Catcher in the Rye - Phoniness and the quest for innocence.
Holden Caulfield is an adolescent boy who is preoccupied in preserving the innocence of children. He does not want to lose that innocence because that would mean that he would have to enter the adult world and become "phony." He believes that all adults are phony, but that they cannot seem to see their phoniness. He wants to remain a child, to keep that innocence that all children have. But he finds himself caught between the corruptedness of growing up, and the beauty of staying innocent. .
Holden is disgusted by the phoniness of life, but as he grows older, he sees more and more of the hypocrisy that the world has and he wishes that the world were free of that hypocrisy and phoniness. He believes that the only people who are not affected by the phoniness of life are children, because they are able to maintain their innocence. But he does realize that as they grow older, the innocence will diminish and they will, sooner or later, become phony. .
The only times that Holden is purely happy are when he is dealing with children, because they are uncorrupted. He wants to preserve the children's innocence, particularly his younger sister's, Phoebe. That is why he wants to be a catcher in the rye, so that he can prevent children from falling abruptly off the cliff of adulthood. He wants to catch those who are innocent before they grow up into corruption and adulthood. .
Holden only wishes to find trust and love, but every time he believes that he has found it, he is betrayed again, for example, the incident between him and Mr. Antolini. He trusted Mr. Antolini, yet that same person betrayed that trust by his seemingly homosexual pettings. Mr. Antolini was Holden's only "non-phony" adult that he could turn to. Although Mr. Antolini may have given Holden some good advice, the effects of the advice would be canceled as a result of his actions toward Holden.