Holden Caufield Vs. Robert Frost Essay, Research Paper
Holden Caulfield, from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye, and Robert Frost, in his poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” have very similar views on certain prospects of life. Frost shows the same perspective as Holden Caulfield. For example, both Caulfield and Frost want beautiful thing to last forever. They both protest the mutability of time. Lastly, they both want to hold on to innocence. In short, you could say that both Holden Caulfield and Robert Frost have a desire to be a “catcher in the rye”.
Both Frost and Caulfield have the desire for beautiful things to last forever. Holden Caulfield recalls a time when he and Jane were younger, they would be playing checkers, and Jane would refuse to move her kings from the back row. It wasn’t any kind of a strategy, nor was it for any particular reason, besides the reason that Jane just happened to like the way they look back there. “She wouldn’t move any of her kings. What she’d do, when she’d get a king, she wouldn’t move it. She’d just leave it in the back row. She’d get them all lined up in the back row. Then she’d never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were in the back row.” (Salinger, 31-32)Another example is when Holden is watching Phoebe go around and around on the carousel. He sees this moment as a beautiful thing that he wants to preserve. Robert Frost has the same idea when he says “Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold”. He’s saying that this first green of nature is so beautiful, but there is no way to hold on to it no matter how much you’d like to.
Both Caulfield and Frost protest the mutability of time. In Holden’s case, he enjoys going to the museum because it never changes. Everything has to stay the same. Holden likes how a single beautiful moment can be encapsulated behind glass, thus preserved forever. At the museum, a single moment is unaffected by time. Time stands still inside the walls of the museum. Year after year he can go back to the museum and he only thing that has changed is him. When Frost says that a “leaf subsides to leaf”, he’s describing how time passes and the leaves fall. He says “The early leaf’s a flower, but only so an hour”. He is suggesting that a beautiful flower is only as such for a short amount of time, only if we could stop the mutability, or passage, of time then everything would stay beautiful. Unfortunately we can’t, and that leaf still subsides to another leaf. No matter what, you can’t stop that leaf from changing. Similarly, as soon as you step outside the museum walls, time starts up again; it stops standing still and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Holding on to innocence is another common factor shared by Caulfield and Frost. Holden wants to preserve innocence. He doesn’t want anyone to make that transition from childhood to adulthood. Holden believes that when you become an adult you become phony. In addition to becoming phony, you lose everything that signifies your innocence. All in all, everything just changes. Holden finds innocence to be a beautiful thing and he wants beautiful things to last forever; he wants innocence to last forever. When Pheobe asks Holden what he wants to be, he replied that he’d like to be the catcher in the rye. He thus explains, “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’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.” (Salinger, 173) He wants to keep these children from falling over the cliff into adulthood. This fall signifies the fall or transition from childhood to adulthood. The sacrifice that must be made in such a transition is the loss of one’s innocence. Holden desperately wants to preserve this. Frost’s entire poem describes how nothing gold can stay, how “Nature’s first green is gold”, and how it’s “her hardest hue to hold”. He continues by saying, even the paradise of “Eden sank to grief” and the beautiful “dawn comes down to day”. Frost is saying that no matter what, nothing that is gold or precious can stay. So too with innocence, it is like gold because it is invaluable. According to Frost, nothing innocent can stay innocent forever, and there’s nothing to be done about it.
After all is said and done, both Robert Frost and Holden Caulfield share their views of wanting to preserve certain things. They both want to make beautiful moments last forever, they both try to stop time in its tracks, and lastly they both desire to hold on to innocence. All of these factors come together to undoubtedly prove that both Frost and Caulfield have a desire to be a “catcher in the rye”. They want to stop all of these transitions. They want to keep that gold that can’t stay, they want to keep that leaf from subsiding to another leaf, and they want to preserve that innocence. Being a “catcher in the rye” in a sense, would allow them to do just this.