Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
St. Francis of Assisi once wrote, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by J. D. Salinger about a young man, Holden Caulfield, who manages to find a light throughout all his darkness.
Holden, the protagonist, explains to the readers throughout the novel that he attends many different schools either because he does not like the “phonies” in the school, or because he gets kicked out for flunking. Holden has an older brother named D.B. Caulfield, a younger sister named Phoebe Caulfield, and a deceased brother named Allie Caulfield. Although Holden is depressed and lonely most of the time, he feels hope when thinking of his sister and his brothers.
The reader’s notice that whenever Holden is alone, he always has the urge to call his younger sister because he knows she will make him feel better. Towards the end of the novel, Holden decides he will live in solidarity, but his mind is then changed by his younger sister. Throughout all of Holden’s loneliness and depression, he is able to withstand with the help of the light of his single candle, his little sister. Throughout the entire novel, all Holden Caulfield wants to have is a connection with someone. The problem with him is that he has entirely too high of standards and practically hates everyone he comes in contact with, with the exception of his little sister. He always talks about feeling lonely and wanting to hangout with someone, but he normally never actually does anything to make it happen.
He continually decides against most of his decisions about social interactions. Holden’s view of phonies makes it extremely hard for him to connect with anyone from his multiple schools, yet he wants to be friends with them anyway. After getting kicked out of his most recent school, Holden does not want to put any more aiding stress on his parents regarding his expulsion, so he heads to New York to waste time before going home. His time wandering around New York is fairly depressing not only for Holden, but for the readers as well. The readers can see just how lonely Holden is, and can see his longing for someone to be in his life by the way he calls up anyone he knows around the area. He then decides that he wants to be around his little sister, who he is very fond of.
Once he is with her, he gets very sentimental with her and becomes genuinely happy. Phoebe asks Holden to name just one thing he likes; this question is where the readers can understand just how the death of Holden’s brother has affected him because his first thought to this question is about his brother, Allie. The death of his brother is definitely a root of Holden’s loneliness and depression because he lost his brother at such a young age and just had to move on. Another response to this question that Holden mentions is that he wants to be a catcher in the rye, meaning he wants to direct people from falling off a cliff. This longing that Holden has for something so out of the ordinary shows just how much he wants to be needed and wanted around people. All of Holden’s darkness leads up to Phoebe illuminating her light to him when they are in the park together at the end of the novel; “I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth.
I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all” (Salinger 275). This quote proves that Holden’s darkness throughout the novel is extinguished just by being with his little sister. All she was doing was sitting on a carousel, yet Holden was the happiest he has ever been throughout the entire novel. All of the darkness and loneliness in Holden’s life was not enough to extinguish the light of the single candle that is Phoebe.
Although Holden has extremely high standards for the adults he would befriend throughout his life, his fourth grade little sister is the one to live up to his standards. Holden never quite found someone to make him feel genuinely happy, until he was with his little sister. Phoebe is able to light up the darkness of Holden’s world that is his depression and loneliness. Holden shows the readers that although he feels his world is full of darkness, one single light can turn all that darkness into light. This understanding that one light can extinguish all of the darkness in the world is one that many people should think about when feeling down or hopeless. Someone could feel as though they are walking down a tunnel filled with darkness, just like Holden, but notice a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, just how Phoebe was the light at the end of Holden’s tunnel.