Homework Help

From J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, how does Holden's role as "the Catcher"...

user profile pic

cosmicarcata | eNoter

Posted November 25, 2012 at 9:36 PM via web

dislike 2 like

From J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, how does Holden's role as "the Catcher" relate to his view of his purpose of life as described on page 173?

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around--nobody big, I  mean--except me.  And I'm standing on the edge of somee crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going.  I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.  That's all I'd do all day.  I'd just be  the catcher in the rye and all.  I know it's crazy" (173).

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:41 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

As Holden seems to describe it, and through using inference based on the metaphorical evidence presented in the passage, he sees himself helping others from getting distracted and then making poor choices about their lives. This is ironic because he can't seem to make the right choices for himself, but he sees the faults in others.  For example, he sees his older brother working in Hollywood as a writer, but feels like that career choice is a waste of his brother's real talent. With this example, Holden would tell his brother to leave Hollywood and focus on a real, more authentic career as a literary author. Sadly, Holden can only see how others are "distracted" and throwing themselves off of metaphorical cliffs of life, but he can't see the damage he is doing to himself. He also can't see how quickly and easily he is distracted. One minute he's thinking about doing something and the next minute he's doing something completely different. Holden has no direction in his own life, but he feels like his ideas on life and "phoniness" are more helpful to others than to himself. Holden certainly has a "Savior mentality" for others rather than himself.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes