The Catcher in the Rye is one of the half dozen books which I've read over a hundred times in the 30 or so years since I first encountered it. Being a troubled teenager when I read it, I identified with Holden, and when I became a writer, it was hard for me at first to shake Holden's narrative voice and find my own. I've studied the book to death, and read most of the critical books about it and its author, J.D. Salinger, but somehow everyone has focused on the book's language and Holden's teenage alienation, without ever getting their brains around the central point to the book. Holden Caulfield is a teenage boy who's lost his younger brother, Allie, and is terrified that something equally horrible might happen to his younger sister, Phoebe. All his obsessions -- the title of the book itself -- has to do with his inability to deal with the grief of his loss, his distrust of a universe that could do this, and his wish that he could wrap his arms around innocent children like his lost brother and protect them forever -- protect them from falling off a cliff as "the catcher in the rye.".