Catcher in the Rye


THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger tells of the wanderings of Holden Caulfield as he winds his way through the streets of New York on his way home from Pency Prep a private school in Pennsylvania, which he has flunked out of at Christmas time.

Although Holden curses at the world in a kind of Quixotic flailing, he befriends and protects each of the characters with whom he becomes involved. This befriending carries out the theme implied in the title that Salinger borrowed from the Robert Burns poem, "Comin' Thro' the Rye." Burns says, "If a body meet a body, need a body cry?" "If a body kiss a body, need a body cry?" Burns' heroine, Jenny, "meets and kisses" a body.

Holden, with a faulty view of reality, wants to "catch a body." He wants to keep everyone he meets from getting hurt by the phonies of the adult world. In the course of protecting the people he meets, Holden himself is often forced into a dishonesty, to if not more than, to himself.


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