As we pass through this life it is our duty to discover our destiny. Some of us go to college and become Doctors, Lawyers, Architects. Others of us cherish the finer things in life and find our places on farms and Dude Ranches. The point is, every living creature has a place in this world and we are ultimately steered in its direction. Holden Caulfields voyage began when his brother died of Leukemia. Holden was emotionally destroyed by the loss of not only his brother, but his best friend also. The fact that his parents couldnt accept Holdens pain and that they even sent him to a shrink for it, proved to Holden that his parents didnt care as much as they were supposed to.
As Holden grew up, he found himself flunking out of school after school, never being able to stay in one place. This calamity was caused by either his overwhelmingly powerful hatred for people or because there was a conflict of interest between him and the school itself, about who they were trying to make him. Holden was also starting to view people as who they really were. Many of us in this world accept people at face value and never really take the time to see through the infinite masks that make up a personality, or a first impression. Holden however, took the time to understand who a person really was, and how fake they really were being. This changed his life enormously, as it would anybodys, because as soon as he could understand how much of a phony a person was being and who they truly were, he didnt have to feel inferior, scared or cast out by that person.
I think these views of life could have actually been caused by his brothers death. I think that when his brother died, his parents might have become phonies themselves. You must understand that when a parent loses one of their own creations they feel as if they have lost a part of themselves and cannot strive to go on. I think many parents find it easier to conceal their feelings inside of themselves, thus becoming what Holden could view as a phony. He didnt understand why his parents had to bottle it all up (which he thinks is wrong) and why he was almost punished for expressing his feelings freely (which he feels is the right thing to do). I believe that this is what led him to hate phonies and people in general.
As Holden reaches the eighteenth year of his life, he flunks out of yet another school. This time it is Pency prep, an all boys school with a top of the line PR. No matter how educationally advanced people think Pency is, Holden knows its no better than any other school. He hates the school and he hates most of the people in it, and when he leaves, he knows twenty years from now he wont regret it.
Holden becomes a traveler among the streets; he searches for a place in the world and is depressed when he cannot find one. But his place slowly comes to him one day on a lowly street corner. Holden Caulfield sees a very young boy walking along the curb singing The Catcher in the Rye, and as the sad song flows into his ears, his destiny becomes apparent. Holden sees himself spending his life in a gigantic rye field full of thousands of kids, he watches over those children and if they start to fall off the cliff hidden at the edge of the rye, he would catch them and save them.
The Catcher in the Rye is a complex and intriguing analogy for life itself, the rye being life and the kids are, well, kids. They arent to the stage yet where they have to worry about things and they have an unbelievable future ahead of them. But if they lost someone or something that they built their world around, or if something happened that changed their life dramatically, then they would fall off the cliff hidden within the rye. Once they fell off that cliff, they would quit trying to make their future the best possible and ultimately end up in the same position as Holden. Thats why he must save them.
Holden thinks that all you need to have to become successful is a responsibility, not a nice car or an office job, just a life and a responsibility. Some people think that this is crazy, but I have to agree with Holden. I would much rather live my life in a small cottage tucked away in the forest, without the burden of worrying about what the worlds doing. College, a job, the things that seem to make life pleasurable but only destroy you in the end wouldnt matter to me. It is a life that people stuck in high school will never be able to live. Holdens escape gave him the opportunity to live this life, but his destiny caught up with him, he must fulfill his responsibility first.
Holden carries out his responsibility to the world when he visits his sister Phoebe. She finds out he is leaving and because she loves him so much (the way Holden loved his brother) she wants to come with him. When he refuses to let her come she decides that she will quit school and leave home, she decides to quit trying. Holden discovers that his sister is going over the cliff hidden in the rye, like Holden did when his brother died. It dawns on him that he must save his sister before she becomes someone like him, someone that has quit trying. Holden takes her to the carousel and convinces her that he does love her and that she will never lose him, he gives her what his brother never gave him, the assurance of everlasting love. The power of that promise kept Phoebe from going over that cliff in the rye.
If someone sees Holden as one that never accomplished anything, then they are terribly wrong. Holdens ability to see through the shrouds and barriers that people build around themselves, and the concept of life being about responsibility and not about houses, money or popularity; are accomplishments that only the best of people can make. Holden Caulfields life should never be shunned from society like it has been in the past, instead it should be taught to teenagers in hopes that they will make the correct decisions about life, and that they will find their responsibility also.