Salinger uses characterization to construct the development of the major theme. Holden Caulfield, the main character in the novel, has a cynical point of view towards the world. He cannot stand the corruption and hypocrisy of society. He especially hates “phones” and tries hard to resist becoming one. The adult world becomes his enemy: he is disgusted with its cruelty and corruption. He admires people who are innocent. Allie is Holden’s ultimate symbol of innocence. She was always sweet and “never [got] mad at anybody” (50). She died at an early age so she never had to be exposed to the ugly world and lose her innocence. Although Holden is obsessed with the perseverance of innocence, he slowly finds himself drifting into the adult world. He becomes attracted to the very aspect of life that he wanted to keep away from the innocent children. Holden is immature and unrealistic at the beginning of the book. He wants to prevent natural events from occurring. But as the novel progresses, he slowly becomes more mature
Finally, late at night, Holden goes home. His parents are out for the evening, and he spends some time talking with his ten-year-old sister, Phoebe, with whom he was always very close. Phoebe expresses her disappointment with Holden’s being expelled from school, and brother and sister talk at length about what Holden truly believes in and what he will do with his life. Holden tells Phoebe of his idealistic vision of being a “catcher in the rye,” protecting innocent children from disaster. He imagines children playing in a field of rye and himself catching them whenever they are in danger of falling over a cliff. He avoids seeing his parents on their return home and goes to see a former teacher, Mr. Antolini, from whom he intends to seek advice.