The Catcher In The Rye

The Catcher in the Rye (1951) written by Salinger is the story of a 16-year old boy in search of sincerity, beauty and true relationships. Two days spent in New York were enough for him to be confronted with bitter experiences that revealed to him the hypocrisy and promiscuity of a decaying world. Holden, this boy who is the main character, tells the story of what happened in those days, a few months later when recovering into a psychiatric hospital. This novel is the modern version of Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’.

Holden is therefore the growing teenager who is kept between a world of the innocence and a complex world of adulthood. He is kept between these two worlds while possessing a fixation with childhood. Holden looks like some grumpy old man who is angry about everything in this world as he is telling his story. He refuses to get in touch with his parents for two reasons: first, he do not want them to know that he was in New York, and second they should not find out that he had been expelled from his school. Thus, he does not have a close relationship with his parents.

Throughout the book, Holden is praising his two siblings, Allie and Phoebe, looking as if they were candidates for sainthood. Holden is helpless in the adult world. He is too young to be accepted in the world of grown-ups which he rejects and too old to enjoy children’s games. Facing hypocrisy, Holden kept on dreaming of the innocent childhood with games without end. Not having found accomplishment in the adult world, he returns to childhood where he feels secure. He retreats into a fantasy world of innocent childhood for he wants to remain a child. For him, adulthood is a world of destruction, corruption and evil. He clings to his own world without being able to face reality. His limited experience and perspective do not allow him to find answers to the phoniness of the world he lives in. However, Holden tries to be rational in a world which is neither rational nor good.

The novel was an enormous success due to Salinger’s personal style, the real, often slangy speech of a sensitive American teenager. All in all, the character did not find fulfillment in the adult world and therefore, he decided to devote himself to the task of being ‘a catcher in the rye’ in order to protect a group of children from falling into a nearby precipice.


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