"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Introduction to Fiction
23 February 2017
The Catcher's Fall
Often times a person might say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" in regards to coping with a difficult situation or experience in life. Another way to describe this phrase is a fortunate fall. A fortunate fall is derived from biblical times when humankind fell from God's graces. In the end, this fall turned out to be for the best because mankind learned to appreciate God's grace. In the novel, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, protagonist Holden Caulfield faces a series of chain events throughout the critical development period of his life that lead him to his fortunate fall which occurred when he was admitted into a mental hospital.
Holden's fortunate fall comes in 3 events. The first fall occurs when his brother dies making him realize the world is a harsh place. His brother Allie, was two years younger than Holden, had fiery red hair, and died of leukemia at a young age. Holden recalls his brothers death which is the first trigger or fall that he takes in his life. "I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it" (Salinger 61). This event is the first to steal Holden's youth away from him. He starts to see a dimmer more harsh world soon after his brother's passing.
The next part of Holden's fall is when he gets kicked out of Pencey. He sees are "phonies" all around him and that just bothers him beyond measure. This part of his fall is important because if he never would have gotten kicked out of school he may never have come to his final conclusion that the world is a broken place. At Pencey his mental state demises and he loses all motivation and that is why he failed college and is confused at what to do in his life.
The last, and final part of his fortunate fall comes when he is in the mental hospital and he talks about the children in his dream. "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all...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. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all"(Salinger 253). Holden realizes he doesn't have control of all the situations around him. He sees the children running off the cliff and he realizes that he doesn't enough control to save them all. This is the fortunate part of his fall because he is finally realizing that he can't undo all the wrongs in the world.Holden learned from his fall that the world was a pretty terrible place and he couldn't do anything about it. The whole novel he tries so hard to control every situation that he is in, but finally it concludes the novel with him finally "loosening the reins" on his life. From this fall the author was trying to get readers to realize the same epiphany as Holden. The world can be awful and as a person it's hard to change how others think and feel. J. D. Salinger's purpose for the book was to try and get readers to think about the protection of innocence and that was Holden's goal as well. Holden cares deeply about younger children, mostly because of his younger sister Phoebe. This is a reason he longs for the world to be so perfect. He wants to see her grow up in a place where she can be happy. He has a soft spot for children because he understands their innocence and believes that the evil world has not yet been revealed to them yet.
The Catcher in the Rye is a controversial book and is studied by many for its thick and layered plot. Holden Caulfield can sometimes be misunderstood because of his pessimistic outlook on life. Holden experiences what is called a fortunate
View Full Essay