Catcher In The Rye
A novel, which has gained literary recognition worldwide, scrutiny to the point
of censorship and has established a following among adolescents, The Catcher in
the Rye is in its entirety a unique connotation of the preservation of innocence
and the pursuit of compassion. With certain elegance the writer J.D. Salinger,
substantiates the growth and perils, which lie between childhood and adulthood.

Embellishing the differentiation between innocence and squalor in the grasps of
society. The bridge that lies between these contrasting themes are personified
through the novel’s protagonist, Holden Caul-field and his visualization of a
cliff, which depicts a dividing point between the evident beginning and end. The
connection, which binds this gap in reality, was made clear through a new found
compassion, consummating Holden’s place in society through the realization of
his surroundings from which he successfully crosses over. Focusing on the
rebellious and confused actuality of adolescents stuck between the innocence of
childhood and the corruptness of the adult world, this novel strikes a cord,
which most adolescents can relate. The essence of the story The Catcher in the

Rye follows the forty-eight hour escapade of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield,
told through first person narration. After his expulsion from Pency, a
fashionable prep school, the lat-est in a long line of expulsions, Holden has a
few confrontations with his fellow students and leaves shortly after to return
to his hometown, New York City. In the heart of New York City, Holden spends the
following two days hiding out to rest before confronting his parents with the
news. During his adventures in the city he tries to renew some old
acquaintances, find his significance in the adult world, and come to grips with
the head-aches he has been having lately. Eventually, Holden sneaks home to
visit his sister Phoebe, because alone on the streets he feels as if he has no
where else to turn. Children are the only people with whom Holden can
communicate with throughout the novel, not because they can help him with his
growing pains but because they remind him of a simpler time (his inno-cence),
which he wishes he could return. The trials of the adult world wear down

Holden’s vision of a place in society, portraying innocence as a form of
retreat from a confusing world. On the subject of innocence and symbolism there
of, which is repre-sented through Holden’s thoughts and actions, S.N. Behrman
writes: "Holden’s difficulties affect his nervous system but never his
vision. It is the vision of an innocent. To the lifeline of this vision he
clings invinci-bly, as he does to a phonograph record he buys for Phoebe (till
it breaks) and a red hunting cap that is dear to him and that he finally gives
to Phoebe, and to Allie’s baseball glove." Understanding Holden’s notion
of innocence and the role it plays throughout the novel helps to put in tune the
underlying message found in Holden’s description of the catcher in the rye.

"I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of
rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around--nobody big, I
mean- except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have
to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if
they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out
from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the
catcher in the rye and all." (Pg. 173) The princi-ple of the catcher in the
rye is a means for Holden to devote his life to the protection of innocence. The
significance of the catcher image lies in three areas of thought as implied by

B. Ramachandra Rao: "First of all, it is a savior image, and shows us the
extent of Holden’s re-ligious idealism. Secondly, it crystallizes for us

Holden’s concept of good and evil; childhood is good, the only pure good, but
it is surrounded by perils, the cliff of adolescence over which the children
will plunge in the evil of adulthood unless stopped. But finally, the image is
based on a mis-understanding. The Burns poem goes ‘If a body meet a body’
not ‘if a body catch a body,’ and the fact that Phoebe is aware of this and

Holden is not, plus the manner in which these two words (‘catch’ and
‘meet’) are re-examined and re-interpreted by Holden at the end of the
novel, shows us in a powerful and deeply suggestive way the center of Holden’s
diffi-culty." Holden’s