The Theme of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
In the novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist Holden Caulifield views the world as an evil corrupt place where there is no peace. Holden has a phony phobia that restricts him from becoming a fully matured adult. In Holden's attempted journey in becoming a fully matured adult, he encounters many scenarios involving friendship, personal opinions, and his love of children. His journey is an unpleasant and difficult one with many lessons learned along the way; including the realization that he is powerless to change the world.
Around every corner Holden sees corruption. He looks out on a world, which appears completely immoral and unscrupulous. Holden finds a hard time associating with older, mature individuals. Most of Holden's fondest memories are of those times with his younger siblings. His comments of innocence help establish this connection " You take adults, they look lousy when they're asleep and they have their mouths way open, but kids don't. Kids look alright." (pg 159). Holden's moral revulsion against anything that is ugly, evil, cruel, or what he calls 'phony' and his acute responsiveness to beauty and innocence, especially the innocence of the very young is what distances him from adults who he feels create feelings of grief for him. Holden believes that he can change the world and he reveals his feelings on a date with Sally '" Did you ever get fed up? … I mean did you ever get scared that everything was going to go lousy unless you did something…"'(pg 130). Holden proposes to Sally to escape this world with him. It is finally to his younger sister that Holden reveals that he wants to prevent children from growing up. He blames the world's corruption on adults and believes that when he stops the children from growing up he will preserve their innocence and save the world.
Holden's phony addiction gets him into trouble at school. Holden looks for the flaws in everyone and tries to eliminate that person he sees as a threat, such as when Holden decides to face off against the phony Stradlater after Stradlater's date...