Catcher in The Rye Motif Paper

February 2, 2012
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When you lose somebody that was close to you, it’s almost like losing part of yourself. Allie was like a part of Holden, he gave him a more positive outlook on life, he was the bright light in Holden’s sky. After Allie’s death, his light went further up in the sky and Holden could no longer see the light in the same way he used to. Holden fears death because he lost his innocence early in life, as well as losing Allie and he doesn’t want others to have to go through the same things that he had to. Holden wants to be the ‘catcher in a field of rye’ so that nobody has a terrible fall like the one that Holden experiences.

Holden shows how much he cares about Allie when he talks about visiting him at the cemetery. He says that he certainly doesn’t “ …enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery” (155). Holden talks about a few times when he went to visit Allie’s grave and how the rain started to pour down into a storm. All of the visitors that were there could run to go under shelter where it’s warm and dry but Allie couldn’t, he was stuck under the ground, able to go nowhere. Holden mentions that he stopped coming to the cemetery with his parents because he hates to see Allie stuck, he feels that he should be under the grave, and Allie should be enjoying life. Holden says “It’s not to bad when the sun comes out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out”(156). In this quote we see that you can’t control when life’s good or bad, or when one person’s under the grave and the other isn’t.

Holden doesn’t like the feeling when he’s able to do nothing, or coming to the realization that there’s nothing he can do about Allie being stuck in a cemetery. Another thing that Holden can’t control is when things are constantly changing, he prefers the preservations in life like museums, and he enjoys the feeling of coming back to something that is still the same, because he considers change to be a big challenge. In a quote Holden says “ I kept thinking about old Phoebe going to that museum on Saturdays the way I used to…. Certain things, they should stay the way they are”(122). Holden always tries to “hold on” to things as long as he can, because he likes the feeling of things that are preserved. One reason why Holden hates change is because he never knows which path the change is leading him down. On Holden’s journey he asks two different cab drivers the question ‘Where do the ducks go?’, as well as pondering over the question himself. One reason why he asks this question so often is because the ducks know where they’re going for the winter, but Holden doesn’t know what he’s going to do after failing out of Pency.

From things changing so often in Holden’s life, he has a very negative outlook on things. When Holden sneaks home to see Phoebe, she starts a conversation with him about one thing in his life that he enjoys and likes. Holden responds saying that he likes Allie. Phoebe says to him that Allie doesn’t count because he’s dead, but Holden starts to get into an argument that Allie still counts, even though he’s dead, and that he’s a lot nicer than most of the people alive that Holden knows (172). Holden is starting to see his life as a glass of lemonade that is half empty, instead of half full. Here Holden says, “What it was, it was partly frozen, and partly not frozen. But I didn’t see ducks around. I walked all around the whole… lake- I… near fell in once, in fact- but I didn’t see a single duck” (154). Here Holden is using the lagoon as a metaphor for his own life, he’s not sure if life is an obstacle or an opportunity waiting to happen. Holden realizes that if the ducks have found a place to go, then maybe Holden himself might find somewhere to go.
Holden starts to think about his future, and when Phoebe asks him, he tells her that he wants to be the catcher in the rye. “What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff- I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them” (173). Holden wants to save children of their innocence to save them of something that Holden lost at a young age.
Holden’s negativity comes from his loss of innocence, and therefore wants to save kids and preserve their childhood by being the catcher in the rye. Holden doesn’t want people to suffer through many hard changes in life. When thinking about this Holden doesn’t always realize that children have to make mistakes to learn from them. Here Holden says “…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 it's bad if you say anything to them” (211). Here we see that Holden is starting to understand that you can’t hide things from children, like death or swear words written on the walls because they’ll still be there, no matter how hard you try to keep them back. Being the catcher in the rye would save children of innocence, in the sense of what happened to Holden, but sometimes you have to face your fears, and learn to overcome what’s happened to you in the past. Sometimes the hardest thing in life is climbing back up the cliff after you’ve just fallen off, but it is something that Holden needs to learn how to do in order to make it through, and succeed in the rest of his life.





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