Themes in The Catcher in the Rye

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Zayar Phyo

11th September 2004

English (10 C)

Themes in The Catcher in the Rye

In The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D. Salinger in 1951, shows about the teenage life and thoughts. This novel is written in Holden Caulfield’s point of view. This helps the reader to know and understand more about him. Holden is a teenage boy from 1940s who doesn’t like phony but he himself is a phony. His thoughts and his characteristics are different from most of the teenagers. This novel reveals several themes. Three of the most important themes are how does Holden view the world that he is living in, loss of innocence and his depression and loneliness.  

Holden's view of the world as phony is a very strong one and in most cases is correct. Holden thinks that the majority of the people in the world are pretending to impress and befriend with other people. In a way Holden is probably correct in thinking that most of the people he comes in contact with are phony such as his roommate at Pencey, Ward Stradlater. Holden refers to Stradlater as a secret slob. He describes how Stradlater always tries to be neat and tidy on the outside to impress others but how he is not when you get to know him. In the scene where Holden and Stradlater are in the can and Stradlater is getting ready for a date, Holden describes Stradlater's razor is rusty and full with hair and lather. Furthermore you can see that how Holden doesn’t want to react to corrupt and evil society when he tells about his future to Sally. He tells that he will never come back home. He will just say bye to Pheobe then he will go to the West by getting a ride. He will find a job and pretend to be a deaf mute so that he doesn’t need to talk to people. Then later he will build a cabin and live there alone forever but if he gets a wife and children he will hide from the society. These above statements illustrate how Holden views the world that he is living in.

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Another big theme of the novel is Innocence of children. Holden believes that the children are almost perfect in the way that they are truthful, innocent and not phony. They never pretend or try to impress others. Holden has strong feelings of love towards children as evidenced through his caring for Phoebe, his little sister. He is protective of her and all the other children’s innocence. He tries to erase bad words from the walls in Phoebe’s elementary school and in the Egyptian Tomb in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in order to not let them learn from the graffiti ...

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