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The title of the novel The Catcher In The Rye, by JD Salinger, has a


substantial connection to the story. This title greatly explains the main


character, Holden Caulfield, and his feelings towards life and human nature. In


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society he has found enormous corruption, vulgarity, harm and havoc. He knows


that the children of the world are ruined by the corruption of adults around


them and, he states later in the novel, his new purpose in life will be to help


save the children from this vulgarity. Holden wants to be a Catcher in the


Rye. We first hear the title of the novel being used in chapter 16, and in


chapter we have the full explanation of this title. Human dignity is vital


to Holdens existence and the only way to guarantee this on a long term basis is


to assist children in maintaining their innocence from the dangers of adulthood.





In chapter 16 we have the first reference to the meaning of the novels


title, The Catcher in the Rye. Holden hears a little boy singing to himself a


verse which makes Holden very happy If a body catch a body coming through the


rye, (Page 115). It is difficult to understand why Holden is made happy by the


little boys singing unless one has an idea of what the song means to Holden.


The little boy is described by Holden in gentle caring terms The kid was


swell. He was walking in the street, instead of on the sidewalk, but right next


to the curb. He was making out like he was walking a very straight line, the


way kids do, and the whole time he kept singing and humming. (Page 115).


Holden notes that the childs parents pay no attention to him. To Holden this


child represents innocence and youth unspoiled by adult immorality.


Holden wishes to serve humanity by safeguarding the innocence and purity


of children, by protecting them from the evils of life. His little sister,


Phoebe, asks him what he would like to be and he answers





I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of


rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobodys around - nobody big, I mean


- except me. And Im 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


theyre running and they dont look where theyre going I have to come out from


somewhere and catch them. Thats all Id do all day. Id just be the catcher


in the rye and all. I know its crazy, but thats the only thing Id really


like to be. I know its crazy. (Page 17)





From this quotation one can see that his role is completely selfless and humane


the beneficiary of his good deeds would be society at large, not Holden


Caulfield. He sees himself as the savior of children, of innocence and basic


human dignity. What ultimately drives Holden mad is the realization that he


cannot single-handedly eliminate the corruption and vulgarity of the world.


When he understands that he must redefine his purpose in life and shift the


focus of his good intentions to those areas where he can accomplish good, he is


able to pull himself out of the despair and set forth a new path in life.





Holden is torn between the desire on the one hand to grow up and to


adjust and on the other hand to stay a child, living in a world of security


and innocence. He has perceived adulthood as a fallen condition characterized


by evil, falsity and betrayal and so has tried to evade it by dreaming of


retreating to the woods, living in isolation - even dreaming of dying. However


in chapter 5, when Holden rejects his desire to prevent Phoebe from reaching


for the gold ring, it signals his coming to terms with his inner conflict.


Through the example of Phoebe, he begins to be restored to a belief in life -


to accept that living connects both pain and joy, beauty and ugliness. Holden


realizes that risks must be taken if one is to grow 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. If they fall off, they fall off, but its bad if you say anything to


them. (Page 11).





Throughout the novel, The Catcher In The Rye, and with the information


stated above, one can clearly see that the title is relevant to the story.


Holden Caulfield wants to be a Catcher in the Rye. He feels a need to save


all children from the corruption and immorality that is found within society.


He wishes to aid mankind by protecting the innocence and purity of children.


Holden tries to do this by protecting children from the evils of life, as


symbolized by the cliff. He believes that if he could save the children and


their purity of heart then he would be helping society enormously. He realizes


though that he cannot solely do this, and redefines his purpose to something


more approachable. He now understands that maybe falling isnt that bad after


all, and that one must take risks if one is to grow. When he makes this


decision he rejects the role of catcher and in addition affirms his own


acceptance of his evolving maturity.


We see Holden as a constant character. As a person who refuses to


accept reality and tries as much as he can to grasp childhood. He wants to


become patron of the children in order to protect their purity and


innocence.





And as a final remark I would like to say that when we are honest


we can see within ourselves suppressed elements of the forces operating


within Holden Caulfield, and because of that I would recommend this thought


provoking novel as a fascinating and enlightening description of our human


condition. However, beware ... for that very reason it is not comfortable


reading.





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