The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger explores a range of themes, which you can read about on the following pages:


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

While he fears growing up, Holden seems to be aware that he is no longer a child. This is why he assumes the role of the protector of innocence when he tells Phoebe that he wants to metaphorically save children who are in danger of falling off a cliff: 

I keep picturing all these little 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 some 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 (…) I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. (p. 186)

Holden views himself as a protector of innocence, an image which might be associated...

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