Salinger’s Development Of Holden’s Character In

1079 words - 4 pages

The American classic, The Catcher in the Rye, although simply written, had quite sophisticated meanings. Salinger used seemingly inconsequential details of the novel as hidden metaphors to help carry out the theme. The main character and narrator, Holden, has many concealed allegories behind him, when uncovered, create a new and enlightened way of perceiving him and understanding his actions. As the insightful and tragic story comes to an end, the mere details unfold to become primary elements in concluding the theme.We first meet Holden as he sits on a hill, detached from the rest of the school at a football game. This has a big part to do with the theme throughout the novel: Holden's loneliness and seclusion from the rest of the world. On the hill, Holden sets himself "above the rest" and apart from those he thinks he is better than. The "phoniness" of his peers' lives disgust him and he is avoiding their presence. In a way, it seems as though "he is 'Holden' back, not allowing himself to become part of the ugliness he sees in virtually everyone." The name "Holden" depicts his incapability to interact with others because of his disgust and low regard for other's lifestyles. Caulfield, Holden's last name, has a lot to do with the theme of childhood innocence throughout the novel. A "caul" is a part of one of the membranes encasing the fetus, which is sometimes around the head when the child is born. It's obviously some sort of protection, quite possibly from the rest of the world. The caul protects children, just as Holden wishes he could do in saving the innocence in society. The last part of Caulfield, "field", has to do with the title's theme (Downey). The catcher in the rye has to do with a childhood fable in which the catcher catches children from falling off the cliff. Since the rye in the field is so high, the children cannot see over it. This elucidates the novel's metaphoric title, as the children cannot see beyond the boundaries of childhood and out of innocence. "Standing on the precipice that separates the rye field of childhood from the cliff of adulthood, Holden wants to protect childhood innocence from the fall into disillusionment that necessarily accompanies childhood" (Phillips).Holden's preoccupation with childhood and youth innocence has a lot to do with the struggles he's been through. Although Holden vows in the beginning that he won't talk about his adolescence, Salinger lets several of his disturbing occurrences slip through as Holden is reminiscing. "Throughout the novel, it becomes increasingly clear that Allie's death was one of the most traumatic experiences of Holden's life and may play a major role in his current psychological breakdown"”the cynicism with which Holden avoids expressing his feelings may result from Allie's death" (Phillips). Holden reminisces throughout the novel about how much he misses Allie and he even says to Phoebe once that Allie is the only thing that he likes. The only problem is,...

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