advertisement
advertisement

The Catcher in the Rye is the story of Holden Caulifield ‘s expulsion from Pensy Prep and his journey back home to N.Y.C, where he bums around for a few days, trying to get somebody to listen to him, and meaningfully respond to his fears about becoming an adult. Holden by the way has grown six inches in the last year and half of his head is covered in grey hairs – both impending signs of adulthood.
In this novel he is so obsessed with, and protective of innocence that he can’t even throw a snowball at a car, because it “looked so nice and white”. He tries and asks many people in the city about his problems during the novel, and nothing else much happens. No heavy action scenes, no real voilene and no sex scenes - as Holden is probably the first person in the world to pay a prostitute not to have sex with him.
What Holden really wants is not money or sex or anything, he wants to stop time. As he says when thinking about the natural history museum, “The best thing though, about that museum, is that everything always stayed right where it was.” Holden wants to be a protector of innocence, a catcher in the rye, but he also wants to stay innocent himself.
This is innocence is explained through sex – a possible sexual advance from an adult at the end of the novel Holden says “This sort of thing has happened about twenty times since I was a kid.” From that alone we see why the adult world seems so phoney to Holden, as the only adult who pays attention to him in the entire novel is one with alternate motives.
So he just wants to stop time to keep himself and the people he cares about away from that phoney world. Holden time back, if you will.


advertisement

At the end of the novel, Holden says to Phoebe “Listen, do you wanna go for a walk?” Holden finally gets listened to. Well they start off walking on opposite sides of the street, but he does get listened to. Holden watches as his little sister goes round and around on the merry-go-round.
And moments later we feel something welling up inside of us as Holden writes “I felt so damn happy. The way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling I was so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why, it’s just she kept going around and around in her blue coat and all. God I wish you could’ve been there.”
Some say that Holden never changes throughout the novel, but he does right at the end. The boy who wants nothing to change becomes so damn happy when he sees his little sister go around and around.
When Holden stops thinking of time as a line to corrupt adulthood but instead imagines it as a circle where one goes around and around in a journey to and from innocence that lasts throughout life, he can finally be so damn happy.
Yes, Holden never really gets anywhere, and nothing much happens, it just keeps going around and around. But that doesn’t mean nothing ever changes.