The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye: How Does Internal Conflict Completely Take Over One’s Life?
In the book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield’s life is consumed by the battle going on inside himself. J. D Salinger writes of a young man, whose childhood experiences have led him into a deep hole of grief. Holden tries to suppress his misery with a dislike towards most everything. In the beginning of the book he relies on the “falsity” of others to continue his unsatisfying lifestyle, he later realizes he may also be a contributor to the falsity as well. As the people surrounding him lose hope, he continues to lash out and push people away because nobody can hurt you if you don’t let them, right? Holden’s actions betray more and more of the“madman” that he claims to be. The internal and external conflict of Holden Caulfield may only be resolved when allows himself to move forward with his life and let’s go of his harsh judgments of himself and others.
“One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That’s all… I can’t stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills”. Holden continues to get kicked out of schools. His loathing toward “phonies” leads to isolation and self-destruction. He’s so unhappy with himself he goes on to create conflict to prevent himself from moving forward after the death of his brother Allie. His harsh view of everyone surrounding him displays his fear of rejection and being emotionally hurt. While at the lavender room, he sees three older women, after not being able to get drink at the bar, he decides to ask them to dance. Before he has even said anything to them, he’s already decided they are unworthy of his time. “They probably thought I was too young to give anybody the once-over. That annoyed the hell out of me… I should’ve given them the freeze”. He feels threatened after they laugh at him, and begins making several excuses why it doesn’t matter to comfort his fear of being rejected.
Holden often shows the same behavior as many of the “phonies” he claims to resent. Holden meets Ernest Morrow’s mother, a boy he describes as, “doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey”. Despite his great distaste for Ernest he indulges her. “Old Mrs. Morrow didn’t say anything, but boy you should’ve seen her. I had her glued to her seat. You take somebody’s mother, all they want to hear about is what a hot-shot their son is. Then I really starting chucking the old crap around”. He tells her what a wonderful boy Ernest is, for his own amusement. Although Holden claims to hate phonies, he exhibits the exact traits he describes a phony to have. He is insincere, and only presents his charming self for his own benefit.
“Then I went over and laid down on Ely’s bed. Boy, did I feel rotten. I felt so damn lonesome”. Holden keeps pushing people away because they fall short of his expectations, but continues to feel lonely. He’ll only reach out to people when he’s feeling bad for himself. He only displays his loneliness when nobody is paying attention. He stays with Ackley despite his dislike for him because it comforts him. “While I was changing my shirt, I damn near gave my kid sister Phoebe a buzz, though. I certainly felt like talking to her on the phone. Somebody with sense and all. But I couldn’t take a chance on giving her a buzz”. Holden begins running out of people to turn to, his unforgiving critic eliminates the phonies, but doesn’t leave him many people to fall back on. He wants to reach out to somebody, and his sister is one of the few that won’t reject him. Even though he desires someone to give him some relief, he often hesitates out of the fear of being hurt.
A Sophisticated Character Of Holden Caulfield
The Catcher in the Rye: A Coming of Age
In literature, a character’s unique perspective on common human experiences can both engage the reader, on experiences that are common to humanity engages the reader and vastly contribute contributes vastly to a text’s endearing value and significance. J.D Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ was written after WWII and takes place set in 1950’s New York City during the 1950’s. As one of the most memorable and important novels of the 20th century, The Catcher in the Rye This is a unique and highly valued text that captures the distinctive voice of a young man:, Holden Caulfield, who is struggling with issues of both personal identity, his identity and his unresolved grief, as he transitions is transitioning from childhood to adulthood. The textbook offers a rich portrayal of such themes as the impact of alienation as a form of self-preservation, as well as the resistance of to change, and the psychological effects of unresolved grief. By telling the story directly through the first-person narration of Holden Caulfield Through the opulent rendering of this bildungsroman, Salinger offers an unusually in-depth emotionally complex perspective of an emotionally complex character, who is struggling to find his place in the world. Unlike many coming of age stories, the reader of Salinger’s novel is left with a strong sense that Holden will continue to struggle with the protective wall of bitterness around him, as he is caught between holding onto the past and freeing himself from his anguish so that he can move onwards towards adulthood and personal growth. Although the themes explored in The Catcher in the Rye are common to the human condition, the perspectives offered by Holden are unique and it is the distinctive style of his narrative that ensure this text remains an esteemed piece of literature.
The Catcher in the Rye is a venerated literary piece that comprehensively explores the psychological repercussions of alienation as a form of self-protection and consequently were able to gain insight into Holden’s unique perspective through his reception to the common human encounters he has throughout the novel. The most compelling symbol of Holden’s disconnection is the red hunting cap. He wears it when he wants to feel independent, separated and protected. Salinger captures Holden’s building emotions through the use of short sentences and polysyndeton which creates emotional amplification as Holden is leaving yet another school. “When I was all set to go when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs…I was sort of crying. I don’t know why. I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it…” A motif from the novel is loneliness which is a direct manifestation of Holden’s alienation and to him, it is a source of both pain and protection. However, his loneliness has a destructive consequence on his mental health and therefore he suffers from great mental instability that we assume becomes debilitating for him later on. From the very beginning of the novel, we can see that he is isolated “The reason I was way up on Thomsen Hill, instead of down at the game…The whole team ostracized me the whole way back on the train. It was pretty funny in a way.” Salinger has created a very sophisticated and realistic voice that captures the struggles of not only our protagonist but all of humankind. Holden is using a passive voice and sardonicism to deny the pain he feels from his alienation and it is this reaction to his marginalization that provides a powerful insight into Holden’s perspective.
The resistance to change is a central theme of the novel that is explored thoroughly through the eyes of our protagonist who is very much trapped in the past. Holden has an idealistic view of childhood and associates all things that are bad or corrupt with adulthood. However, we are able to see that Holden’s struggles against growing up only cause him distress. Throughout the novel, we see that Holden is constantly drawn to things that are unchanging or cyclical because of his desire to remain innocent. The most notable example of this is when he is pondering about the ducks in Central Park Lagoon. “You know those ducks in the lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you know where they go? The ducks, when it gets all frozen over?” Salinger uses a rhetorical question to show Holden’s youthful immaturity. The ducks and the pond are symbolic of Holden’s concerns for the future and his ideas and the pond being half frozen represents Holden’s current state: adolescence, He is halfway between adulthood and childhood. It is also important to note that throughout the novel, whenever Holden thinks about the ducks his maturity levels have augmented since the last time. Salinger’s use of allusion to the poem by Robert Burns, ‘Comin’ thro the Rye.’ emphasizes Holden’s desire to protect the innocent and he fancies himself a ‘catcher’ to ‘catch’ all the children as they fall down the cliff to adulthood. This quote is also ironic because the poem itself is about two people meeting in a field to have sex, a very adult activity that Holden most definitely not approve of. “‘Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in the rye and all. Thousands of little kids and nobody’s around – nobody big I mean – except me… What I have to do is catch everybody if they start going over the cliff…” Holden’s desire to protect innocence and resist change is depicted and investigated throughout the novel and we are shown that his resistance to change, no matter how good-natured it is, is only repressing Holden. He is unable to grow because of his resistance to change and this is made clear throughout the novel as Holden’s mental state become weaker.
The psychological impacts of unresolved grief are pervasive and extremely detrimental and the result of their damage on the psyche are explored in great detail through Holden’s perspective of the world. Much of Holden’s inner turmoil comes from the lack of closure he had from his brother’s death. From Holden’s unresolved grief regarding Allie, we can see that he struggles a lot with death and depression in general and we are shown this multiple times throughout the book. “I don’t even know what I was running for – I guess I felt like it. After I got across the road, I felt like I was sort of disappearing. It was that kind of crazy afternoon, terrifically cold and no sun out or anything…” This quote is important to the theme of unresolved grief because it reveals the fragility of Holden’s mental state. Salinger often uses a second-person address in the novel and this is to show us that Holden is trying to disconnect from his problems and emotions by addressing the reader. This also helps to make him feel less lonely. The personification of the “crazy afternoon” is a subtle nod to Holden’s damaging mental state. Throughout the novel, windows are symbolic of a transparent and fragile barrier that is keeping him from moving forward. “…because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don’t blame them. I really don’t… and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it.” This is a crucial part of the novel where Holden is revealing how much his brother really meant to him and how much his death affected him. The windows are mentioned often and symbolize a barrier between himself and the people and world around him. When he breaks all the windows he is trying to disconnect himself from the world and to move on from his grief he needs to open a window. The impacts of his unresolved grief are obvious and shown throughout the story as we see the world through his perspective and see his mental stability decline.
Conclusively a character’s unique perspective is fundamental to the reader’s connection to the story and insight into the thematic concerns. Salinger has very successfully created a sophisticated character with an unparalleled view on the world and because of the dexterous formation of this character and viewpoint, the reader is gifted with an excellent piece of literature that delves into the topical concerns about humanity and psychology.
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
It’s not very often that I fall in love with a book, but this book was quite different; hooked me for almost a week, and even now that I have completed reading it, I don’t seem to get the heck out of it. It is all because of this BASTARD!
Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year old teenager, who seems to be annoying, smart, rebellious, humorous all at the same time. I, in any way, do not intend to throw away some spoilers, because I am not in that mood to do so. I just want you to know that the whole book is the story that revolves around the three-day journey of this boy( protagonist), Caulfield( as you all know), who is thrown out of his school( Pencey Prep), basically because he has flunked out all of his subjects except English, in which he claims to be the ‘genius’.
I mean this sonuvabitch, Caulfield, is absolutely intriguing. It is just a heavenly feeling to watch his mind at work, and of course his goddam perspectives. Despite being written in 1951, most of the teenagers would be able to relate themselves to Caulfield. At times you will even find this bitch, very bizarre. Man! The only person he loves truly in this goddam universe is his sister, Phoebe. Really?
For starter, this book may just seem like a commonplace recollection of his three-day-journey from the narrator (that is Caulfield himself), where he gets to meet a lot of people, whilst he is underground in New York. But the writer of this classic American novel, J.D. Salinger, focuses on the themes heavier than this—teenage psychology; how the character makes irrational decisions at quite an often times, and how the people he has met in his past (by past I mean all his schools he has been to, which he claims to be filled with ‘phonies’), defines his action towards the people he meets in this journey.
What sets ‘The catcher in the Rye’ apart from other novels, is the frequent use of profanity (you buds must have seen how I have been affected from it). Alert! The excessive use of colloquialism makes the characters realistic, and also a lot easier to relate. With saying that, I cannot undermine the magnitude of themes–centred around the subject of morality.
I would strongly recommend every teenager, to read this book at least once in your life, and fall in love with this helluva crook, Caulfield. All because this book is so inspiring and all. But if you are an adult, please acquaint yourself properly with Caulfield from some reviews and all, because when this character gets in your head, you may have the urge to slap your helluva docile son.
Holden Caulfield and Antisocial Personality Disorder
Holden Caulfield is a youthful adolescent boy who appears to be detached from others around him as apparent in the novel. Holden is enduring from an introverted identity clutter called antisocial personality disorder which causes him to control, misuse, and abuse the right of others. Throughout the novel Holden struggles to be an ordinary young kid which result in him confronting numerous battles and deterrents. Holden sees the world as a fiendish and degenerate place where there is no peace. It shows up as Holden feels confined from everybody around the world. The more exposure Holden captures from the world the clearer it gets to be that he endures from a disorder.
The Inability to Apply Himself to the Environment
Throughout the novel, “Catcher in the Rye”, Holden appears to symbolize failure. In the beginning of the novel the audience is told that Holden Caulfield has been kicked out of Pencey private school. In the novel, it states, “He knew I wasn’t coming back to Pencey. I forgot to tell you about that. They kicked me out.” Pg. 4 Paragraph 1. Holden was kicked out of school in result of failing courses. He was unreliable and struggled to commit to school which is an illustration of the introverted identity clutter; antisocial social personality disorder. Holden was removed from two other schools prior to Pencey. Holden Caulfield did not like encompassing his self around imposter people which played a part in why he could not commit to any of these schools. If you are incapable of being social and applying yourself to your environment you have an issue.
Struggling to Control Himself
Furthermore, Holden Caulfield endured from hostility and viciousness causing him to come across numerous physical altercations. Holden got into a physical battle with a kid named Stradlater. In the novel, it states, “All I know is I got up from bed, like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddamn throat open.” Pg. 43 Paragraph 8. Holden was irate that Stradlater would not provide subtle elements about his date with Jane, a young lady he respected. His identity clutter activated him to hit Stradlater. Holden struggles to control his outrage which is a characteristic in which vexed individuals appear to battle with. Holden Caulfield cannot keep calm and talk out his issues. His solution to his issues is through savagery and brutality.
Not Caring about the Consequences
Holden Caulfield is a clear illustration of a person who cannot distain for authority rules and social conventions. All through the novel, it appears as Holden cares for no rules or guidelines set by society. In the novel, it states, “You weren’t allowed to smoke in the dorm, but you could do it late at night when everybody was asleep or out and nobody could smell the smoke. Besides, I did it to annoy Stradlater. It drove him crazy when you broke any rules. He never smoked in the dorm. It was only me.” Pg. 41 Paragraph 8. People who are careless will do things that they know aren’t supposed to be done. This is because they do not care about consequences. Holden did not care that smoking a cigarette in his dorm would affect other people. His concern was with himself and his satisfaction. This is another illustration of Holden Caulfield’s introverted identity clutter, antisocial personality disorder.
Holden struggles to fit into society because his disorder takes over him which does not make it easy for him to live an ordinary life. Antisocial personality disorder has taken a toll upon his life.
Demise, Social Dismissal, Misuse, Deserting in The Catcher in the Rye
The brain of a young person is an intricate organ that has different areas, each explicitly intended to manage a variety of various issues which that individual happens to experience. In spite of the fact that this is an exceptionally ground-breaking organ that is fit for dealing with plenty of various undertakings, it can bomb when seeked with a lot of issues in such a short measure of time. Along these lines, so as to figure out what’s going on with an individual, one must examine the occasions that would have the best toll on the human personality. With respect to the individual being a young person, the distinctive scope of occasions is limited considerably more.
In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is eminently influenced by death, social dismissal and misuse, and relinquishment. Passing is one of the most noticeably terrible occasions that an individual can have involvement in and for Holden’s situation, demise is exceptionally common. The most affecting thing that influences Holden is the demise of his sibling Allie. This is apparent when Phoebe asks Holden to name only one thing he prefers, to which he reacts ‘I like Allie.’ I said. Furthermore, I like doing what I’m doing well at this point. Staying here with you, and talking, and contemplating stuff’ (Salinger 11). Holden always makes reference to the amount he misses and cherishes Allie which lead him to decipher that Allie’s passing changes Holden in an extremely negative way. From what Holden notices to Phoebe, the peruser can likewise observe that he loves having the option to talk about and let out the majority of the emotions he has been holding in. Moreover, Holden’s stress over what befalls the ducks and fish in Focal Park during winter time demonstrates how demise has been a consistent worry in his psyche. His stress over death is likewise show when he makes reference to he needs to be a Catcher in the Rye to spare the children lives on the off chance that they tumble off the bluff.
The general public where Holden lives in has an incredible effect on him, in that he feels alone and mishandled. From the absolute first section in this book as far as possible, Holden is separated from everyone else, watching others having a fabulous time. His one of a kind character makes him a socially ungainly character, which is best found in his experience with the whore. Holden is likewise physically manhandled in this observed when he gets punched and later on in the novel by Mr. Anatoli. In Jenniffer Scuhuessler’s article, she makes reference to that ‘Holden would not have felt so alone on the off chance that he were growing up today. All things considered, Mr. Salinger was composing well before the ascent of a multibillion-dollar social diversion complex to a great extent obliging the flavor of high school young men.’ This is genuine on the grounds that during the mid-twentieth century, there was not actually a ‘standard’ for adolescent young men to pursue. Holden’s case is far more terrible since he was continually moving for an alternate school, always being unable to really settle down and mix in with different children. From the principal school Holden goes to he feels deserting, regardless of whether it was by his folks or from the children around him.
The deserting by Holden feels from his folks is solid to such an extent that the peruser hears almost nothing about them and when Holden says something it is normally negative. Lisa Privtera concurrence with this announcement is indicated when she says ‘Family has fizzled Holden. That is, all aside from his ten-year-old sister, Phoebe’. The steady dismissals Holden encounters, regardless of whether it is by the telephone or face to face, are unpleasant to such an extent that Holden can decipher them to the next individual being a ‘fake’. Towards the end of this novel, Holden fundamentally abandons attempting to battle relinquishment so he concludes that he will live out in the West isolated as a hard of hearing quiet.
Demise, social dismissal, misuse, and deserting negatively affect Holden, particularly since their belongings happen in the range of eight years. His ‘determination’ can best identify with the post-awful pressure issue that warriors face subsequent to coming back from war because of the likeness in side effects. The principal manifestation, terrified musings, is effectively noticeable towards the end of the novel when Holden addresses Allie on the grounds that he is frightened that he will vanish while crossing the road. The subsequent indication, hyper excitement, is available all through the whole novel and is the reason for Holden’s social dismissal. Furthermore, he is continually experiencing difficulty resting and is consistently in a furious state of mind. In conclusion, lack of concern and evasion are pervasive as Holden is distant from everyone else a lot of the novel notwithstanding the thoughtlessness for his future.
Holden Caulfield: Becoming an Adult
It takes several experiences, life lessons, mistakes, and decisions for an immature child to develop into a mature, well-rounded adult. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, the main character, matures throughout the novel. In the beginning, Holden is an immature teenager. By the end, Holden is able to learn some lessons, somewhat mature, and see the reality of life. Holden Caulfield represents coming of age in adulthood when he lets go of his childhood innocence, in family when he stops running from his problems and is honest about Pencey Prep, and in his career when he decides to go back to school and build a future for himself.
Fear of Changing into an Adult and Coming to Terms with It
In the beginning, Holden struggles to transition from childhood to adulthood. He calls everyone ‘Phonies’ and believes that adults have composed a world full of lies. Holden is at a point in his life where it is expected of him to follow many more rules that include how to be a proper adult. Instead of being curious about his growth and the developing relationships around him, he tries to block out the adult world by not thinking about it and picturing a world in which nothing changes. For example, Holden describes his fear of changing into an adult when he visits the museum by saying, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move…Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you” (212). Holden is bothered by that fact every time he returns to the museum he has changed but the objects in the museum have not. Throughout the novel, Holden is forced to come to terms with his inevitable future of being an adult. By the end of the novel, Holden reaches a significant point in where he is seen to be letting go of his childhood. Holden is watching Phoebe on the carousel and Phoebe decides to reach for the gold ring. Holden says, “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it is bad to say anything to them” (211). This makes it evident that Holden is no longer worried about protecting her from falling off the carousel. Holden starts to understand that he cannot protect a child from falling from innocence, just as he and no one else can stop a child from falling off of the carousel; he cannot be the catcher in the rye and he cannot protect Phoebe’s innocence forever.
Responsibility and Worrying about the Future
Holden’s future and career do not look promising at the beginning of the novel. Holden is being kicked out of Pencey Prep because he is failing four out of his five classes; this is not the first prep school that he has been kicked out of, either. The thought of responsibility scares Holden and he avoids hard work. He equates his brother’s job to prostitution because he has no regard whatsoever for work or responsibilities. The fact that his brother D.B is a successful Hollywood script writer does not entice him in the least bit about the opportunities that adulthood offers. Holden does not seem to worry too much about his future. In a conversation between Mr. Spencer and Holden, Mr. Spencer starts off by saying;
‘Do you feel absolutely no concern for your future, boy?’
‘Oh, I feel some concern for my future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do.’ I thought about it for a minute. ‘But not too much, I guess. Not too much, I guess.’
‘You will,’ old Spencer said. ‘You will, boy. You will when it’s too late.’ (64-67).
This shows that Holden is not very concerned about what could happen to his future. By the end of the novel, Holden has matured a little bit and gives the reader hope that he will be continuing his education and building a future for himself. Holden says, “That’s all I’m going to tell about. I could probably tell you what I did after I went home, and how I got sick and all, and what school I’m supposed to go to next fall, after I get out of here…A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps asking me if I’m going to apply myself when I go back to school next September” (196). If anything, at least Holden has it in his plans to go back to school in the fall.
Relationship with Family
Throughout the novel, Holden’s relationships with his family are mentioned. His relationships with his siblings are mostly mentioned, but not much is mentioned about his parents aside from the fact that he calls his mom insane every once in a while. At first, Holden is afraid to go home and inform his parents that he has flunked out of Pencey prep and is being kicked out. Holden is immature and thinks running away from his problems will solve them. It is clear he does not have a great connection with his family and he decides to go to New York and partake in activities that are not the best for his well-being. He contemplates calling Phoebe, but he does not want his parents to answer the phone and figure everything out about Holden being kicked out of school. Holden says, ‘Well… they’ll be pretty irritated about it,’ I said. ‘They really will. This is about the fourth school I’ve gone to”. (22) This shows that he knows his parents will be upset and he does not want to tell them. By the end, even though he does not tell his parents, Holden is at least honest with Phoebe and tells her about being kicked out. If he were still immature, he would have never gained the courage and maturity to go to Phoebe and tell her what had happened.
In the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is a very immature boy who lacks in accepting that he will be entering adulthood, having a relationship with his family, and building a future and a career for himself. Through several experiences out on his own, Holden realizes that becoming an adult is inevitable, and he lets go of his dream to be ‘the catcher in the rye’ to protect the innocence of children. He opens his eyes and realizes that having an ‘I don’t care attitude’ about his life is going to get him nowhere and he decides to pursue school again and try to create a future for himself. Finally, he stops acting impulsive and running from his problems and tells Phoebe about being kicked out of Pencey Prep. Holden Caulfield was once a juvenile, careless, boy, but now, he has matured into a mature, young, man.
The Catcher in the Rye: The Normalcy of Holden Caulfield
Adolescence is defined as, “1: the period of life when a child develops into an adult : the period from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority. 2: the state or process of growing up. 3: a stage of development (as of a language or culture)” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Holden Caulfield in experiencing adolescence in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
As Caulfield narrates his story from a 17 year old perspective from a year before, he is depicted as a stable, typical adolescent although having experienced traumatic experiences. He is transitioning through maturity and experiencing drugs, alcohol, and finding his identity and purpose as would all teenagers. However, Holden is carrying the weight of his younger brother, Allie, on his shoulders which makes his experience distinct; thus, demonstrating that while adolescence is universal the experiences that define it are different for all. Salinger gives us insight into his unique experiences through character descriptions, experiences, and moral/ethical perspectives that confirm Caulfield’s navigating of the rocky waters of adolescence as a typical teenager.
Drinking, Smoking, and Failing Classes
Caulfield’s social development is defined in Catcher in the Rye through the socially normal experiences Holden has as listed by the American Psychological Association. Holden drinks, smokes, and is failing classes as will 25% of adolescents by the age of 17 (Developing Adolescents). He turns to these options not only because they help him cope with his emotions but also because they are socially frowned upon but understood. Although drinking and smoking underage is illegal because is morally incorrect, it is also something socially normal that forms a part of the universal definition of adolescence. Holden smokes daily and drinks to get wasted because he thinks no one cares for his health. It is a form of rebelling, he wants to give the impression of indifference as do all teenagers. Drinking and smoking provide an outlet for Allie’s death and he takes advantage because he lacks the social capacity to disperse that baggage through communication or a more healthy activity.
Formation of Identity
Though antisocial, Caulfield still shares descriptions of past and present acquaintances. He presents Jane to us in a very detailed way continuously repeating small details that one may deem unimportant such as her placing of pieces on the checkerboard. Although he has not seen her years, he holds onto their memories with such fondness and remembers them vividly. In contrast, he swings between liking his roommates at Pencey Prep: Stradlater and Ackley. His opinions of these two vary often, but they are observed from distant facets of the friendship. For example, he likes how Stradlater is cool and nice to him [Holden] but dislikes him strongly because of the treatment he gives girls. Ackley is presented to us as slow but then as likable. Holden is trying to define his identity and find a balance among the right vs. wrong dilemma teenagers battle. The formation of his identity can be observed upon his moral and social perspectives of friends.
Ability for Deeper Cognitive Thinking
Another thing that deems Holden psychologically normal is his ability for deeper cognitive thinking. He gives us his opinions on critically acclaimed necessities such as school and religion explaining to the reader that although having good intentions, the systems are led by phonies that discredit them [religion and education], thus depicting the normal teenager that will often question authority and adults (Developing Adolescents). It is more implicitly demonstrated when Holden is holding a conversation with Mr. Antolini. Although he likes Mr. Antolini a lot, he says he lacks intellectuality. While Antolini is attempting to convince Holden to return to school, Holden’s inner thoughts tell the reader that schools is a waste of time in Holden’s eyes because it is a flawed system. Equally, this also happens before Holden leaves Pencey Prep and stops by to see “Old Spencer.” He is respectful towards him aloud but internally he’s condescending of Spencer because of his old age. He disregards the advice the teacher gives him, pretty much any advice in general. He thinks everything everyone does is personal vengeance against him. Holden takes everything personally because he is self centered because, “it takes time to take others’ perspectives into account” (Developing Adolescents).
Attempting to Regain a Normal Life
Despite his clear normalcy, it can be argued that Holden is indeed abnormal because of his sudden outburst after Allie’s death and his substance abuse. In an academic journal by Wan Roselezan Wan Yahya and Ruzbeh Babaee, Holden’s trauma and suicide are brought up as a source of PTSD. Because of the trauma and suicidal thoughts they deem Holden as mentally unstable since he cannot cope, “Felman (1992) considers trauma as ‘unreasonable and untranscendable’ (p.35-6)” claiming that, “Holden stays in a numb state” (Salinger’s Depiction of Trauma in Catcher in the Rye). Arguably so, Holden does talk about death and sadness often, but he dealt with his brother’s death at the peak of puberty. He also lacks communication with those who shared that trauma with him. Despite his breaking of all the windows and sleeping for a week in the garage, Holden is attempting to regain a normal life. Allie’s death will always leave a scar but contrary to the idea that he hasn’t found closure is one that shows Holden finding purpose from Allie’s death: protecting the innocence of children beginning by Phoebe. Holden himself couldn’t have a happy adolescence and he wants it to be secured for the future. Everyone deals with grief differently, it takes some time others purpose and some never overcome it but Holden found his purpose within the carousel.
Caulfield allowed the reader to look through the lense of a damaged teenager that lacked communication with his family, lost a younger brother at 13, but had enough resilience to find closure in something that would patch the flawed educational and religious system. He demonstrated the ability to think critically about the abstract but also discredit the wise as the typical adolescent would. Caulfield takes the reader aboard the ship that nearly sunk and had to navigate the rocky waters of adolescence with a gaping hole but arrived safely to shore.
- Developing Adolescents: a Reference for Professionals. American Psychological Association, 2002.
- Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown, 1991.
- Yahya, Wan Roselezam Wan, and Ruzbeh Babaee. ‘Salinger’s depiction of trauma in The Catcher in the Rye.’ Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 4, no. 9, 2014, p. 1825+. Academic OneFile, https://galeapps.gale.com/apps/auth?userGroupName=tel_s_tsla&origURL=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.gale.com%2Fps%2Fi.do%3Fp%3DGPS%26u%3Dtel_s_tsla%26id%3DGALE&prodId=GPS|A386918898&v=2.1&it=r&sid=GPS&asid=6bc5ee90#038;sid=GPS&xid=6bc5ee90. Accessed 22 Feb. 2019.
The Essence Of Teenage Angst in The Catcher in The Rye By Jerome Salinger
While the Catcher in the Rye does indeed exemplify some common teenage anxieties, the novel takes it to a certain level that cannot be related to by all teenagers. Holden Caulfield illustrates an impressive amount of independence for the average teenager. He lives at a boarding school, for one, and decides to gather some money and hop on a train into the city to spend the weekend there on his own. This is something many modern teenagers could only dream of doing, for obvious safety concerns.
Not only this, but he is constantly going into bars and ordering alcoholic beverages, and only about half the time does he get denied. Putting aside all the technical inadequacies of the representation of the average teen, Holden’s overall mindset both does and does not embody the majority of teenage minds. Holden is relatable in the sense that he struggles with grasping the sincerity of the society around him and often talks about loneliness, depression, and throws the idea of suicide around like it’s not as big an issue as it is; as unfortunate as it may be, many teens can relate to such things in one way or another. Adolescence is not an incredibly easy stage, as a plethora of changes are occurring during this time. It is fairly normal for him to feel lonely at times and want to do anything to simply sit down and have a decent conversation with someone. It is also relatively normal for him to feel confused about the world and struggle between his innocence and maturity. In fact, the latter is one of the reasons why this book is so renowned for its embodiment of the average teenager.
Throughout the novel, Holden displays numerous acts of maturity for his age, such as finding himself a place to stay all weekend in New York City by himself and using his resources and contacts to keep himself safe. However, he also illustrates specific traits of a more immature, innocent character. For one, Holden often tries to avoid conflict as best he can, despite talking like he was tougher than he truly was. He also is extremely erratic and unpredictable in his behavior. For example, he was in the bathroom with his friend at Pencey when he “got bored of sitting on that washbowl after a while, so he backed up a few feet and started doing this tap dance, just for the hell of it” out of nowhere with no instigation. The symbolism in the novel also reveals his struggle in finding the balance between innocence and maturity in his adolescence. His reminiscence of his memories of the museum and his expression of love towards it, for instance, emphasizes his longing to live in a constant, unchanging society rather than the “phony” one that is his reality. This conceptual desire is also expressed within the title of the novel itself, as Holden explained how he wished he could be the “catcher in the rye,” saving children from falling off the symbolic cliff of childhood and simplicity in an unchanging haven. While this struggle may indeed encompass certain aspects of the average teenage, the novel still seems to take the situation to a level that is more difficult to relate to, on a less philosophical point.
On the very surface, Holden’s actions and overall mentality seem a little extreme to be called the embodiment of the average adolescent; instead, he simply comes across as socially inept and awkward, dark, and nosey. In other words, without deep analysis, he just seems to illustrate the extremes of the teenage mind, rather than the majority. So, to most readers, Holden is just an outcast with a depressing, negative attitude. It is only with further investigation does his representation of adolescence become clear.
Analysis of the Use of Language by Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in The Rye
Holden Caufield’s unique use of language established the prominent theme of teenage angst, as well as his overall character, throughout the course of the novel. As many teenagers do, Holden often wove unnecessary curing into his speech as a way of expressing his frustration that he found so difficult to explain. He often used the terms “sunuvbitch” and “bastard” to describe people that irritated him, such as when he referred to Stradlater – his roommate – as a bastard when he had asked him to do his homework for him. His overuse of cursing and slang also contributes to shaping the reader’s view of Holden as a whole, as the constant use of such language reveals his hostility from the very beginning of the novel. This hostility often leaked into his constant expression of his dislike for “phonies.” He used the term very often, and it was often a rather obscure, minute detail that set him off someone. He called numerous characters phonies for simply enjoying films or applauding or showing any sort of emotion after a show or performance.
For example, when Holden walked into the night club one night to watch the pianist play, he observed the crowds applauding after his performance and immediately disliked every single one of them, stating, “If you sat around there long enough and heard all the phonies applauding and all, you got to hate everybody in the world, I swear you did”. This hatred for supposed phonies may be a plausible reason as to why Holden often doubles back and repeats himself. The very end of his sentence, when he says, “I swear you did,” aids in the solidification of the idea that Holden constantly tries to verify his claims. He often adds some form of “He really did,” or “I swear it did,” when he says something in attempt to emphasize his sincerity. He also repeats the same line again in attempt to achieve the same thing. For example, near the end of the novel, Holden described how his sister walked around the carrousel by stating, “She walked all the way around it. I mean she walked once all the way around it”.
The second sentence provided little new information to the reader, yet he felt it was necessary to emphasize his sentence by saying it over again, leading the reader to interpret this speech pattern as his way of confirming the factuality of his statement.
Due to Holden’s unique speech patterns, his character is very well established and clear. He is a very stubborn, deep person who struggles with finding the genuineness in his society, and therefore seems to be slightly socially awkward and careless. For example, Holden is constantly asking people to go out for drinks with him. He asks numerous people that he’d only met minutes prior, and the answer is almost always “no.” When one of his attempts succeeded and he got an old “friend” from his Whooton school to meet him at a bar, Holden asked incredibly personal questions, despite not being very close with him. In fact, before he called him, he had claimed that he didn’t like him very much, contradicting his desire to get together with him. This contradiction also introduces the possibility, however, that this social awkwardness could be due to his intense desire for someone to talk to. He constantly expressed his loneliness and depression throughout the course of the novel, eventually reaching the point that he claims he would join the army to be put in front of the firing squad. Such suicidal thoughts and depression most likely made him feel desperate for casual social interaction and conversation, no matter who it was with.
Holden also struggles with accepting the society around him and constantly claims that it’s full of “phonies.” This is a true teenage issue, as he is struggling to find the truth and sincerity in others, while simultaneously trying to understand how he fits in among them. His social ineptness also exhibits himself in his lack of care or concern for what others think of him; he does not think of the repercussions of his actions or how it may affect others. One of the biggest, most frequent examples of this is when he lies simply for the sake of lying. Near the beginning of the novel, for instance, Holden finds himself on the train taking him into the city after abandoning Pencey and holds a conversation with a classmate’s mother, who’s also on board. As soon as the conversation began, Holden compulsively gives her the wrong name and lies to her about how her son acts at school. While one might make the argument that he did it for the mother’s sake, so that she could continue to think of her son as the lovely, perfect boy she imagines he is, Holden shares no evidence of that being his motive with the initial lies. Instead, he simply says, “I… started chucking the old crap around”.
Only after he sold the mother the false image of a modest, shy, popular class president did he even consider the possibility of how her perspective of him would be influenced; he initially told the lie simply because he felt like it. Another aspect of Holden’s character that was revealed through his speech and actions was how he held incredibly high, specific standards for people. For example, he goes into great depth to explain why all actors are “lousy” or “crumby,” and that they are only good if they don’t act like they know they are good. He constantly created new random standards for people or certain groups of people that nearly everyone apparently fails to meet. Not only this, but Holden also tended to classify and overgeneralize people too quickly to know whether or not his assumptions were accurate. For example, he claimed that “Catholics are always trying to find out if you’re a Catholic”, despite having met only one person that has ever proven his claim.
Analysis Of The Book “The Catcher in The Rye” By J.D. Salinger
Often times in society adapting to the expectations of how to live allows a person to feel more wanted and loved. In J.D. Salinger’s “The catcher in the rye” that was the case for Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old boy that struggles to fit in this world full of “phonies”. Throughout the book, many events have occurred to show Holden trying to fit in and explains how it makes you into the person you are.
Holden doesn’t get a lot of attention therefore, making it hard for him to be a social butterfly. He tries to talk to other people like Mr. Spencer, Carl Luce, Stradlater and Sally but at the end he leaves them with a bad impression of him. Holden is a lonely guy with strong opinion of others especially adults. “Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game I remember around three o’clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place You could hear them all yelling” (Page 2) that hints to the readers that while everyone else is at the game, Holden doesn’t seem to feel like he fits in with everyone else therefore isolating him from society. Talking to people makes him feel appreciated but it’s something he rather not do especially when Mr. Spencer gave him a lecture about getting his life together by saying “Life is a game, Boy, Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.” (page 8)
Holden has a strong personality that may seem a little harsh to people especially in his actions. He loves to use the word “phony” when referring to a lot of people and he doesn’t like the adulthood which he tries to stay away from. First, when he was told that he was getting expelled he didn’t do anything about it, it was just another school that kicked him out. “When I had my bags and all, I stood for a while I was sort of crying… then I yelled “sleep tight ya morans!” I bet I woke up every bastard on the whole, then got the hell out.” As a 16-year-old, Holden is expected to act the way he is in the book, the swearing and thoughts going through his mind. It’s normal for people his age to do that.
Holden is not an open book as he said, “Besides I’m not going to tell you my autobiography or anything” (Page 1), however, we see his characteristics and how he tries fits in mainly through his thoughts. When Holden said “What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.” (page 4), he tries to feel a connection with a place, he tries to make something out of it and he rather be sad than not say goodbye.
Holden has very intense thought’s especially about suicide, for example, “It took me quite a while to get to sleep-I wasn’t even tired- but finally I did. What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve done it, too, If I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn’t want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory.” (page 104) This shows he is an unstable emotional kid that has gone through his life with events occurring like his brother D.B passing away from Cancer and his other friend killing himself that has traumatized him and affected the growth of the child in many ways so for Holden Caulfield to feel that way is totally normal especially since he has no one to support him or be there for him.
There are perks and flaws to trying to fit in. Not everyone can do it and Holden is for sure one of those people. It’s really weird if you think about it because why do people try so hard to fit in? Why can’t we be good on our own? As Dr. Seuss, always says “Why fit in when you were born to standout!” However, not fitting in helped Holden not go through all the drama, emotional and physical pain, and suffer that every teenager goes through but he’s isolated him from the world and what the world is really like.