Holden Caulfield | All my relationships!
Holden Caulfield Character Analysis 1 year-old narrator and protagonist of the .. pretty, mature beyond her years, sane, and his most trusted link to family. All things considered, the relationship between Holden and Phoebe seems. I very much like the relationship between Holden and Phoebe. . Holden had trusted Mr. Antolini to have the same views as Holden to an extent (note . Holden Caulfield was the most negative, unlikeable, and unmotivated. Phoebe Caulfield - Before we meet Phoebe, Holden's side of the story is all we've been given. He we do, we trust her judgments about him. . continues searching for new relationships, always undoing himself only at the last moment.
I spent that week in a tower studio with a view of the Hudson just outside Catskill, NY. I was the artist in residence during the low season, and so I was almost the only person there.
The writing challenge that I had given to myself was this: I wanted to write an entire novel in less than a week. This was sheer masochism. But it felt like something that I could achieve. The tower had spare but comfortable amenities. I had a space heater that I would fire up whenever the temperature fell to 55 or lower; but if I ran the heater warmer than 68 degrees, the black hornets hiding in the knotholes of the tower would rouse from their sleep.
Otherwise, I was alone with the latest idea that I had for a novel. The second day of the writing also happened to be my thirty-seventh birthday. Near dusk I sat back and stared out the window at the setting sun to the west.
I had written 20, words in the last two days, and I needed to write 35, more in the next two-and-a-half to fulfill my goal. I was absolutely exhausted. But I also had the sense that this was the best possible thing I could be doing with myself at that moment. This habit of writing offered me a place where I could go to contemplate the sublunar landscape of the heart — without having to stay in that dark place forever. I finished the draft before I left the tower. I went home and edited it for a few months.
Now it is a book that I am very proud of. Whether that book sold is not the point. The point is that writing it was a breakthrough.
Holden Caulfield and the Culture of Sexual Assault
I saw what writing did for me, and after that, I had no more illusions about whether I was or was not a writer. The prolific twentieth-century novelist Georges Simenon published more than novels during his career, and he wrote many of them in just 11 days. I am at the end of a sustained writing fugue that has had me write an essay a month for 24 straight months. Each challenge is useful, irrespective of what it creates. There is relief in burning on just the pure oxygen of ideas.
Whenever I wonder why I keep finding ridiculous challenges, I think about that tower upstate. In memory, I can still inhabit the space of the moment. I can still feel how I am tired — my wrists ache and my back hurts from bending over the desk, which is really just a paint-spotted board thrown over some brackets attached to the window.
I miss my family. I miss the rest of the world. But I am headed somewhere. Since the book is written in the first person, we see all people and events through Holden's eyes. He tells his story from the vantage point of the year-old Caulfield, who is still in a California hospital at the outset of the book.
He begins with a statement of anger that includes the reader in its sarcasm: I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy.
On this day, he says goodbye to his history teacher, Mr. Spencer, who is home with the grippe. He views the sick man with both sympathy and disgust and escapes hastily after the teacher begins to lecture him about flunking out of three prep schools. The novel continues with equally flawed encounters with two fellow students, Bob Ackley and his playboy roommate, Ward Stradlater.
Holden decides to leave Pencey that very night. He packs his belongings, heads to the railroad station and grabs a train to New York City. There he embarks on a harrowing weekend staying at hotels, frequenting bars, and trying desperately to communicate with everyone he meets—the mother of a classmate to whom he lies about his identityhangers-out in bars, taxi drivers, a prostitute and her pimp, and two nuns in a restaurant.
His two most memorable encounters are with his old friend, the pseudo-sophisticated Sally Hayes, and a former schoolmate, Carl Luce. Both take place on Sunday. Late Sunday night—thoroughly chilled from sitting in Central Park and having used up most of his money and everyone else's patience—Holden sneaks into his family's apartment. He wakes up his engaging ten-year-old sister, Phoebe. Phoebe is the only human being with whom Holden can communicate except for the memory of Allie, for whom he continually grieves.
Phoebe represents the innocence and honesty of childhood, which is all Holden truly respects—a viewpoint shared in part by Salinger himself.
In contrast, Holden sees his older brother, D. Phoebe is direct and blunt. When she learns that Holden has been expelled from yet another private school, her instant comment is, "Daddy'll kill you. Later, Phoebe tells him: You don't like a million things. When he tries to think of something he likes, he finally comes down to nothing but Allie and Phoebe. He tells Phoebe that he's going to hitchhike to Colorado and start a new life there.
Still avoiding his parents, he arranges to spend the rest of Sunday night with a former favorite English teacher, Mr.
Antolini, and his somewhat frowsy wife.
- Holden Caulfield Character Analysis
During the night, he awakes to find Antolini stroking his hair. He immediately panics, deciding that Antolini is just another pervert in a world full of twisted people, and flees the Antolini apartment.
On Monday, he goes to Phoebe's school to leave a message for her to meet him at the Museum of Natural History. He wants to say goodbye. When Phoebe shows up, she is dragging a huge suitcase along the sidewalk. She intends to go with him. This is not in his plan at all. Instead, he takes her to the Central Park Zoo. While watching her ride on the merry-go-round, he worries that she'll fall off while trying to catch the gold ring.
If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them," muses Caulfield. This, in a way, is the end of a dream he has told Phoebe: Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around—nobody big, I mean—except me.
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. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy,but that's the only thing I'd really like to be.
Or will he continue to run away toward his dream of saving the world? We leave Holden where we found him—or he found us—in the California hospital. When he is well, his brother D.
Holden Caulfield is both tragic and funny, innocent and obscene, loving and cruel, clear-sighted yet viewing the world from a warped perspective, an expert in identifying phonies and the greatest phony himself.
Of course, how you see Holden depends upon your own point of view. For many young readers of the book, especially in the s and '60s, Holden still represented the true reality—the innocent abroad in a corrupt world. For older readers, he represents the angst of adolescence in its nightmarish extreme. For the ultraconservative, he still remains a threat to the status quo. Phoebe Caulfield Phoebe Caulfield, Holden Caulfield's pretty, redheaded ten-year-old sister, is straightforward and independent.
She says exactly what she means. She does not share Holden's disenchanted view of the world. Quite the opposite, she scolds Holden for not liking anything at all. This hurts him very much because Phoebe is his favorite person—the only one with whom he can truly communicate. Phoebe is bright, well-organized, and creative. She keeps all her school work neatly in notebooks, each labeled with a different subject.
She also loves to write books about a fictional girl detective named Hazle [sic] Weatherfield, but according to Holden, she never finishes them. Holden delights in taking her to the zoo and the movies and other places, as did their dead brother, Allie. Her directness and honesty are both refreshing and amusing. He met her previously at a party, where she was the date of a Princeton student.
A burlesque stripper, she is supposed to be an "easy" conquest. She turns down Holden's invitation to get together and wishes him a nice weekend in New York. Jane Gallagher While she does not appear in the book, Jane Gallagher is very much present. Holden has a crush on this attractive and interesting young woman, who dances well and plays golf abominably.
He resents the fact that his roommate, Stadlater, takes her out on a date and suspects that Stadlater, who likes to brag about his alleged sexual conquests, has forced her to have sex with him. When he first arrives in New York, Holden wants to call her up, but he never actually does so. Sally Hayes Sally Hayes is Holden's very attractive ex-girlfriend.
He considers her stupid, possibly because she has an affected, pseudo-sophisticated manner. But he makes a date with her anyway. They go ice skating in Rockefeller Center, then go to a bar. Holden asks her to go away with him to Massachusetts or Vermont. She refuses, pointing out that they are much too young to set up housekeeping together and that college and Holden's career come first.
Holden doesn't want to hear about a traditional career. He becomes angry and tells Sally she's a "royal pain in the ass. Later, drunk, he calls her late at night to tell her that, yes, he will come to help trim her family's Christmas tree. Holden tries to strike up a conversation with him about where the ducks in Central Park go when the water in the lake freezes over.
But Horwitz obviously considers Holden somewhat of a loony and is abrupt with him.
Philosophy of Education (Phil ) | Prof. Christopher Moore
Carl Luce Carl Luce, Holden's former schoolmate, ostensibly his Student Adviser, was about three years older and "one of these very intellectual guys—he had the highest I. He arrived saying he could only stay a few minutes, ordered a martini, kept trying to get Holden to lower his voice and change the subject. Before leaving, he suggested that Holden call his father, a psychoanalyst, for an appointment. Morrow is the mother of Holden's classmate, Ernest.
Holden runs into her on the train to New York. They have a superficial conversation in which Mrs. Morrow is very friendly. So is Holden— but he lies about his identity because he doesn't want Mrs.
Morrow to know he has been kicked out of school. He asks him to find out whether the waiter delivered his message to the singer, Valencia, whom Holden wanted to invite to his table. The piano man, seeing how drunk Holden is, tells him to go home.
Lfllian Simmons Lillian Simmons is D. Holden's main observation about her: Spencer is Holden Caulfield's history teacher at Pencey. Before leaving on Saturday of his long weekend, Holden goes to Spencer's house to say goodbye. Spencer, ill with the grippe, is wearing pajamas and a bathrobe. Holden finds old men dressed this way to be pathetic, with their pale, skinny legs sticking out under their bathrobes and their pajama tops askew, revealing their pale, wispy chests.
Spencer obviously likes Caulfield, but he cannot resist giving him a lecture on his poor performance in history. Holden listens, agrees, and leaves as soon as he can. A playboy, he asks Holden to write an essay on a room or a house for him while he goes out on a date with Jane Gallagher, the girl Holden really cares about. A resentful Holden writes an essay about his brother Allie's baseball glove, on which Allie scribbled Emily Dickinson poems.
A secret slob he shaves with a dirty, rusty razorStradlater makes a good appearance. Smooth and slick, he likes to boast about his alleged sexual prowess. When he returns from his date, he is irate because Holden has written an essay about a baseball glove instead of a house.
Holden tears it up, has an argument with Stradlater, and ends up in a fistfight with him. Sunny Sunny is the prostitute Holden requests.
When she comes to his room in the Edmont Hotel, she discovers that Holden just wants someone to talk with. She leaves in disgust. Later, she returns with her pimp, Maurice, the hotel's elevator operator. They demand another five dollars for her time. Holden protests, and after she takes the money from his wallet. Three girls from Seattle After checking ip and calling Faith Cavendish, Holden goes to the bar of the Edmont Hotel—"a goddam hotel" that was "full of perverts and morons," comments Holden.
In the bar, he strikes up a conversation with three thirty-ish girls from Seattle who are spending their vacation touring New York City. He dances with them all, one by one, but the whole experience fizzles and he leaves the bar, calls a cab, and goes to Ernie's, a night club in Greenwich Village.
Two Nuns Two nuns with whom Holden strikes up a conversation in a restaurant. They are both school teachers, and Holden charms them with his expressions of enthusiasm about English literature. Phoebe sums up Holden's sense of separateness from and anger at other people when she tells him he doesn't like anything.
Holden's red hunting cap, which he dons when he is most insecure, is a continuing symbol throughout the book of his feeling that he is different, doesn't fit into his environment, and, what's more, doesn't want to fit in. Failure A second theme is that of failure. Holden continually sets himself up for failure, then wears it like a badge of courage. Thus he fails in every encounter with other people in the book with the exception of Phoebe.
Why would a sixteen-year-old want to fail? Failure serves as a great attention-getting device. And perhaps, more than anything, Holden wants attention from his parents, the absent characters in the book. What Holden really longs for, most likely, is acceptance and love.
Guilt and Innocence Holden is deceitful and manipulative in most of his dealings with others. And he knows this all too well and even boasts of his prowess as a liar. But throughout the book we glimpse another Holden, the one who feels sorry for the people he cons. His basic kindness comes through in glimpses, particularly in the passage where he reveals that the only thing he would like to be is a "catcher in the rye" protecting innocent children from falling into the abyss of adulthood.
Anger Holden is angry at everyone except Allie and Phoebe and perhaps the ducks in the pond in Central Park. Anger, of course, is the flip side of hurt. Holden is wounded by his disappointment in the faults of the world and frustrated because he finally realizes that he can't fix them. His failures may also be a way of acting out his anger at his parents and society at large.
Sexuality Holden struggles with his emerging sexuality. He is unable to relate in any meaningful way to the girls he encounters along the way, writing them off as sex objects.
He writes off other males as perverts or morons and views their sexuality with disgust. Confusion about sexual identity is common in adolescents. For Holden, it is terrifying. Courage Courage is one of the subtle themes running throughout the novel.
Holden, in his own twisted way, confronts the demons in his life and, therefore, stands a chance of wrestling them to the floor. Style Narrator In essence, we have three narrators of the events that take place in this book. The first is the author, J. Salinger, who was looking back in anger or in creativity from his thirty-two-year-old vantage point. The second is the seventeen-year-old Holden, still institutionalized, who tells the story as a recollection.
And the third, and most immediate, is the sixteen-year-old Holden who does all the talking. The form of the narration is first person, in which a character uses "I" to relate events from his or her perspective.
Stream of Consciousness The technique of the narration is a form known as " stream of consciousness. Wherever his mind wanders, the reader follows. Notice how his language often appears to be more like that of a ten-year-old than that of a smart sixteen-year-old.
This is a continuing demonstration of Holden's unwillingness to grow up and join the hypocritical adult world that he despises. Holden's conversation in the Wicker Bar with Luce demonstrates this reluctance aptly, when Luce expresses annoyance at Holden's immaturity. Salinger's early life as well, although the novel is not strictly autobiographical.
Through his description of Holden's history teacher, Mr. Spencer, and his portrayals of Holden's fellow students, Salinger recreates the stifling atmosphere of a s prep school, where a sense of alienation often resutled from not conforming to narrow social standards.
The New York City where Holden spent his nightmare weekend is the same Manhattan where Salinger grew up—smaller, a little homier, and a lot less glitzy than the New York City of today. And Holden's home and family are similar to those of Salinger. However, Salinger had only one sibling, a brother. From the taxi ride, to the seedy hotel where Holden stayed, to Rockefeller Center to Central Park, Holden's New York is tangible, real, and plays an active role like any other character in the book.
The descriptions of places and events are colorful and immediate. Salinger entices us into Holden's world whole and without resistance. He is a master of vivid story telling. Symbolism The book is rich in symbolism. The author drops hints of the meaning of its title twice before we find out what it is.
The first time, Holden hears a little boy in New York sing-songing "If a body meet a body comin' through the rye," an Americanization of Robert Burns 's poem and the song it inspired. The second time, Holden is with Phoebe and brings up the topic, referring to the song as "If a body catch a body comin' through the rye.
But Holden's dream of being a catcher in the rye derived from the second line of the poem persists. He will save the children from adulthood and disillusionment.
Holden's red hat is an abiding symbol throughout the book of his self-conscious isolation from other people.
The Catcher in the Rye
He dons it whenever he is insecure. It almost becomes his alter ego. After he gives it to Phoebe, she gives it back to him. We do not know at the end of the book whether he still needs this equivalent of a security blanket. Topics for Further Study Investigate current research on adolescent psychology. According to current theory, argue whether Holden Caulfield is a typical troubled adolescent or a seriously mentally ill young man.
Is Holden Caulfield a reliable narrator? Why or why not? Compare Holden's generation of the s to today's generation. How are the two cultures similar and different? Adults at this time had survived the Great Depression and the multiple horrors of the war. Paradoxically, the war that wounded and killed so many people was the same instrument that launched the nation into an era of seemingly unbounded prosperity.
In unprecedented numbers, people bought houses, television sets, second cars, washing machines, and other consumer goods. No wonder the nation wanted to forget the past and to celebrate its new beginnings. The celebration took the form of a new materialism and extreme conservatism.
Traditional values were the norm. People did not want to hear from the Holden Caulfields and J. Salingers of the era. They were in a state of blissful denial. Holden has withdrawn from this society enough to see it from a different perspective. He abhors the banality and hypocrisy he sees in the adult world and is therefore reluctant to participate in it, so his behavior, while that of an adolescent trying to affirm his own identity, also symbolizes the perceived shallowness of people and society.
Most of the things Holden fears peak in the s, when conservatism, rigid morality, and paranoid self-righteousness held the nation in a tight grip. Small wonder that s parents assailed Salinger's novel when it hit book stores and libraries in It undermined the foundations of their beliefs and threatened to unsettle their placid but pleasant existence, which was sustained by their hatred of an outside enemy—communism.
Cold War Concern Despite the materialistic prosperity of the s, many people were concerned about what appeared to be a troubling future. The Soviet Union acquired nuclear technology soon after the war, and the successful launch of the first artificial satelliteSputnik, in appeared to give the Russians a threatening advantage over the United States. Americans also questioned the success of their educational system, which had failed them in the space race.
The fear of nuclear war became so pervasive that students were regularly drilled on how to "duck and cover" in the case of an attack, and many families built bomb shelters in their backyards and stocked them with food and other supplies to survive a possible holocaust. Education In about ten percent of all children were educated in Catholic schools, which at the time received federal funding. This became a topic for debate as people disputed whether or not private institutions should receive taxpayer money.
Public schools that employed Roman Catholic nuns as teachers also became a target of debate, as some states, such as Wisconsin, denied these schools public support. Such actions were supported by the National Education Associationwhich took a strong antireligious stance. On the other hand, the National Catholic Educational Association argued that Catholic citizens supported public schools, and so it was unfair to deny parochial schools funding when they were meeting the same educational goals.
Religion was more prevalent in public schools during the s; religious topics were routinely taught in public schools: Pressure to Conform Social pressures to conform were intense in the s, not only in politics but also within the nation's educational system, which enjoyed multiple infusions of government funds. A college education became the passport to prosperity, especially after the G. Corporations grew rapidly to meet the increasing demands of consumers and sopped up the growing number of skilled employees.
Dress codes and embedded company cultures muted individualism. Jobs for white males were secure, while women stayed home and raised the many children ushered in by the postwar "Baby Boom.
While Catcher in the Rye was somewhat before its time in this regard, the subject had particular relevance in the years after its publication. Lifestyles began to change dramatically as teenagers began to date and become sexually active at a younger age. Teenagers became more rebellious, a trend that their parents viewed to be strongly influenced by a new, decadent form of music called rock 'n' roll.
This new attitude of rebelliousness was typified by Hollywood actors such as James Dean and Marlon Brandothe bohemian lifestyle of the beatniks, and later in the literature of Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg. Juvenile delinquency became an alarming problem and was considered a major social issue.
Teens were skipping classes and committing crimes, and parents were alarmed by their children's lack of respect for authority. Religion is an integral part of many classrooms. Bible readings and regular lessons about religious topics are included in course plans. The separation of Church and State is rigorously upheld and children do not study religious texts; prayer in schools becomes a burning issue, and there is growing pressure from religious factions to have educators teach creationism to counterbalance lessons in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Employer loyalty is the norm, and employees often remain with one company until they retire. Most employers that offer jobs with living-wage incomes require employees to have college degrees, even for low-level positions. Routine layoffs and downsizing largely eliminate company loyalty, and it becomes common for workers to switch jobs and even careers. Classroom curricula focus on basic skills, including reading, writing, and arithmetic, but the inclusion of science in classes becomes a growing priority as the educational system tries to prepare students for the needs of a more technology-oriented world.
Educators aim to give students wellrounded educations that include sex education and an emphasis on multicultural studies; parents become concerned that children are not being taught the basics and that high school students are graduating without knowing how to read. Educators recognize the need to train students in the use of computers, which become common equipment in classrooms and libraries. Postwar prosperity brings with it a preoccupation with material goods as the middleclasses enjoy unprecedented buying power; children begin to rebel against this crass materialism and conservatism, and nonconformist icons like actor James Dean become popular.
Adults who were the rebellious children of the s and s long for a return of the "family values" of the s; "family values" becomes a campaign buzz phrase for politicians as the American people return to conservative beliefs. Critical Overview Mixed reviews greeted J.
Then Holden suddenly is faced with the realization that he has to grow up, and learn to live without Allie. The initial reaction is painful; Holden breaks his hand in a fit of emotion soon after the death. By the time Holden is sixteen years old, he has done little more than accept the fact that Allie is dead.
We still see Holden seeking Allie in his bouts of depression. In chapter twenty-five, Holden, while walking along Fifth Avenue, begins to believe that he will not be able to get to the other side of the street each time he reaches the end of a block, as if he will just fall off. He talks aloud to Allie to help him get through the ordeal. Holden also continues to see Allie as one of the few things he likes about life.
Yet another demon that Holden avoids is the process of having to grow up. Throughout the book, he seems hesitant to develop any real ambitions or goals. He is a perpetual failure at school. He refuses to associate himself with mature ways of living, and so isolates himself from anyone his own age or older. This is all directly connected to Holden's picture-perfect image of his childhood.
He sees this particular period of his life as his own personal paradise. He does not want to finalize the fact that he has to concede it's innocence in the end. Towards the end of the book, Holden shows his desire for life to remain as it was by saying, You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. Holden does not want to join a world of phonies and greed, a world lacking in carelessness and irresponsibility.
He won't, whether consciously or not, accept the fact that he has no choice. A final conflict in the life of Holden Caufield is his own self-destructiveness. That he is suicidal is never deliberately pointed out in the book but there are several instances in which it is implied.
Antolini, being perhaps the only adult in the story that truly understands the seriousness of Holden's situation, at one point remarks, I can very clearly see you dying nobly, one way or another, for some highly unworthy cause, possibly insinuating that Holden might not value his life enough to avoid throwing it away.
Phoebe asks Holden about what he really likes about life, and all he can think of is a young boy named James Castle that commited suicide. At least one chapter finds him irrationally thinking he has cancer, and wandering around thinking he will certainly never make it to the other side of the street. One of the most significant allusions to suicide is when he walks around as though he has been shot, and afterward, in Central Park, he convinces himself that he has developed neumonia and will die very soon.
He imagines his funeral, and the reaction of his parents and Phoebe. By the end of the novel, Holden has envisioned his own death by at least four different methods: All of Holden's problems appear to have been derived from change, one way or another, and they all end up leaving him confused and depressed.
It is his problems with death and adulthood, that bring his selfdestructing nature into being. In The Catcher in the Rye, J. Salinger's Holden Caulfield finds himself caught in the binds of death, the adult world, and his personal self-destructiveness. Holden Caulfield Character analysis 3 The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Holden is a sixteen-year-old junior who has just been expelled for academic failure from a school called Pencey Prep. Although he is intelligent and sensitive, Holden narrates in a cynical and jaded voice.
He finds the hypocrisy and ugliness of the world around him almost unbearable, and through his cynicism he tries to protect himself from the pain and disappointment of the adult world. However, the criticisms that Holden aims at people around him are also aimed at himself.
He is uncomfortable with his own weaknesses, and at times displays as much phoniness, meanness, and superficiality as anyone else in the book. As the novel opens, Holden stands poised on the cliff separating childhood from adulthood.
His inability to successfully negotiate the chasm leaves him on the verge of emotional collapse. The number of readers who have been able to identify with Holden and make him their hero is truly staggering.
Something about his discontent, and his vivid way of expressing it, makes him resonate powerfully with readers who come from backgrounds completely different from his. It is tempting to inhabit his point of view and revel in his cantankerousness rather than try to deduce what is wrong with him. The obvious signs that Holden is a troubled and unreliable narrator are manifold: We know of two traumas in his past that clearly have something to do with his emotional state: In almost every case, he rejects more complex judgments in favor of simple categorical ones.
Holden is a virgin, but he is very interested in sex, and, in fact, he spends much of the novel trying to lose his virginity. He feels strongly that sex should happen between people who care deeply about and respect one another, and he is upset by the realization that sex can be casual.
Thus, the caul in his name may symbolize the blindness of childhood or the inability of the child to see the complexity of the adult world. His defining characteristic is his hatred of "phoniness" in every sphere of life. In fact, the prevalence of phonies in academia is one reason why Holden has just flunked out of his third prep school, Pencey, when the novel opens. Despite emerging as a great iconoclastic rebel, Holden also lacks direction, and that is reflected in his three days of wandering around New York.
Holden yearns for honesty from other people and finds himself repeatedly disappointed. He has an instinctive dislike of pomposity, power and those with an arrogant sense of entitlement. Those he criticizes include religious hypocrites, athletic heroes, and vacuous women obsessed with celebrities, among others. He has a witty streak and is not above spoofing others. His attitude toward sex is a peculiar blend of teenage lust, ambivalence and conscientiousness.
He ends up backing out of potential encounters with two women of so-called loose moral character. Much of what Holden does is an attempt to avoid continuing his academic career. He discusses his dreams of driving away to another state and living a rural life, or alternatively, from a metaphorical point of view, becoming the "catcher in the rye," a figure who saves people from throwing themselves over a cliff.
He mourns the death of his younger brother Allie and regrets that his older brother D. Holden's saving grace is his little sister Phoebe, whose clarity and compassion—if somewhat idealized—give him the strength to carry on.
But even her influence is not enough to keep him from ending up in some sort of sanitarium, where he confesses about his experience: She is successful in school, her best course being spelling. In her spare time, she writes fiction featuring a girl detective, an orphan named Hazle Weatherfield.
She likes elephants and has red ones on her blue pajamas. She studies belching with a friend named Phyllis; her best friend, Alice, is teaching Phoebe to induce a fever artificially by crossing her legs, holding her breath, and thinking of something very hot. She conscientiously promises not to burn Holden while demonstrating her trick. While she sometimes seems to be his best friend, at other times he is acutely aware of her sexuality or need for independence.
Twice Chapters 10 and 21 he says that she can sometimes be too affectionate. When Phoebe rides the carrousel, Holden realizes that there are times when kids want to try to grab the gold ring, symbolically taking a chance in life, and he must allow her the freedom to do that, even though she may fall.
That realization is a big step for Holden. All things considered, the relationship between Holden and Phoebe seems healthy and normal for caring siblings. It is in flux, as is everything in life, and Holden may regret that. For her part, Phoebe sometimes sees right through her brother. She realizes early in his visit that he has been expelled from Pencey. Although she is six years younger than Holden, she listens to what he says and understands him more than most other people do.
At times, she exhibits great maturity and even chastises Holden for his immaturity. Antolini, Phoebe seems to recognize that Holden is his own worst enemy.
He implies that he is the only noble character in a world of superficial and phony adults, and we must take him at his word. But Phoebe complicates his narrative.
Phoebe, then, serves as a guide and surrogate for the audience. Because she knows her brother better than we do, we trust her judgments about him. Our allegiance to the narrator weakens slightly once we hear her side of the story. She sees that he is a deeply sad, insecure young man who needs love and support. At the end of the book, when she shows up at the museum and demands to come with him, she seems not so much to need Holden as to understand that he needs her.
Themes Innocence As its title indicates, the dominating theme of The Catcher in the Rye is the protection of innocence, especially of children. For most of the book, Holden sees this as a primary virtue.
It is very closely related to his struggle against growing up. The people he admires all represent or protect innocence. He thinks of Jane Gallagher, for example, not as a maturing young woman but as the girl with whom he used to play checkers. He goes out of his way to tell us that he and Jane had no sexual relationship. Quite sweetly, they usually just held hands. Children play in the field with joy and abandon.
If they should come too close to the edge of the cliff, however, Holden is there to catch them. Innocence Chapter 4 Innocence 1: Holden's agitation about what Stradlater's going to do with his old friend Jane Gallagher shows Holden's innocence and sensitivity about sexual matters, an innocence a little surprising for a boy his age.
Chapter 7 Innocence 2: Holden's response after his fight with Stradlater he feels "lonesome and rotten" shows that he's still a pretty innocent and sensitive boy. By choosing to strike out on his own for a few days, however, Holden indicates that he may be ready for a journey that will lead to a loss of some of this innocence. Chapter 11 Innocence 3: When Holden is thinking about his innocent and sweet summer with Jane, he happens also to be sitting in a "vomity looking" chair.
This sort of tension between Holden's ofteninnocent thoughts and his increasingly seedy surroundings and experiences is evident throughout the novel. Chapter 13 Innocence 4: Holden reveals his sexual innocence by blurting out that he's a virgin during his description of his encounter with Sunny, the prostitute.
He's quite frank about this, as if he'd rather just get it off his chest than pretend to experience he doesn't have. Chapter 16 Innocence 5: The first time the "catcher in the rye" is mentioned in the novel is when Holden sees a little boy and his parents walking down the street, singing a song about the catcher.
The little boy seems to be in his own world, yet he is still safe and protected by his parents. This childhood innocence is what Holden seems to most long for later in the novel and what he strives to protect in others, too. When Holden tells the story about the trips he used to make as a kid to the Museum of Natural History, he's full of nostalgia for these old and innocent times.
Thinking about how these times are gone forever, Holden is driven almost to despair. Chapter 17 Innocence 7: Even though Holden has a lot to say about how annoying and phony Sally Hayes is, he ultimately wants to include her in an innocent vision of his: Chapter 22 Innocence 8: When Holden's sister Phoebe demands that he tell her one thing that he really likes, Holden's response - that he really likes Allie and he really likes just sitting there, talking to Phoebe - shows that he's most content in the simple and innocent world of his childhood.
When Holden explains his idea of the catcher in the rye more fully, it's revealed to be his vision of a protected field of innocence where Holden is the guardian stopping kids as they race towards the edge. Chapter 24 Innocence Antolini presents Holden with a vision of the man he'll become if he continues down the path of turning his innocence into cynicism. In this vision, Holden will become bitter and hate everyone by the time he's thirty.
Chapter 25 Innocence When Holden walks down Fifth Avenue, he feels as if he's falling off the edge of the world every time he steps off a curb. This can be read as symbolic of Holden's loss of innocence - there is no catcher in the rye for him.
All of the fuck you's that Holden begins to notice scratched on the walls of places frequented by kids are particularly distressing to him. They demonstrate that the innocent world of children has already been infected by the profanities of the adult world.
When Holden watches Phoebe on the carousel, he's both afraid that she's going to fall off reaching for the brass ring and happy to watch his sister's happiness. He finally concludes that you have to let kids reach for the gold ring and you can't always worry about protecting them, since they have to grow up in their own way. He sees much of life as a conflict between the authentic and the artificial, which is directly related to his attitude toward children and his resistance to the adult world.
The boy is not trying to please anyone; he is merely expressing his passion of the moment. These adult manipulations are, for him, the same as prostitution. The artists have sold out—for money or fame or just for applause. Nor can he tolerate what he sees as emotional manipulations in literature.
So do most films, especially sentimental war films.