For my summer reading, I chose to read Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. I decided to do my essay on the themes of the story. The only problem was, I couldn’t think of any. After reading the book twice, and still coming up without any, I decided to do some research on the web. I found out what some of the themes are, and now they make sense to me. There were four major themes that ran throughout the story. One of the major themes in Catcher in the Rye is the preservation of innocence. Holden believes that the children are almost perfect in the way that they are truthful, innocent and not “phony.
They (children) never try to impress others by being something other than themselves. They rely on adults and have little or no responsibilities, but are open to learning and the truth. Another theme is the development of maturity. Holden slowly matures throughout the novel, finally growing up in the park at the carousel. When people mature, they lose the innocence of childhood and become trapped between childhood and adulthood (phoniness). They start to accept responsibilities for their actions, but they try to change themselves to impress others.
They put on phony airs, and are less open to learning. Holden sees adults as people who have given in to society and become something they’re not. Adults think that they are always right, because they have conformed to the norm. There are certain responsibilities and ideals that adults are expected to have. In reaching these, they become phony and untrue to themselves and others. Holden wants to hold on to the innocence and truth of youth, and this means not becoming one of the phony adults he despises.
Reality and truth are things that are not easily recognized or explained. Holden knows this and has learned that the recognition of these concepts is different in young people and adults. Holden wants to preserve the innocence of children because he sees children as the only people who are able to see the truth behind the illusions of the world. Children are still discovering new things and are open to learning, while adults do not learn, but conform and therefore can’t discern between reality and illusion.