In J. D. Sallinger’s Catcher in the Rye, is based on the sullen life of Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old teen-ager is trying to find his sense of direction. Holden, a growing adult, cannot accept the responsibilities of an adult. Eventually realizing that there is no way to avoid the adult life, he can only but accept this alternative lifestyle. What Holden describes the adult world as a sinful, corrupted life, he avoids it for three important reasons: His hatred towards phonies and liars, unable to accept adult responsibilities, and thirdly to enshrine his childhood youth.
Holden uses the word phony to identify everything in the world that he rejects or encounters with. People are too talkative, too quiet, or dissimilar. Holden, himself, believes he is this perfect person, but no one believes that he is. This is why Holden believes he is surrounded by “phoniness. ” For example, Ossenburger of Pencey Prep, emphasizes that “he talked to Jesus all the time, even when he was driving his car. ” Holden thinks this is a load of crap and asserts, “‘that killed me. I just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs” (17).
Holden sees why he would pray to Jesus, only to send him some more dead bodies to get more business. Not only do phonies bug Holden, but liars and crooks. Another example is Sunny and Maurice, the elevator boy. Maurice offers Holden a prostitute for the night, “Innarested in having a little tail t’night” (90)? Holden decides to take up on this offer, and later that night, as promised Sunny knocks at his door. After entering the room, Holden cannot make a decision to sleep with the prostitute, an example of Holden clinging on to his childhood.
He instead pays the prostitute for her trouble getting to his room, but after leaving, she barges back in with Maurice, complaining of how little she got. Maurice roughs up Holden and gets to his money, where Holden thinks more deprecate towards phonies and liars. Realizing what a real phony and liar people bound to be growing up, he decides to avoids the real world Being an adult is to have expectations and responsibilities growing up. When Holden comes up to a situation, he cannot deal with it, always avoiding or making excuses. His job as an adolescent teenager was to finish school with good grades.
Unable to do that, he dishes back and forth, going to different schools, only to fail again. After failing Pency, Mr. Spencer, Holden’s old history teacher, talks to him knowing he’s beyond Mr. Spencer’s help and tells him not to worry. “‘I’m just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don’t they” (15)? Holden believes this is a phase, but progressing in the novel, he realizes its more than a phase, it would be his future. Holden didn’t believe in his future, “I feel some concern for my future… but not too much” (184).
Living in a high suburb life, it was not necessary for too many worries in the world. Exposed to the world, he came out broken and left out. Parents always protect their children from the realities of the world, but growing up, there would be an invisible line of knowledge that everyone must face as a growing adult. Holden is this child, traveling alone in his journey, faced with unexpected troubles. For example, when Holden sees profanity written on a wall he feels depressed, “That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any.
You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write F’ you’ right under your nose” (204). Holden does not want to expose children to this profanity, even though he himself swears more than ever. Holden holds Allie and Phoebe in such high esteem because they are innocent, unlike the phony adults, such as his other brother D. B who works in Hollywood writing scripts. Holden believed that children were innocent because they viewed the world and society without doubt.
This leads to Holden’s dream of being “the catcher in the rye” (115), which relates to a poem where the catcher prevents small children from falling of a cliff. Eventually Holden will have to accept the fact that everyone has to grow up, including himself. In the long run, Holden realizes that he cannot protect every child from phonies, nor can he preserve his childhood innocence. He realizes he has to face his adult responsibilities, return to school and get his life to pace. His change of view from the beginning to the end has a huge significance to his problems and realizes he has grown up from what his 16-year started from.