Etymology and Symbolism of Characters' Names in Catcher in the Rye

1967 Words 8 Pages
The Etymology and Symbolism of Characters' Names in Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye's pallid cover, adorned only with seven multicolored bands in its upper-left corner, is not what one would call eye-catching. Its reverse side lacks criticisms or reviews of any sort; in fact, it is bare of anything except a copyright date. Human beings are advised not to judge books by their covers, rather that they should look further than the obvious and try to apprehend the implied meaning. The world has peered past Catcher in the Rye's cover, cracked its pure, uniform shell of cardboard and discovered the novel of a decade, a story that has now made the name "Holden Caulfield" synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Within the
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He is "Holden" back, not allowing himself to become a part of the ugliness he sees in virtually everyone. Chains of contempt for the world act as manacles that secure his superior attitude and ensure he will not become what he hates. The name "Holden" flawlessly portrays his inability to join society because of his high ideals for it. Caulfield, his last name, relates to recurring theme of childhood innocence. A "caul" is defined as a part of the amnion, one of the membranes enveloping the fetus, which sometimes is around the head of a child at its birth. The caul protects young children, just as Holden dreams to do when he tells Phoebe his ideal profession would be the catcher in the field of rye. Of course, the second section of his last name represents the field of rye. The few instants when Holden is genuinely happy and unaffected by his painful awakenings to the adult world deal with children, because he feels they are uncorrupted. Walking down the street in New York, Holden's rusted manacles of almost perpetual depression are unlocked when he sees a little boy singing "if a body catch a body coming through the rye." He criticizes his father, saying he wanted to appear "sharp" with the ratty hat he was wearing, and says neither parent was paying any attention to their son. He feels any adult has been demoralized, but will go to great lengths to come into any contact with a child. His perfect job, the
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