The Catcher in the Rye: Connection to the Title

Topics: Meaning of life, Holden Caulfield, Joan Caulfield Pages: 3 (943 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Catcher In The Rye: Connection to the Title

The title of the novel The Catcher In The Rye, by JD Salinger, has a substantial connection to the story. This title greatly explains the main character, Holden Caulfield, and his feelings towards life and human nature. In society he has found enormous corruption, vulgarity, harm and havoc. He knows that the children of the world are ruined by the corruption of adults around them and, he states later in the novel, his new purpose in life will be to help save the children from this vulgarity. Holden wants to be a "Catcher in the Rye." We first hear the title of the novel being used in chapter 16, and in chapter 22 we have the full explanation of this title. Human dignity is vital to Holden's existence and the only way to guarantee this on a long term basis is to assist children in maintaining their innocence from the dangers of adulthood.

In chapter 16 we have the first reference to the meaning of the novel's title, The Catcher in the Rye. Holden hears a little boy singing to himself a verse which makes Holden very happy: "If a body catch a body coming through the rye," (Page 115). It is difficult to understand why Holden is made happy by the little boy's singing unless one has an idea of what the song means to Holden. The little boy is described by Holden in gentle caring terms: "The kid was swell. He was walking in the street, instead of on the sidewalk, but right next to the curb. He was making out like he was walking a very straight line, the way kids do, and the whole time he kept singing and humming." (Page 115). Holden notes that the child's parents pay no attention to him. To Holden this child represents innocence and youth unspoiled by adult immorality.

Holden wishes to serve humanity by safeguarding the innocence and purity of children, by protecting them from the evils of life. His little sister, Phoebe, asks him what he would like to be and he answers:

" I keep picturing all...
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