The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is a novel that expresses the loss of innocence adolescents are required to experience in their transition into adulthood. The book begins with the main character, Holden Caulfield, talking to what is later revealed to be a therapist about his life experiences since he got kicked out of yet another school because of his bad grades. At the very beginning of the book, Holden clarifies that he doesn’t want to say all that “David Copperfield crap”, alluding to Dickens books about Copperfield that went into extreme detail about every aspect of his life.
As the story progresses, we learn that Holden’s younger brother, Allie, died from leukemia. Ever since then, Holden has been almost obsessed with the idea that innocence must be preserved in children, even going to the extent of saying his dream job would be being the catcher in the rye. He explains the job description to be hundreds of kids running around on a field of rye and whenever one of the children nears the cliff, Holden reaches down and catches them. Another way he shows his need to contain innocence in children is through his little sister Phoebe. His constant control and protection over Phoebe shows Holden’s need to preserve innocence. However, at the very end of the book, Holden accepts the fact that innocence cannot be preserved and that you must let children grow from their mistakes.
All in all, the underlying themes and ideas in this book allow for a piece of great literature that I greatly recommend. However, it should be targeted for more mature audiences because of certain scenes in the book. Although it is a generally censored book, that should not stop you from reading it because the questionable scenes all contain underlying messages that only add the book and it helps us get a better understanding of the book. In the end, The Catcher in the Rye should be a book on everybody’s reading list.