A Moment of Revelation
Uploaded by Admin on Nov 09, 2000
In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield’s innocence is taken away through a twisted chain of events. The novel opens up with Holden depresses after fluking out of Penecy, the suicide of a classmate, and the death of his brother, Allie. Because if these tragic events, Holden tries to preserve his innocence and the purity of the children around him. Holden wants to “catch” all of the naïve children who are falling off the cliff into adulthood. As a result of Holden coming across his sister Phoebe and the “fuck you” on the wall of the school, Holden’s dreams of becoming the catcher in the rye disappear. He finally realizes that all children must fall into adulthood, just as he has.
While walking through the bust streets of New York, Holden notices a lighthearted little boy who is walking and humming “if a body catch a body coming through the rye” (43). Holden finds it humorous that the child can hum so nonchalantly as the cars on the bust street honk at him. Despite the fast-moving cars, which represent the average “phonies” in the world, the child pays no attention to them. When Holden sees that the little boy will not allow himself to be pulled into the average crowd of people, he realizes that not everyone wishes to fall from their simple childhood into adulthood.
From Holden’s encounter with this little boy, he wants to become the “catcher in the rye.” He says to Phoebe:
I kept picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I am 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 they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. (173)
By saying that he wants to catch all the children that are running and not looking where they’re going, Holden is saying that he wants to save all the little children from the fake behavior of the adults in the world. He wants to prevent the children from making the mistake of becoming phony. Holden’s outlook, of wanting to save the children from adulthood, begins to change after he sees the “fuck you” on...