change only once in the book. The scene is that with Mr. Antolini. After Mr. Antolini patted Holden on the head while he was sleeping, Holden jumped up and ran out thinking that Mr. Antolini was a pervert as well. This is the only time during the novel where Holden thinks twice about considering someone as a pervert.
After reviewing Mr. Antolini, Holden finally decides that maybe he wasn't making a "flitty" pass at him. Maybe he just like patting guys heads as they sleep. This is really the only time in the novel where Holden actually considers a positive side. As Holden himself says, "It's not too bad when the sun's out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out."
The one idea that does change during the novel is Holden's belief that he can change the world. On his date with Sally, Holden reveals his feelings. "Did you ever g...


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..., you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them." In the above passage from the novel, Holden hits the final breakdown. Being "the catcher" becomes obviously foolish. The gold rings are ironically not gold, but really brass-plated iron. The gold rings are symbols of the corrupted world which always "wears" a shiny surface to hide its evil. It is at this point that Holden sees that he can not stop children from growing up and losing their innocence. They will fall if they fall, there is nothing that can be done.
Shortly after this point Holden has his nervous breakdown. His breakdown is due to this realization that the world is incorrupt and filled with evil. He knows now with a certainty that he is powerless to stop both evil and growth.

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