The Catcher in the Rye In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace. This perception of the world does not change significantly through the novel. However as the novel progresses, Holden gradually comes to the realization that he is powerless to change this. During the short period of Holden's life covered in this book, "Holden does succeed in making us perceive that the world is crazy." 1 Shortly after Holden leaves Pence Prep he checks in to the Edmond Hotel. This is where Holden's turmoil begins. Holden spends the following evening in this hotel which was "full of perverts and morons.
(There were) screwballs all over the place." 2 His situation only deteriorates from this point on as the more he looks around this world, the more depressing life seems. Around every corner Holden sees evil. He looks out on a world which appears completely immoral and unscrupulous. The three days we learn of from the novel place a distressed Holden in the vicinity of Manhattan. The city is decked with decorations and holiday splendor, yet, much to Holden's despair "seldom yields any occasions of peace, charity or even genuine merriment." 3 Holden is surrounded by what he views as drunks, perverts, morons and screwballs. These convictions which Holden holds waver very momentarily during only one particular scene in the book.
The scene is that with Mr. Antolini. After Mr. Antolini patted Holden on the head while he was sleeping, Holden jumped up and ran out thinking that Mr.
Antolini was a pervert as well. This is the only time during the novel where Holden thinks twice about considering someone as a pervert. After reviewing Mr. Antolini, Holden finally concludes that maybe he wasn't making a "flirty" pass at him.
Maybe he just like patting guys heads as they sleep. This is really the only time in the novel where Holden actually considers a positive side This event does not constitute a significant change. As Holden himself says, "It's not too bad when the sun's out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out." 4 The sun of course is a reference to decency through the common association of light and goodness. His perception of the world remains the same. The one conviction that does change during the novel is Holden's belief that he can change the world. On his date with Sally, Holden reveals his feelings.
"Did you ever get fed up... I mean did you ever get scared that everything was going to go lousy unless you did something... ." 5 Holden goes through several plans. Holden at one point contemplates heading out west where he will pretend to be a deaf-mute and live a quiet life.
At another point Holden proposes to Sally to escape this world with him. It is finally to his younger sister Phoebe that Holden reveals his ultimate plan. Although Holden describes the situation in a very picturesque and symbolic manner he essentially tells Phoebe that he wants to prevent children from growing up. He blames the world's corruption on adults and believes that when he stops the children from growing up he will preserve their innocence and save the world. It takes most of the book before Holden begins to realize that he is helpless to stop this corruption. Finally, he realizes that not only is there nothing that he can do, but there is nowhere he can go to hide from it.
Holden takes awhile to comprehend these concepts. One good example is when Holden is delivering the note to his sister.