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.
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 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.
Analysis Of The Holden Character in The Catcher in The Rye
As imperfect humans, I think most of us are afraid of change even if we don’t show it. Change is without a doubt, inevitable. It’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” puts us in the person of view of Holden, the main character. Within Holden’s two-day journey, it becomes known very quick that Holden isn’t the typical perfect protagonist. Instead he is a troubled protagonist, that really doesn’t have any answers for life. Holden has many problems in life including the death of his brother Allie. Holden is afraid of change and it is very obvious due to the way he acts to certain aspects of life.
In J.D Salinger’s novel, The Catcher In The Rye, the character that we get to follow is Holden. Holden was living in Pencey Prep (the school) and was failing all but one of his classes which was English. Holden complains about a lot in his life but something that really got to him was his brother Allie. Allie had died 3 years before the timeline of the book. Allie had died of leukemia. Holden believed that Allie was the only person who deeply understood him. The same night that Allie died, Holden did not deal with it so well. He began to break all of the windows in the garage with his bare hands. He ended up breaking his own hand because of this. Allie’s death is the possibility the reason why Holden is so afraid of change, it is what created the fear to begin with. Holden had felt that Allie was smart for his age, Holden claims that “he was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent”.
Holden sees change in a way that’s different from most people. The way it is for him is that the more a person grows mentally, the closer you will be to dying. Holden’s fear of change came from the death of his brother and because of it he believes that once a person starts to grow up it will sooner or leader lead to your death. This is why Holden is so hesitant to grow up in the novel. Holden talking about the ducks disappearing in winter with the cab driver is also a good example of how Holden is afraid of change, “you know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?”. Although Holden does not directly say it, it is very obvious that he is afraid of a simple change like the ducks going away in the winter. Holden is so bothered by change and this just represents how he feels about life. He doesn’t want things to change he wants everything to remain the same. He doesn’t want anything to go away like the ducks do.
In the novel, it is obvious that Holden is terrible with change. Holden being terrible with change has led to many things. Holden is stuborn, depressed, not mature and he is terrible with people. There are times when Holden does not even know somebody and he will call them phonies. An example of this is the character Jane. Although Holden never admits that he has a crush on Jane, it is very obvious that he was crushing on her. He just simply did not know what to do. Holden could have told her his true feelings for her even when Stradlater was dating her but he never did. He was always so afraid to even if he doesn’t admit it. I personally think it’s because he doesn’t want the relationship to change. He is afraid of his own feelings because he doesn’t want his feelings to interfere with the relationships he has with people. It’s clear that he is lying about not calling Jane because he didn’t feel like it when he says “the only reason I didn’t do it was because I wasn’t in the mood”. Holden is just too afraid to admit that he doesn’t want his relationships to change.
Holden starts to experience change when he goes home and talks to Phoebe, he tells her about this fantasy he’s been having. Holden, wearing his red hunting hat was in a field of rye, where children were playing a game. Holden would run over and catch them before they reached the cliff and fell off. The cliff can be a symbol for growing up, or adulthood which is what Holden as against. When the children are playing the game, the rye is tall and they probably aren’t paying attention to where they’re going. Holden’s job would be to catch them and prevent them from becoming adults and thus preserving their life. Holden then goes to his old English teacher, Mr. Antolini. Mr. Antolini gives Holden basically the same advice old Spencer gives him. He tells Holden to find himself and ultimately grow up. These events are the rising action to the scene where Holden gives Phoebe his red hunting hat. This symbolizes the fact that he has grown up and accepted change, and is now making Phoebe the next ‘catcher in the rye’. Holden ultimately accepts change and lets out his feelings by crying after all of this time and finally becomes an adult (“I felt so damn happy all of sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. Holden accepts change and releases his feelings after a number of events push him into changing, such as his conversation with Phoebe, Mr. Antolini and the image of Phoebe on the carousel. These events are the rising action to the climax, where Holden starts to cry and releases his feelings after giving Phoebe the red hunting hat.
Analysis Of J.D. Salinger’s Novel “The Catcher in The Rye”
J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher In The Rye is a banned book in most American high schools and libraries which takes place in the late 1940’s taught readers about teen angst and alienation in which Salinger puts bad situations to a good ending. In this piece of literature Phoebe Caulfield and the protagonist Holden Caulfield is the most recognized true relationship. Phoebe Caulfield is the most important secondary character because she conveys the theme of preserving innocence which helps Holden realize that he wants to become the “catcher in the rye” which is saving young innocent children from adulthood.
Although protecting children’s innocence is impossible, it allows adolescents to learn to let go because as they grow they become closer to maturity. In the end of this novel, Holden let’s Phoebe go towards maturity to take a chance in life even though she might get hurt. Towards the ending of the novel, Holden realizes that “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and he was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, but he didn’t say anything or do anything. 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 to them. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them”. At this point Holden sees Phoebe and children as maturing individuals who must be allowed to live their own lives and take their own risks and fall out childhood.
He finally sees that children have to take risks to learn how to mature, and adults must let them. Holden understands that growing up is a way of life and it is bad for him to try and prevent it. When Phoebe rides the carousel, Holden realizes that there are times when kids want to try to grab the gold ring, symbolically taking a chance in life, and he must allow her the freedom to do that, even though she may fall. That realization is a big step for Holden. All things considered, the relationship between Holden and Phoebe seems healthy and normal for caring siblings. It is in flux, as is everything in life, and Holden may regret that. But he shows he has grown when he realizes that Phoebe can’t stay 10 years old forever.
The Ring that Phoebe reaches for is, in a literal sense, like monkey bars. When we are young we can’t reach them. As we grow older over the years we grow closer and closer to being able to reach them. This can metaphorically be related to us reaching for maturity. a very literal image depicting Holden holding himself back and letting phoebe go on the carousel by herself Holden’s Realization – the ring is what makes Holden realize that he has to let Phoebe grow up. He also realizes at this moment that he himself has to mature and he has to move on from the death of his brother Allie. This brings us to the cleansing symbol. The Carousel The Carousel represents life in the sense that life goes round and round. The horses on the carousel go up down as does life. This can be related to maternity and how as we grow up we have to accept new responsibility, just like Holden realizes he does.
The sight of Phoebe on the carrousel is a kind of epiphany (a clarity of insight). It is one of those moments that he would like to keep forever. On the carrousel, there is movement, but the carousel never actually goes anywhere: just round and round with Phoebe in her blue coat. It is beautiful, and, for a moment, even Holden feels joy. “No, you’re not. Go on. I’ll wait for ya. Go on,” Holden begins to contemplate the idea of being a Catcher in the Rye. Phoebe is threatening to fall off the ‘cliff’ by saying she’s too big to enjoy the ride anymore. He saves her by encouraging her to ride it. She remains a child for a little bit longer. When all the kids are reaching for the gold ring, Holden feels, “If they fall off they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them” and just have to let them “fall” out of childhood. Holden understands that growing up is a way of life and it is bad for him to try and prevent it- a turn in his character. I felt so damn happy all of sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could’ve been there.”
Evaluation of the Debate Around the Catcher in the Rye, a J.d. Salinger’s Book
Ever since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye has served as a cornerstone for controversy and debate. It is a story of a teenager growing up in New York, who has been expelled from school for poor grades. In an attempt to deal with this, he leaves school a few days prior to the end of term, and goes to the city to take a vacation before returning to his parents. The central theme of The Catcher in the Rye emanates from the confrontation and ultimate loss of innocence that occurs hand in hand with the assimilation into society and the loneliness that arises thereafter. Holden’s misguided morality brings about a dysfunctional personality that begs to be psychoanalyzed, not only in his interactions with the outside world, but also his internal motivation. The psychological battles of this novel’s main character serve as the basis for critical argument. Caulfield’s self-destruction over a period of days forces one to look at society’s attitude toward the human condition. Salinger’s portrayal of this teenager, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, vulgarity, and other erratic behavior, have all attributed to the controversial nature of the novel.
Holden s sensitivity is one of his main aspects, in fact he is probably too sensitive for his own good. He suffers from an almost an uncontrollable urge to protect people he sees as vulnerable. He is attracted to the weak and the frail, and he “feels sorry for” losers of all kinds, even those who cause him pain, discomfort, or trouble. But the main focus of Holden’s protective instinct is children, whom he sees as symbols of goodness and innocence, and whom he would like to shield against corruption. He has a daydream about children who never grow up, who remain in that perfect world forever and his own problems of facing the real world are linked to that daydream. I kept picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of That s all I do all day. I just be the catcher in the rye and all. (Salinger 173) One sign of corruption in Holden’s worldview is the process of growing up, since it removes us from the perfect innocence of childhood. His vision of the cliff develops out into his own dream to be saved. What he wants to be saved from, isn t exactly clear even in Holden s mind. Caulfield s apparent virtue helps to mask his true character. It s not difficult to understand why readers have always ignored Holden s grave deficiencies as a person.
Loneliness motivates the character, Holden Caulfield, to break off communication of with society. His problem is one of communication: as a teenager, he simply cannot get through to the adult world that surrounds him. As a sensitive teenager, he cannot get through others of his own age. Adult communication intimidates and alienates his character. Moreover, Holden expresses his problem with communication indirectly and in a striking and decisive moment, he relays his desire to become a deaf mute. I did not care what kind of job it was, though. Just so people did not know me and I did not know anybody. I thought what I would do was, I would pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they’d have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They’d get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I’d be through with having conversations for the rest of my life. . . I’d cook all my own food, and later on, if I wanted to get married or something, I’d meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we’d get married. She’d come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she’d have to write it on a piece of paper, like everybody else (Salinger 198). Holden is essentially a loner, but not because he dislikes people. His loneliness arises from the fact that no one seems to share his view of the world, no one understands what’s going on in his head. His poor academic record is one indication of his failure to deal with this problem, a problem that builds to a climax in the course of the novel.
One character that Holden is compared to in some ways is Hamlet. Like Hamlet, he is bothered by words that only seem true, but really quite phony. The integrity and truthfulness that Caulfield cannot seem to find in others he tries to maintain within himself. Holden often makes a point of using the word “really” to state the fact that something is really so, to prove to the reader that had not become a phony himself. I knew old Jane like a book. I really did I really got to know her quite intimately. Holden is frightened often by the occasional realization that he too, must be phony to exist in the adult world. The irony of this situation is that, he is phony to everyone even to him self. Through out the novel he tells us that he can t stand most of the people that he meets. At the end of the novel, Holden says, “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice.” (Salinger 217). This phrase alone contradicts most of his actions through out the book.
Only Salinger will ever completely understand all of the character’s complexities and flaws. He penned Holden to be purposely puzzling; to evade all attempts to pin him down to one stereotype. Through his actions and reactions to society and others, Holden demonstrates to the reader the theme of acceptance, illustrated throughout the novel. Holden speaks his mind, which the average teenage reader values highly.
The Concept of Consumer and Its Representation
The World Wars, being some of the most important events in history, changed society and created the modern world we know today. The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, is a critic of the new, modern world that was created in the post war era. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, famously judges and criticizes almost everything around him. JD Salinger uses Holden’s judgmental thoughts to demonstrate the detriment a society revolving around social class can be. Holden feels trapped in and tries to escape the prep school lifestyle, but finds himself at another in the fall. Holden judges the quality and price of suitcases of those below him, even at an elite prep school, and sees everyone socioeconomically above him as phony while everyone who is socioeconomically below him is depressing.
Marxism is the idea that “all war is class war”; the conflicts in society all stem from the separation between people based on their wealth. There is no social class separate from economic class. Holden and his family are in the upper class socioeconomically, meaning they are socially elite and economically wealthy. Holden, a naive teenager, knows that he is separate from others, because he’s less cool or younger than they are, but he doesn’t see the ways he looks down on others for their economic class. Holden brings up the quality of the suitcases of a roommate he hasn’t seen in years. It’s telling that he remembers such a small commodity and associates an entire person with this. Holden reduces his roommate, Dick Slagle, to the suitcases he took to school. Holden even says, “ It isn’t important, I know” but still goes on about how he “hate[s] it when somebody has cheap suitcases,” (page 13). Holden associates himself with his suitcases that “came from Mark Cross, and they were genuine cowhide and all that crap, and I guess they cost quite a pretty penny” (page 13). Despite that Holden didn’t succeed at this school at all, he thinks of himself as superior to his roommate for something so small as his suitcases. This connects to Marxism because an important belief in this theory is, first, that people are in the class socially that they are in economically, and also because of the idea of sign exchange value. Sign exchange value is the idea that “a commodity’s value lies in the social status it confers on its owner” (Tyson 59). Holden is assigning a sign exchange value to these suitcases and oppressing his roommate through this. A critical inquiry at the University of Chicago connects the capitalist society that Holden lives in to the economic struggle represented by these suitcases. The critic says, “Only a few can hope for suitcases, at the expense of the many, and enjoyment of them depends on shutting out awareness of the many. Furthermore, even the few are somehow blocked from enjoyment by the antagonistic striving required to secure one’s suitcases,” (Ohmann and Ohmann). Holden does not focus on how much he appreciates his suitcases, just the conflict that is caused by those who wish to have them. This is how a society revolving around social class and sign exchange value, like in the theory of Marxism, manipulates people into separating themselves from each other. JD Salinger, through Holden and suitcases, shows how relationships between people, even unconsciously, can be manipulated by their socioeconomic classes.
Besides exploring Marx’s ideas on how capitalism affects the relationship between people in different socioeconomic classes, Tyson explores the way that Marxism attempts to analyze the people in these classes and the way their class affects their life. Tyson implies that a Marxist criticism would evaluate Holden’s negative and judgmental thoughts as a function of his class and feelings towards being in that class. This is because Holden is a critic to others around him, but also to himself. He criticizes the situations that he puts himself into an even greater extent than those he does not. Holden chooses to hire a prostitute and chooses not to pay her the extra five dollars she demands. Holden puts himself in this situation, where money (socioeconomic class) is the central force behind this interaction between himself, the pimp, and the prostitute. But yet, despite causing the situation and being able to resolve it, which would put him in control, Holden feels trapped. He uses language to imply this in the scene, saying, “He was almost standing on top of me,” (page 44). Holden also implies that his actions were not in his control when he says, “All of a sudden I started to cry. I’d give anything if I hadn’t, but I did,” (page 45). Holden even stays on the ground, after the pimp hurts him and leaves, saying, “Then I stayed on the floor a fairly long time, sort of the way I did with Stradlater. Only, this time I thought I was dying. I really did. I thought I was drowning or something. The trouble was, I could hardly breathe,” (page 45). Although Holden is in control, both because he could have given the pimp and the prostitute money before they hurt him and because he is physically in control of his own body, Holden feels trapped. It is also evident that he feels trapped in his lifestyle as a member of the upper socioeconomic class in the way he tries (and fails) to evade the prep school lifestyle. A University of Chicago literary criticism points out that this relationship, between Holden and school, is important in seeing his relationship to the rest of society. The criticism says, “‘School is the agency by which America more than most countries consciously socializes the imma- ture for entry into the approved adult activities: and so a boy’s relation to school becomes a microcosm of the individual’s relation to his society.’ (Way)” (Ohmann and Ohmann) Holden even goes as far as to say that he’s going to move out west. He says his plan is to, “start hitchhiking my way out West. What I’d do, I figured, I’d go down to the Holland Tunnel and bum a ride, and then I’d bum another one, and another one, and another one, and in a few days I’d be somewhere out West where it was very pretty and sunny and where nobody’d know me and I’d get a job,” (page 110). Holden has been expelled from four boarding schools, which is a function of his own actions, and is choosing to go out West. This would separate him from the upper class prep school lifestyle that he is obviously trying to evade, but it doesn’t. Holden returns to a prep school in the fall and never goes out West to escape it. This is because Holden is trapped in his socioeconomic class; although he is apart of the privileged class, Holden is still oppressed by this societal structure. Lois Tyson explains this phenomenon, “The family unconsciously carries out the cultural “program” in raising its children, but that program is produced by the socioeconomic culture within the which the family operates,” (Tyson, page 14). Holden goes back to prep school because of his family’s wishes; his parents raised him in the “cultural program” of high class prep school because of their high class socioeconomic status. This “cultural program” is what Holden is trying to escape from because he feels trapped in it. Marxism would use this as an example of how people, even those in the upper class, are oppressed by the Capitalist system.
Holden Caulfield feels trapped in his lifestyle, but he doesn’t realize that he is really trapped in a consumerist society that revolves around social class. He criticizes others for their suitcases or their breakfasts, but doesn’t realize he is actually criticizing their standing in a capitalist, consumer driven society. Holden is a mesmerizing character; he is relatable to some and infuriating to others. But these ideas of Holden cannot be separated from his experiences as the socioeconomic elite. This elite has existed since the post World Wars, industrial lifestyle came to be. It is strange to think that all Americans are still living in a society that, despite being more accepting of identities and sexualities, continues to oppress people for their class and allow others to flourish at the expense of those below them. This is the model that allows the owners, CEOs, and other leaders of Walmart to make billions while their un-unionized employees work for minimum wage.