Thorough Analysis of Theme in J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye

Topics: The Catcher in the Rye, Russia, Last Day of the Last Furlough Pages: 3 (1169 words) Published: May 22, 2012
ThoThe Inevitability of Change
The Catcher in the Rye contains several literary symbols. The author, J.D. Salinger, purposefully uses these symbols in order to help clarify an overall theme. The symbolic nature of the story revolves around the main character, Holden Caulfield. J.D. Salinger depicts the corruption of the adult world which causes transition from childhood to adulthood to be an inevitable yet difficult process. Some of the symbols J.D. Salinger uses to relate to his theme are “The Catcher in the Rye”, the museum, the ducks that are at central lagoon park, rain, and the golden ring on the carousel.

In chapter 16 the title of the book appears within the text which helps describe how corruption in the adult world causes a difficulty in an unstoppable transition of childhood to adulthood. A boy that Holden Caulfield was observing was singing a song “If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” (Salinger, 115). The song is a symbol representing the innocence of children and how exposure to the adult world can easily corrupt children. Holden views the song as if it were a rye field in which the children are playing in. The ends of this field are not bounded. His job is to protect the children from falling off this rye field, basically becoming “The Catcher in the Rye”. The outside of the field represents the adult-world and the corruption of children. The inside of the field represents innocence and youthfulness. The ends of the field represent the transition between childhood and adulthood, which Holden believes to be occurring too quickly. He believes that the kids are falling out of the field too quickly; therefore, he needs to protect them from falling, mainly he wants to protect his sister, Phoebe. Holden, who is stuck in the transition between his childhood and adulthood, begins to realize that he cannot protect everyone and that this change is inevitable. Near the end of the story Holden meets up with his sister and takes her to the park....
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