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The Catcher in the Rye: Falling
Transcript of The Catcher in the Rye: Falling
When Phoebe asks Holden what he likes, the only thing that he could think about was James Castle, a boy from Elkton Hills who jumped out of a window.
Through the Window...
What about Holden's own fall?
When Holden stays at his house, Mr. Antolini goes into great detail on exactly the type of fall that Holden is headed towards.
The Kids are Falling!
Besides the idea of the rye field, kids falling is a common motif in this book. One example is when Holden explains how kids always fall off of carousels while trying to reach the gold ring.
The Fear Itself: How Paranoia Overcomes Holden
The Catcher in the Rye: When the Fall Ends
Mr. Antolini says, "This fall I think you're riding for- it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling." (187)
"All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them." (211)
At various times throughout the book, Holden periodically states that he's so depressed he wants to jump out the window.
When trying to sleep in Ackley's room, Holden says, "It just drove me stark staring mad when I thought about her [Jane] and Stradlater parked somewhere in that fat-assed Ed Banky's car. Every time I thought about it, I felt like jumping out the window." (48)
After getting beat up by Maurice, Holden says, "What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would've done it, too, if I'd been sure somebody'd cover me up as soon as I landed." (104)
"He was a skinny little weak-looking guy, with wrists about as big as pencils. Finally, what he did, instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window. I was in the
and all, and even
could hear him land outside." (171)
Could James Castle have something to do with Holden's frequent urges to jump?
Holden's Dream: The Catcher in the Rye
"Anyway, 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
them. That's all I'd do all
day. I'd just be the catcher in
the rye and all." (173)
But, Holden actually remembered this song when he heard a boy singing it while walking down the street. The boy was teetering on the sidewalk, as if he was almost about to fall off...
"The kid was swell. He was walking in the street, instead of on a sidewalk, but right next to the curb. He was making out like he was walking a very straight line, the way kids do, and the whole time he kept singing and humming. He was singing that song, 'If a body catch a body coming through the rye.'... The cars zoomed by, brakes screeched all over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking next to the curb and singing 'If a body catch a body coming through the rye." (115)
When he talks to Phoebe, we find out that Holden's dream is to catch kids from falling off the edge of a rye field, like in a song he heard.
At the end of the book, Holden is willing to accept that kids will fall no matter what, which shows that he does, in fact, grow.
It is a strong possibility that Holden wants to catch kids to prevent them from falling the way he fears that he, himself, will.
A Minor Slip-Up...
When searching for ducks at the lagoon, Holden actually physically slips and almost falls into the water.
"I walked all around the whole damn lake- I damn near fell
once, in fact- but I didn't see a single duck. I thought maybe if there
any around, they might be asleep or something near the edge of the water, near the grass and all. That's how I nearly fell in. But I couldn't find any." (154)
Near the end of the book, Holden's unconscious fear of falling has become so intense that he cannot even cross the street without being afraid.
"Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again." (199)
By Noah Stanton