Catcher in the Rye Argument
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Ever experienced what you had always believed in turned out to be opposite? Most people were aware of it, yet chose not to apprehend reality when they grew up. They had made too many decisions based on their misguided beliefs that it involved too much losses or changes if they were to convert. Holden Caulfield is a perfect example. Even though growing up was imperative, he had a difficult time adjusting to it. Instead, Holden preferred that things stayed as it was.
Even after Phoebe corrected the lyrics for Holden, he refused to change his interpretation. The actual words were, “If a body meet a body coming through the rye” (chapter 22). He took no regard to it, because of his fear of confronting another person, especially with adults. He lied to gain respect from them. During the train ride in New York with Ernest Morrow’s mother, Holden praised him, “When I first met him, I thought he was kind of a snobbish person… But he isn’t” (chapter 8). In the next paragraph, Holden then admitted, “ You take somebody’s mother, all they want to hear about is what a hot-shot their son is”. Holden preferred his own interpretation, “If a body catch a body coming through the rye”, because the concept of being a catcher attracted him.
Being a catcher in the rye is an unrealistic job to begin with, nor it should even be categorized as a job. A job is a means of earning a living. In the book, Holden imagined himself standing at the edge of the cliff to prevent children from falling over (chapter 22). Throughout the description, there were no mention of him working under someone or earning a profit as a catcher. He had yet to consider money as a prime motivation to work due to his immaturity, and also being least important compared to growing up. A possible boss-of-catcher would be the writer of the poem, Robert Burns, and provided he was not a phony if Holden ever met him. Being a catcher meant Holden could harness the power of choosing who to remain on the cliff with him.
He could forcefully bring specific people into his life, and dump phonies away. Such power gave Holden the superiority he desired while going through the lowest point of his life. It can also symbolize Holden’s loneliness, for he is at the edge of the cliff by himself watching other children playing as a group. Holden’s confidence was amplified by the misinterpreted poem, as he thought the writer shared the same belief as him. Regarding a catcher as a dream job also showed that Holden knew his intelligence was not applicable in the mainstream society. Even though he was expelled from numerous schools (chapter 2), he was still able articulate narratively throughout the book. His strong desire to prevent change had clouded his judgement of the people he interacted with.
Holden refused to grow up and preferred that time remained before the death of Allie. In his fantasy world of a catcher in the rye, change was not motivated by time. Holden had the freedom of doing whatever he wanted because he mentioned no one else there was bigger except him (chapter 22). Holden would have prevented Allie’s death from the cliff if he was in his fantasy. He had always adored Allie because he was too smart for his age. This was also the main reason why he could not apprehend growth as Allie’s example proved the society wrong. Holden was afraid of death, as it was the ultimate change in his life when Allie was gone. Being a loner, Allie was the only true friend he had. Holden continued to show signs of rejecting change later in the book when he was about to visit the museum. “When I got to the museum, all of a sudden I wouldn’t have gone inside for a million bucks” (chapter 16). He mentioned in the earlier paragraph that museums always stayed the same way, and “The only thing that would be different would be you”. Holden used to visit the museum as a kid, but after Allie was gone, he was different. Enlightened from this thought, he decided to skip the visit.
Change is inevitable. Even if Holden’s dream did come true, he still had to go through growth and change. The children would leave. Some too old to stay on playing, while others died of diseases just like Allie. At the end of the day, the only person left on the cliff would be him. Being a catcher would be an impermanent job, contrary to Holden’s belief of staying forever pure and innocent. If Holden chose to understand the poem as “If a body meet a body coming through the rye”, he would have an easier time constantly meeting new people and lead a better life. Besides, constant change is the only permanence.