The Catcher in the Rye Title Significance
The Catcher in the Rye is a title whose significance gradually becomes apparent as the novel progresses. Written by JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age novel in which the main character, Holden Caulfield, wishes to preserve the innocence of children. The title portrays and emphasizes this theme. Through the use of repetition, allusion, and contrast, Salinger develops the significance of the title The Catcher in the Rye.
Salinger uses repetition throughout this novel to emphasize the theme and the significance of the title. The author repeatedly brings up falling: some of the falls are real, some almost happen, others are imaginary. All of them involve both risk and pain. For instance, there are several points throughout the story in which Holden trips and comes close to falling. This usually happens when he tries to escape his emotions—like when he was running away from Pencey Prep before his parents find out he was expelled, as he was running down the stairs, Holden “damn near broke [his] crazy neck” when he tripped. At the end of the novel, when Phoebe stretches for the golden ring on the carousel, Holden thinks about the fact that she may fall. At this point in the novel, Holden realizes that children often do fall, but that it’s worth the risk as long as they stand back up. Also, with all the mentioning of falls, one can’t help but to think of the biblical fall from grace that Adam and Eve experienced, where they lost their innocence.
Allusions in Salinger’s novel are few, yet heavy in significance. The major allusion is to the poem Comin’ Thro’ the Rye by Robert Burns. Holden Caulfield hears a young boy singing this poem, but Holden misinterprets the words as “If a body catch a body, comin’ through the rye.” He later tells Phoebe of his dream to be the Catcher in the rye: he pictures a field of rye perched high on a cliff, full of children romping and playing; he says he would like to protect...