The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye

In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace. This perception of the world is also shared by many individuals of today’s society. In their mental scope, a gun is needed to change a person’s views. Holden also possesses this view, but is not drawn in to this extreme. Gradually he comes to the realization that he is powerless to change this corruption.

It takes most of the book before Holden begins to realize that he is helpless to stop this corruption. Finally, he realizes that not only is there nothing that he can do, but there is nowhere he can go to hide from it. Holden takes awhile to comprehend these concepts. One good example is when Holden is delivering the note to his sister. He encounters a "*censored*-you" written on the wall. Holden careful rubs this off with his hand so as to protect the innocent children from reading it. Later on he finds "*censored*-you" scratched into the surface with a knife. He discovers that he can't efface this one. Even in the timeless peace of the Egyptian tomb room at the museum there is an un-erasable "*censored*-you." This incident is the beginning of Holden's realization that his dreams are infeasible. This example relates to society today. In the high school massacre, where two kids took matters in their own hands by using semiautomatic weapons, thinking that they can change corruption by using force. This narrow stubbornness led to their death. They did not eliminate corruption and discrimination, but elevated the intensity in which it was based. Holden did not go to this extreme, but he realized that there is nothing that can be done to reverse this so called corruption of the world. He sees that trying to stop evil and corruption only makes it worse, it has to be played out until it collapses on itself.

“All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall 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.

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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 unrealistic. 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 therefore losing their innocence. This example also relates to the high school massacre. Most of the students at the school all reached and grabbed the gold rings, but the two gunmen fell of their horses. This symbolizes the jealousy that was possessed by the two individuals. They wanted to be like the rest of the children and grab the corruption, but they fell off. This fall made them outsiders, so they had to find another route to the gold rings of the carousel. This route led them to a dead end path of evil.

Society today is filled with evil and wrongdoing. No matter what is done to stop it, it will still exist and intensify. Holden’s attitude reflects on today’s issues. He realized that nothing can be done to put out the flame of corruption. Intervening with it is like adding lighter fluid. The two gunmen at the high school were not as fortunate as Holden. They thought that it can be stopped, but it only engulfed them and their surroundings. This led to a pattern of school massacres around the country. Shortly after this point Holden has his nervous breakdown. His breakdown is due to this depressing realization that the world is corrupt and filled with evil. He knows now with a sickening certainty that he is powerless to stop both evil and maturation. As a matter of fact, it is "bad" to do so.
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