Holden wanted to be the catcher in the rye. Holden wanted to catch children before they fell off the cliff and realized how the world really is, the world is disappointing. He wanted to keep children innocent and pure. There are several quotes and examples to support this in Catcher in the Rye like when the kid was singing in the park of Radio City, the school scene, Allie’s death and Holden’s rage over Allie’s death. Allie’s death helps make Holden’s decision about wanting to be a catcher in the rye.
Holden wished he could have caught Allie before he fell off the cliff and died. Holden wanted to save Allie to catch him before it was too late. The night of Allie’s funeral Holden smashed every window in his garage with his fists. Holden tried smashing the windows on the car but his fists were too badly injured to do it. Holden went to the hospital bleeding during Allie’s funeral. Holden did not attend his brother’s funeral, so that he would not have to completely let go of Allie. Holden was changed so much by his brother’s death, Allie’s death.
Holden often talks to himself, like Allie was still right next to him, thinking he is having a conversation with Allie. This shows Holden has unresolved issues of Allie’s death, that he has not gotten over it yet. Holden never goes to Allie’s grave, to see his tombstone. Thinking that if he never goes to see him, Allie death would never have really taken place in Holden’s mind, kind of like hear no evil, see no evil. Holden watches Phoebe ride on the carousel, turning and turning on it, and thinks “so damn happy all of a sudden”.
This recreates the pattern of the catcher in the rye story” writes Malcolm Bradbury. Holden, the protective, watcher observes Phoebe’s happiness of childhood. Holden realizes that children are born innocent. Much like Adam and Eve in the Bible, both were innocent until coaxed into eating the fruit of knowledge from the tree by the snake of evil, in the Garden of Eden. God told them not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge but Adam and Eve wanted to be as smart as God. To punish Adam and Eve, God made the fruit get stuck in their throats and give them sin.
After that Adam and Eve started wearing clothes because they were no longer innocent. Children in Holden’s mind are innocent when they are young and he wants to save them so the children will stay innocent forever so they wouldn’t have to face reality. Holden tells Phoebe what he would like to do “If [he] had his own god dam choice”“. Holden tells Phoebe about that song he misheard from the little kid in the park in Radio City, “If a body catch somebody coming through the rye”. Holden pictures all these little kids running around a field and him being the only adult around.
And if any kids were running around with out watching where they are going, he would catch them before they fell off the cliff and hit the harsh reality of how the world really is, sad, disappointing and lonely in Holden’s mind. While he was at Phoebe’s school “[Holden] saw something that drove him crazy. Someone had written ‘Fuck You’ on the wall. (Salinger 201) Those two little words, drove him “…damn near crazy”. All Holden could think about is how the little kids in the school would have seen it and wondered what it meant.
Then some dirty kid would tell the little kids and the little kids would have been changed forever by those two little words. Holden rubbed the message on the wall off, hoping nobody saw him doing it so they would not think that he wrote it on the wall. He tried protecting the children from vulgar language, to keep them innocent. I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another “Fuck you” on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again. (Salinger 202) Holden tried rubbing the words off the wall, so the children would not see it but the words were etched in to the wall.
Holden realizes even if he had a million years he could not erase half the “fuck you”s in the entire world. That him only being one man could only do so much, by himself. At the end of the novel, “Holden crosses over a line of innocence to experience… he learns that ‘you can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any'” Malcolm Bradbury criticizes. Holden wanted to find a place so good and innocent that there would not be a need for him to be the catcher in the rye. And that he must grow up and perceives the world in a different way.