Fall From Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye
In J.D. Salinger's , Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield goes through a fall from his innocence throughout his journey to his safe haven, home.
One example of when Holden fell from his own innocence is when he is in the room with Phoebe and he can't name anything he likes. Holden reacts to this question by saying, "Boy, she was depressing me"(Salinger 169). The only three things he can name that he liked were Allie, James Castle, and sitting there chewing the fat with Phoebe. The reason this is a time when Holden falls is because he gets really depressed when he can barely think of anything he liked. The reason I think Holden gets so depressed is because two of the people he names are dead. That's why he is so lonely all the time. Holden finds things in common with Allie and James Castle and since they're both dead he feels, in the back of his mind, that he should also be dead which makes him depressed.
Another example of a fall for Holden is when he realizes he can't erase even half the "fuck you's" in the world. This doesn't sound very important, but it is symbolic because he realizes that he can not be the catcher in the rye. His dream of shielding all the innocent children from society's harsh elements has been ruined by this one statement. Now because of this realization he comes to the conclusion that he can not shield everybody, not even half of everybody. An example of Holden trying to be the catcher in the rye is when Holden first sees the "fuck you" on the wall. Holden said,
It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them- all cockeyed, naturally what it meant, and how they'd think about it even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd written it.(Salinger 201)
Holden's final fall comes when he is in the Egyptian Tomb in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When Holden is deep within the Egyptian Tomb he feels he is in a safe and sanitary place free from society's cruel components until he sees the "fuck you" on the wall. When he sees this he starts to think about committing suicide because he feels like living is just a waste. During this time he spent in the tomb he decides on life or death. After going unconscious for a couple of minutes he decides to live because, "Death thus becomes not a gesture of defiance but of surrender"(Miller 17). Once Holden wakes up he feels better and symbolically chooses life. This is when Holden begins to rise. When Phoebe is on the carousel Holden wants to protect her but restrains himself, "The thing is with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but its bad to say anything to them"(Miller 17-18)When Holden says this his dreams of being catcher in the rye vanish. He realizes that all children must fall, like he himself did.
In conclusion, The Catcher in the Rye is a story of a boy falling from innocence to enter adulthood. An example of J.D. Salinger using symbolism to show Holden's Holding on to his childhood is in his name, Holden(Hold On). This is referring to Holden not wanting to enter society and all it's phonies. Today, when somebody holds on to their innocence they are often considered outcasts; and in the persons mind everyone who considers him this, is a phony, like how Holden saw everyone.
After Holden Caulfield returns to his native New York and rents a room in a sleazy hotel, he makes a date with Sally Hayes. Before this date, Holden finds himself wandering the streets of the naked city. He is feeling depressed and finds himself on Broadway trying to purchase a record for his sister. After making this purchase, Holden notices a poor family walking in front of him. This unit is composed of a father, mother, and "little kid." Holden notices the child who is walking in a straight line in the street and humming a tune to himself. Holden approaches him to determine the tune he is singing. This tune is "If a Body Catch a Body Coming Through the Rye."Holden finds it amusing that the child is strutting quite literally on Broadway and is so care-free. He notices cars screeching and honking all over the place, and yet the child proceeds. The child's happy disposition seems to encourage Holden's on vitality. It gripped Holden that the child was singing with "a pretty little voice...just for the hell of it" and brightened him up. A deeper interpretation of this scene would dictate that the child represents Holden's own personality and life. Holden is defiantly singing his own tune just for the hell of it and like the child, seems to have no regard for his own well-being. At this point, Holden may see a side in himself that is care-free and this lightens his depression.
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