them- all cockeyed, naturally- what it meant, and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry
about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever’d written it. I figured it was some perverty
bum that’d sneaked in the school late at night to take a leak or something and then wrote it on the
wall. I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and how I’d smash his head on the stone steps till hew
as good and goddam dead and bloody.” (201) His deep concern with impeccability caused him to create
asked him to name something that he would like to be when he grew up, the only thing he would have
kids, and nobody’s around- nobody big, I mean- except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some
they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch
only thing I’d really like to be.” (173) Holden wants to stop children from “falling” into losing their
innocence and becoming an adult, and he takes pleasure in the attempted thwarting of maturation.
characterizes almost every person he meets as a “phony”. He feels that he is surrounded by hypocrites
leader of the whole charade. During a teacher/parent day, Principal Thurmer would only say hello to the
because he was a phony.
Holden also maintains a lack of responsibility throughout the whole book. He was the equipment
two schools for lack of effort and absences from classes. Holden also had a daydream about two
ever expects to maintain sanity. Holden has a fixation on childhood, which shows itself in many forms.
His glorification of children, inordinate admiration of Phoebe, idealization of his dead younger brother,
and the joy he gets from reminiscing about his own childhood all contribute to his obsession with
innocence and youth.
Throughout the middle of the book, forces of change unfold on Holden. While waiting for an old friend
order to bring back memories of his childhood. However, when he finally reached the museum, he
decided not to. “Then a funny thing happened. When I got to the museum, all of a sudden I wouldn’t
have gone inside for a million bucks. It just didn’t appeal to me…” (122) This shows that Holden is
becoming an adult. He did not want to enter the museum because he realized that he was too old to
take part in such an activity. When he takes Phoebe to a carousel later in the book, he decided not to
him that she wanted to go along with him, but he denies her of this because of his growing responsibility
At the end of the book, Holden seems to be much more mature. His key step was when he did not ride
with Phoebe on the carrousel. Holden only watched his sister ride along. In the center of the carousel,
prize. “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid
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 it’s bad if you say anything to them.”(211) This carousel symbolizes life, and the constant
journey of childhood into adulthood. Children would sometimes fall when striving to reach the gold ring
in the center of life, or their complete success or adulthood. Holden would have yelled out to the children
should go along the path of life by themselves.
Throughout the book, Holden tried to save all children from growing up and losing their innocence.
When he realized that he could not achieve this goal, he had a nervous breakdown and could not deal
with it. However, it is an inevitable fact that everyone has to grow up.
“Catcher in the Rye”
By J.D Salinger