A Futile Task
What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place, I want to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel worse.
--Salinger, page 7
Upon an initial perusal, the bittersweet image depicts Holden Caulfield on account of his untimely expulsion from Pencey Prep for not applying himself lately. The teenager stands on a hill in complete solitude, watching the nearby football game, and contemplating if he should say a final farewell to the school. Ambivalent, the melancholy teenager leaves himself in a confused and vulnerable position to the lonely and corrupt reality of the world. In an attempt to endure the vices that alter the blissful spirit, he feels the need to make things right by saving what little recognizable evidence of purity that the world has not already desecrated. All throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye, author J.D. Salinger establishes Holden’s bizarre attraction toward particular places, objects, and experiences, past and present. The author concurrently sets out the subtle, tender concern that Holden has for the preservation of innocence and where life will ultimately end up. At essential points in the plot, Salinger embodies these two motifs, which metaphorically represent each other, in order to uncover the true sadness that lurks in an abandoned Holden. By doing this, the author reveals the greater theme that unlike artifacts of history, constrained the human spirit would severely stunt any opportunity of development for people.
Salinger constantly highlights the motif of Holden’s endeavors to preserve innocence from being tainted by corruption. The author first presents this through the objects that Holden develops a bond with. To demonstrate that bond, Salinger produces a scene in which Holden...