Catcher In The Rye Analysis
Average adolescence is a perpetual wave of emotions and expression; however, when one reads the story of soon-to-be adult Holden, it is an emotional wreck of a roller coaster. The Catcher in the Rye introduces readers with an opportunity to investigate deeper hidden meanings behind characters,symbols, and the stories structure. Analyzing this story will allow one to see Holden’s true personality, major growth, and dismal tone.
When studying complex components of the story, such as Holden, the structure of the essay provides a deeper investigation. One of the pieces of this structure, symbols, allow one to look into his most evident personality traits. The point of view and tone create a description of what is truly going on in Holden’s head. Once grasped, this can allow one with understanding the foreshadowing of constantly used phrases of him “being crazy” and everything being “depressing”. Altogether, these three key elements depict the true plot of the story. The first person narrative of Holden is a fluctuating experience of unreliable opinions, flashbacks, and personal stories. The way Holden describes his life and surroundings make them seem over exaggerated, possibly even not true. Considering Holden even stated in the text “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life”, it is very plausible for one to assume that everything said is completely fabricated. Although it can be believed that everything is made up, it is also possibly Holden misinterpreting his own experiences. For example, when Holden claims to drink a bottle of scotch and then proceeds to throw up only because he decided to. This shows readers that Holden makes himself believe something other than what is truly happening. These unreliable events allow one to see how the story being told from his perspective gives a larger insight on Holden. Additionally, the symbols in the story provide extra understanding for readers when analyzing Holden.
The red hunting hat can be analyzed as a defense mechanism for Holden. When in uncomfortable situations, he uses this hat to confide in his embarrassment. In the text it states, “I took my red hunting hat put it on—I didn’t give a damn how I looked. ”. This can prove that the hat creates unique image Holden wants. In addition to the hat, the museum can also be analyzed as a symbol for Holden to halt his fast life, due to the fact that it takes him back to when he was an innocent child. When Holdens explains that he feels that “Certain things. . . you ought to be able to stick in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone”. This would allow one to believe he is wishing that innocence, perhaps in children, could be boxed up and never tainted, similar to the Indians in the museum. These symbols can allow readers to understand Holden’s want to keep innocence and common anti-social tendencies. Likewise, the multiple ironic situations of Holden’s line of thinking and lifestyle shape him as a character and can allow the reader to understand him in a more in-depth way. One the most preeminent situations of the story is Holden’s common use of defining everyone around him as a phony can seem peculiar to readers, considering he falls into this category of “phoniness” as well. One example would be when he goes on a date with Sally and tell her he loves her, when in reality, he sees her as nothing but a nice friend. Another ironic situation would be Holden’s perception of life being simply either black or white. In the story, he sees all children as practically angels, but adults as major sinners. Holden even goes on to call his own brother a “prostitute” for continuing his career in Hollywood. This shows readers that he believes you can only be engulfed in innocence or a sadistic sinner; however, Holden himself endures innocence in his own mind but does “sinful” things, such as lying, drinking, and lust. These common ironic events can show the counterintuitive mind of Holden that allows a more broad understanding of him.
The tone of this story is solely based on Holden’s attitude. Which creates the dismal, judgemental, and unreasonable way of thinking. There are scarcely any occasions where he positively speaks of another person. Throughout the narrative, Holden claims everything around him as “depressing” or “phony”. Holden even goes on to say “The minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I’d come. It was pretty depressing. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe. ”. This repetitive use of negatively connotative words is used throughout, and shows readers his attitude in all aspects of life. Additionally, his use of everything being considered “phony” goes to show readers his mindset on the people around him. In the story when Holden explains Elkon Hills, it states “. I was surrounded by phonies. That’s all. . . Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. . . give them a phony smile. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy”. This shows one that Holden has a judgemental view on everyone he comes across. This negative way of thinking was used by the author to show how Holden’s dark mindset shapes him as a character. Holden’s internal conflicts continuously contradict themselves. Throughout the story, he attempts to circumvent the realities of him soon having adult responsibilities by being an innocent child forever. Although he wants a pure lifestyle, he cusses and drinks on essentially every page. This concept leaves readers perplexed as to what style of living Holden truly wants.
These three structure-building elements, once together, practically create the whole story. Without these, Holden would be even harder to understand than he already is, and the true meaning of the story would be lost. In majority of the book, Holden has the belief that he can save everyone from impure lives and allow them to be innocent. In the story, he claims that he wants to be a “catcher in the rye” and save everyone. Later on, Holden soon comes to the realization that his perfect world truly just does not exist. He explain in the story, “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you just have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but its bad if you say anything to them,”. This shows readers that Holden’s point of view on saving everyone has changed, and he has grown to accept the fact that not everyone can be saved. The overall change in character of Holden can be seen as an overall relief to readers. His sudden realization of his unrealistic standards of needing to save everyone from the brink of breaking innocence is a sign of progression towards maturity. Him being able to understand that it is merely impossible to save everyone allows a broader understanding for him when it comes to reality. All things considered, when trying to understand the maturity change in Holden, one also needs to understand the reasoning behind the structure of the novel, thus tying both concepts together. The Catcher in the Rye is a complex story that, without the understanding of the hidden meaning behind concepts, would be impossible to decipher.
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