The Catcher in the Rye
In what way is The Catcher in the Rye an iconic work Research Paper
One of the most distinctive characteristics of Jerome Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, is the fact that, ever since being published for the first time in 1951, it had instantly won an immense popularity with readers.
According to Whitfield (1997): “Within two weeks (after the first publishing), it had been reprinted five times, the next month three more times… His (Salinger’s) book stayed on the bestseller list for thirty weeks” (567). The reason why it turned out to be the case has been discussed from a variety of different perspectives.
Nevertheless, even today, most critics do agree with the suggestion that the key to Salinger novel’s popularity is the fact that in it, author had gone about exploring a number of clearly controversial subject matters, such as the issue of adolescent sexuality, for example. As it was pointed out by Kaplan (1965): “Since its (novel’s) publication, a large mass of critical opinion has grown up around this controversial novel. Most of the criticism has resulted from Salinger’s use of profanity in the text” (6).
We, however, do not subscribe to such point of view, because there are good reasons to believe that the actual explanation as to this novel’s iconic status is the fact that in The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger had succeeded in revealing the set of psychological traits, the endowment with which causes a particular individual to emanate the aura of historicity.
In this paper, we will aim to substantiate the validity of such our hypothesis by drawing parallels between the psychological makeup of novel’s main character Holden Caulfield and the psychological makeup of young Adolph Hitler, exposed in August Kubizek’s book The Young Hitler I Knew, as we believe that it is namely the behavioral sameness between the two, which intensified novel’s mystique more than anything else did.
Just as Volkswagen Beetle’s association with Hitler had helped this car to become a symbol of the whole generation of baby boomers, the fact that the character of Holden Caulfield can be best referred to as ‘Hitler-in-making’, had helped securing Salinger novel’s unwavering popularity with the readers, often despite their conscious will.
The reading of even few initial chapters of The Catcher in the Rye, leaves no doubt as to the fact that Holden’s foremost psychological trait was his acute sense of existential idealism and his perceptional sensitivity. And, just as it is usually the case with just about all idealists, Holden appears being endowed with a number clearly perfectionist urges. This partially explains Holden’s almost pathological loathing of filth – throughout novel’s entirety, Holden never skips an opportunity to express his revulsion of uncleanliness.
At the beginning of Catcher in the Rye, there is a memorable scene in which Ackley tries to engage in conversation with the narrator, without realizing the fact that in Holden’s eyes, his ‘individuality’ was not reflected by his imaginary sex-escapades, but rather by his poorly kept fingernails: “He started cleaning his goddam fingernails with the end of a match.
He was always cleaning his fingernails… I guess he thought that made him a very neat guy” (12). Apparently, Holden’s filth-related subconscious anxieties represented an integral element of his existential mode – in narrator’s mind; people’s affiliation with filth reflected their lessened value as society’s members.
In his article, Rosen (1977) came up with essentially the same observation: “From the start, Holden’s mind has been filled with images of rot and decay…And it is this obsessive concern of Holden’s which accounts for the concentration of his narrative upon details of bodily functioning, dirt, and decay-filthy fingernails, mossy teeth, smelly socks…” (550).
The reading of Kubizek’s book, points out to the fact that, just as it was the case with Holden, young Hitler also strived avoiding being exposed to filth, as his life’s foremost priority: “Even more than from hunger, he (Hitler) suffered from the lack of cleanliness, as he was almost pathologically sensitive about anything concerning the body. At all costs, he would keep his linen and clothing clean” (81).
It is well worthy noticing that another person of great historical significance – Napoleon, also could not stand filth. In its turn, this strengthens the validity of paper’s initial hypothesis even further. Apparently, it was not simply by an accident that Salinger wanted to represent his main character as someone repulsed by uncleanness – given the fact the Holden also tended to think of a society as ‘phony’, it was only the matter of time before he would set himself onto the path of combating society’s ‘evils’, upon reaching an adulthood.
In its turn, this explains the essence of Holden’s academic failures – the actual reason why Holden decided to leave Pencey did not have as much to do with his inability to excel in studies, as it had to do with narrator’s tendency to view the purpose of these studies as being excessively pragmatic: “All you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac someday…” (70).
Just as it was the case with Hitler, who despite being a talented painter, had failed at entering the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts, Holden also had failed at securing an academic future for himself, despite being rather intellectually advanced individual for his years. In all probability, by exposing Holden as someone averted by studies, Salinger subtly implied that narrator’s destiny had little to do with the prospect of him attaining education-related conventional happiness, as it is the case with ordinary people.
In its turn, this would explain why novel’s ending leaves much uncertainty as to Holden’s future: “I’m supposed to go to next fall… But I don’t feel like it. I really don’t. That stuff doesn’t interest me too much right now” (114). As we are well aware of, Hitler never became an architect, as he originally intended.
Instead, he became someone who produced a deadly blow on Communism, from which this political ideology was never able to recover. And, despite the fact that The Catcher in the Rye does not provide us with much of an insight on what would happen to Holden in the future, we can deduce that he would never become a conformist. And, it is namely those with non-conformist socio-political attitudes, who have a chance of leaving mark in the history.
Thus, we do not quite agree with critics who imply that Holden’s rather non-conformist and utterly idealistic perception of love and sexuality should be thought of as the foremost indication of his immaturity.
Whatever the presumptuous it might sound – there are good reasons to think that narrator’s hypertrophied sense of sexuality-related idealism should be considered as an indication of him being a particularly valuable citizen, as it is specifically the sheer strength of people’s animalistic urges, extrapolated in their tendency to hump everything that moves, which reflects their lessened ability to function as productive members of society. One would only need to venture into just any ethnic ‘ghetto’ to realize the full validity of this statement.
Apparently, Holden’s perception of love and sex has never been affected by currently predominant ‘fashion’, in regards to these matters. As a sensitive and idealistically minded young man, Holden was subconsciously aware of the fact that sex is nothing but the instrument of love and that it is a mistake to imply both notions being essentially synonymous, as many of today’s ‘progressive’ teenagers do.
The soundness of this suggestion can be explored in regards to novel’s scene in which narrator expounds on how he felt while holding hands with Jane: “I held hands with her all the time, for instance. That doesn’t sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold hands with… You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were” (43).
In Holden’s mind, his love of Jane was just too pure and perfect to be tainted by the thoughts of sex. And, the reading of Kubizek’s book leaves very few doubts as to the fact that, just as it was the case with Holden, young Hitler also tended to think of his love of Stefanie in purely platonic terms, while considering the very idea of having sex with her as utterly offensive.
Stefanie’s mere smile would make him perfectly happy: “Stefanie had no idea how deeply Adolf was in love with her… When she responded with a smile to his inquiring glance, he was happy… When Stefanie, as happened just as often, coldly ignored his gaze, he was crushed and ready to destroy himself and the whole world” (32).
The scene, where Holden meets prostitute Sunny and ends up paying her for nothing, is being suggestive of the fact that it is specifically due to narrator’s moral repugnance towards the idea of women selling their bodies for sex, that he did not fool around with her: “The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth” (52).
The same can be said about young Hitler, who never ceased rejecting Kubizek’s insistence that he should have tried sex with a prostitute – apparently, Germany’s future dictator could never bring himself to even consider the possibility of having sex with a hooker, due to the sheer strength of his genuine repugnance, regarding the idea: “For this spreading of prostitution he (Hitler) blamed not only those actually practicing it, but those responsible for the prevailing social and economic conditions…
Ever and again he tackled the problem and searched for a solution whereby in the future any kind of ‘commercial love’ would be rendered impossible” (119). Just as Holden, Hitler thought of sex as the instrument of love, which is why he strongly opposed the idea of having sex for money.
The parallels between the character of Holden and young Hitler can also be outlined in how they both regarded the issue of homosexuality. Apparently, for both of them, the thought of having sex with a man was beyond understanding. In Salinger’s novel, the theme of Holden’s homophobia is being continuously referred to, throughout its entirety, as narrator never ceases to define homosexuals of ‘perverts’.
Holden’s poorly concealed homophobia reaches its climax in the scene where Mr. Antolini advances him in his sleep: “I woke up all of a sudden… I felt something on my head, some guy’s hand. Boy, it really scared hell out of me. What it was, it was Mr. Antolini’s hand” (103). After having realized what was the real motive behind such Antolini’s move, Holden simply ran away from his former teacher’s house, as if was trying to run away from hell.
Essentially the same situation is being described in Kubizek’s book, as well – after having realized that an older men, which he initially thought of as a friend, was in fact homosexual, seventeen years old Hitler became horrified to such an extent that he swore to his friend to never stop fighting this kind of sexual perversion with all his might: “Adolf explained this phenomenon (homosexuality) to me.
Naturally this, too, had long been one of his problems and, as an abnormal practice, he wished to see it fought against relentlessly…” (120). Without being able to win over Jane, and without being able to fall in love with any other girl, Holden did not have any other choice but to become a loner. Nevertheless, it is quite impossible to agree with critics who suggest that, as novel’s plot unraveled, it was becoming increasingly harder for Holden to deal with his loneliness.
As a true stoic, Holden had grown to derive pleasure out of savoring his own misery. While being a sensitive individual, narrator had made a point in denying his sensitivity to himself and others – hence, proving himself more of a man then novel’s superficially ‘manly’ characters, such as Maurice, because it is specifically men’s ability to keep emotions under control, which has traditionally been considered as the foremost proof of their manliness.
Apparently, Holden thought of himself in very high regard, which is why he never sunk quite as low as socializing with those whom he considered spiritually alien and intellectually primitive for too long. And, as history shows, those men who were able to singlehandedly affect its course, have always been ‘lone wolfs’. While explaining the essence of Hitler’s loneliness, during his years in Vienna, Kubizek states: “It was not arrogance that held him (Hitler) back.
It was rather his poverty, and the consequent sensitiveness, that caused him to live on his own… He had too high an opinion of himself for a superficial flirtation or for a merely physical relation with a girl” (120). And, what do idealistic men with a touch of genius do, once they find themselves in position of being powerless to ‘improve’ the surrounding reality? The answer is – they create their own ‘dream-world’, where they hide, while waiting for their time to come.
Throughout Salinger’s novel, Holden is being repeatedly exposed as someone who never held a grip on objective realities and someone who, instead of addressing life’s challenges practically, simply preferred fantasizing about how he should have proceeded with addressing these challenges.
For example, after having been punched in the stomach by Maurice, Holden imagined himself being some sort of a romantic hero, who was just about to pull out his gun at start shooting at the offender: “I pictured myself coming out of the goddam bathroom, dressed and all, with my automatic in my pocket… He’d (Maurice) see me with the automatic in my hand and he’d start screaming at me… Six shots right through his fat hairy belly” (56).
When Sally asked Holden about what would be his plans for the future, had she chosen to marry him, Holden came up with utterly unrealistic suggestion that they could run off to Massachusetts or Vermont and stay in the cabin, while living off the land: “We could drive up to Massachusetts and Vermont, and all around there, see… We’ll stay in these cabin camps and stuff like that till the dough runs out” (71).
Even later in the novel, Holden continues to refer to the idea of living off the land in the cabin as perfectly plausible: “I’d build me a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life” (107).
In a similar manner, young Hitler never ceased toying with utterly unrealistic ideas as to how he wanted to proceed with his life in the future. As it appears from Kubizek’s book, Hitler was absolutely serious in his hope of winning the lottery, which would provide him with enough money to build a cabin-like house in the countryside, where nothing would distract him from philosophizing and playing piano for the rest of his life: “There was a difference between the way Adolf bought a lottery ticket and the way other people did.
For other people only hope, or rather, dream of getting the first prize, but Adolf was sure he had won from the moment of buying the ticket and had only forgotten to collect the money” (48). Just as it was the case with Holden, Hitler preferred to live in the ‘alternative reality’; he created inside of his mind. And, the actual realities had very little effect on how he thought of the world and his place in it.
Moreover, it is not only that Holden and Hitler would never allow these realities to have an impact on their ideal of a perfect ‘dream-world’, but they actively strived to impose their vision of how world should have been onto just about anyone they would talk to. This was exactly the reason why they longed for the audience more than for anything else. “All I need’s an audience.
I’m an exhibitionist” says Holden at the beginning of the novel (16). Predictably enough, Holden’s longing for finding himself listeners, closely reminded that of Hitler’s: “He (Hitler) just had to talk and needed somebody who would listen to him. I was often startled when he would make a speech to me, accompanied by vivid gestures, for my benefit alone” (10).
It is being estimated that, during his rise to power and during his stay in German Chancellor’s office, Hitler had held at least a thousand of public speeches. And, it has also been noticed that, after the end of every speech, he would retreat into seclusion for a few days, in order to deal with his mental exhaustion, resulting from a speech. Throughout the course of his career, Hitler continued to insist that all he really wanted to was to be left alone, so that he would find himself at liberty to explore his passion for fine arts and architecture.
And, in The Catcher in the Rye Holden is also being represented as someone, who despite his taste for speaking out in public, thought that being a hermit suited him so much better then being an orator. While referring to the workings of Holden’s psyche, in his article Pattanaik (1998) states: “He (Holden) has vague ideas about his life from the monotony, cliché and ‘phoniness’ of society. But he is certain about shedding his egoistic self one day and regressing into silence” (118).
It is quite impossible to tell whether the knowledge of Hitler’s biography served Salinger as an inspiration for writing his novel – after all, in time of WW2 he fought against Nazis. Nevertheless, we can be certain as to the fact that Salinger was well aware of what accounts for particular individual’s ability to leave a mark in history.
In its turn, this would explain the iconic status of The Catcher in the Rye – apparently, the motifs explored in Salinger’s novel, do correlate with people’s subconscious anxieties to expand their individuality into posterity by the mean attaining a historical significance. In concluding part of this paper, we will expound on this suggestion at length.
Nowadays, the majority of people in Western countries are being taught to believe that their likelihood of attaining happiness should be assessed through the lenses of how they take an advantage of various moneymaking opportunities. The more a particular individual is able to earn money, while applying the least of an effort, the better are the chances for him or her to be regarded as a happy person.
Nevertheless, while being genetically predisposed towards perceiving objective realities in highly idealistic manner, the majority of Westerners do not think of a pathway to happiness as something strictly concerned with their ability to satisfy their physiological urges. At the same time, given these people’s existential secularism, deriving out of their possession of a high IQ, they are not very likely to proceed with trying to attain happiness by the mean of dedicating their lives to some tribal Gods, as many people in Third World countries do.
In its turn, this causes idealistically minded and intellectually advanced Westerners to grow increasingly aware of the fact that, in order for them to be elevated above petty details of physiological existence, which in its turn would enable them to ensure semi-immortality of their individuality; they must become semi-Gods.
The earlier articulated suggestion provides us with the insight onto the true essence of Salinger’s novel popularity with readers, as it subtly promotes an idea that the key to one’s historically defined immortality is his or her existential unconventionality, sublimated in person’s willingness to sacrifice itself for the sake of a higher good.
This is exactly the reason why Christianity became essentially a white men’s religion. Apparently, the biography of Jesus concerned with the process of this semi-historical figure rising from obscurity to the position of ‘son of God’, simply appealed to highly idealistic workings of Western psyche. Even today, only few Westerners bother to seek the proofs of Jesus’ divinity in the Bible – all that makes him a divine figure in their eyes, is the fact that Jesus sacrificed himself to assure the triumph of a justice.
This also explains why nowadays, Hitler is being increasingly perceived as semi-religious, rather than strictly political figure – Hitler’s biography is essentially the retelling of Jesus’ story, adapted to the realities of modern living. According to Waite (1971): “He (Hitler) saw himself as a messiah who was establishing a new religion and leading a great crusade against the cosmic forces of evil…
It is not surprising, therefore, to find Hitler very seriously comparing himself to Jesus” (244). And, given the fact that we have established an undeniable similarity between Holden and Hitler’s existential stances, it comes as no particular surprise that, ever since its publishing in 1951, Salinger’s novel was able to achieve a cult status. Apparently, while reading the story of Holden, people gradually grow to think of this character as the ‘saint of modern times’.
As it was rightly pointed out by Pattanaik, in the article from which we already quoted, the structural subtleties of Holden’s story can even be conceptualized with the framework of a Buddhist religious doctrine: “Sexual abstinence (Brahmacharya) denial of material benefits (aparigraha) and elimination of individual identity (apaurusheya) are the different moral disciplines the seeker has to undertake in the course of his spiritual elevation” (120).
Therefore, even though the way in which Holden acted can be formally attributed to his immaturity, the apparent strangeness of his behavior is best assessed as something divinely rather then psychotically inspired. After all, he never went about gang-raping, looting stores or painting graffiti on the walls of governmental buildings, as many of today’s ‘ethnically unique’ adults do.
It is important to understand that, unlike what it is the case with people in Third World, which can now be referred to as representatives of a fully ‘specialized’ sub-specie, due to their inability to evolve intellectually and to maintain even moderately appropriate standards of living on their own, the history of Western civilization is essentially the history of ‘evolutionary jumps’, instigated by socio-political, cultural and scientific activities of a small number of truly extraordinary individuals.
For example, despite the fact that during their lifetime, such individuals as Galileo, Copernicus, and Einstein have been commonly regarded by contemporaries as ‘weirdos’, they nevertheless succeeded in providing a powerful boost to the course of Western civilization’s cultural and scientific progress.
This is why their names are now firmly embedded in our civilization’s historical matrix. The names of their critics, on the other hand, are now forgotten. Apparently, unlike what it is the case with ordinary people, geniuses can afford acting ‘weird’, because it is not the way of how they act that defines them as individuals, but the innovative ideas they promote to others.
Therefore, just as we have hypothesized in Introduction, the popularity of The Catcher in the Rye can be the least explained by clearly controversial sounding of themes and motifs, contained in the novel, but rather by the fact that, while being exposed to the character of Holden Caulfield, readers get to experience a sensation of ‘intellectual transcendence’, because they subconsciously perceive the ideas, promoted by novel’s main character, as absolutely truthful: sex is not synonymous of love, manliness is not synonymous of a raw physical strength, and intelligence is not synonymous of one’s ability to memorize large amounts of irrelevant information.
This is the actual explanation as to the clearly iconic status of Salinger’s novel – the reading of The Catcher in the Rye reveals a sheer fallaciousness of a variety of conventions, which today’s mass Media endorse as representing an undeniable truth-value.
Kaplan, Robert. The Catcher in the Rye: Notes. Lincoln: Neb John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1965. Print.
Kubizek, August “The Young Hitler I Knew”. 1952. JR’s Rare Books and Commentary. Web.
Pattanaik, Dipti “The Holy Refusal”: A Vedantic Interpretation of J. D. Salinger’s Silence”. MELUS 23.2 (1998): 113-127. Print.
Salinger, Jerome “The Catcher in the Rye”. 1951. Knigka. Web.
Waite, Robert “Adolf Hitler’s Guilt Feelings: A Problem in History and Psychology”. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 1.2 (1971): 229-249. Print.
Whitfield, Stephen “Cherished and Cursed: Toward a Social History of The Catcher in the Rye”. The New England Quarterly 70.4 (1997): 567-600. Print
Jerome Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye Essay
This year, the world celebrated the 100th birth of the famous American writer, Jerome Salinger. The anniversary has given rise to the new debate around his work. However, it seems that people have been reading and discussing Salinger’s most prominent book, The Catcher in the Rye, since its first publication in 1951. The book has been especially popular among adolescents as it has managed to depict “the experience of millions of teenagers” (Priest 210). Although young people are encouraged to read this book and interpret it in their own way, it is still crucial that they do not misunderstand it. Thus, this paper, starting with the outline of characters and plot, discusses potential interpretations of The Catcher in the Rye and proposes the opinion of the paper’s author.
The Plot of the Book
The novel begins with 16-year-old Holden Caulfield recalling how he spent two days in New York before last Christmas. He is dismissed from the school again and after having a conflict with his roommate, decides to leave his sanatorium and go to New York. However, he cannot simply return home because parents believe that Holden is still in his school. This makes him stay at some hotel, but soon, he starts feeling very lonely. He visits nightclubs and calls a prostitute to his room, but it only makes him worse.
The next day, he meets his ex-girlfriend and classmate, but they cannot handle Holden’s behavior. After getting drunk, he comes to his family’s house to see his younger sister. During their conversation, he claims that he wants to be “the catcher in the rye,” which prevents small children from falling from the cliff. Holden leaves when he hears parents coming and tries to spend the night at the house of his former teacher. However, Holden interprets some of his teacher’s actions as harassment, and thus, has to spend the night at the railway station. The next day, he plans to run away, but when his sister insists on leaving with him, he takes her to the zoo instead. At the end of the story, Holden says he will start visiting another school in autumn.
Holden Caulfield and the Theme of the Book
It seems that The Catcher in the Rye solely concentrates on a single character – Holden Caulfield. All other characters serve the purpose of telling Holden’s story and showing his features. As it might be seen from the plot, the tragedy of Holden is that he can live neither with nor without people. In Holden’s view, the whole world is being “phony,” and he denies being a part of it (Nadel 8). As a result, he finds himself absolutely lonely and unable to establish contact with society. According to Yahya and Babaee, the mental condition of Holden can be described as “inconsolable mourning” (1827). This means that he cannot see any future for him in the world he belongs to, as it makes him confused. The famous scene from the book is when Holden sincerely asks the taxi driver where the ducks from the Central Park fly to in winter. This scene aims to show that Holden is embarrassed by the complexity of the world.
All feelings of Holden described above lead to his willingness to be “the catcher in the rye.” Holden wants to catch children who are playing by the cliff because he believes that they will soon find themselves in the same state of mind, and thus, need someone’s help (Anderson 65). In Holden’s view, only he is aware of the world’s phoniness and can help children not to fall from the cliff.
Although it is clear that The Catcher in the Rye focuses primarily on Holden Caulfield, understanding the book merely as the reflection of adolescent problems seems not entirely correct. The problems of growing up that were already discussed occupy an important place in Salinger’s novel, and its popularity is probably mostly due to them. However, some critics suggest that The Catcher in the Rye not only addresses the eternal issue of confrontation between a teenager and the world but also reveals and condemns some characteristics of a certain historical era. Yahya and Babaee view Salinger’s novel as an opposition to the values of post-war American society, especially to a “conformist culture” (1825). In that context, Holden Caulfield appears as the representative of society with a distinct system of values that does not tolerate conformism and phoniness.
At the same time, Holden expresses the trauma of those members of American society who have experienced war and saw all its misery. He constantly recalls his brother, Allie, and cannot bear this burden (Yahya and Babaee 1827). This may be similar to ex-soldiers reminiscing about their experience on the battlefield. All in all, it can be seen that Salinger’s book addresses specific social issues and is not limited to the problems of adolescence.
Personal Opinion on the Book
Now that the issue of the novel has been discussed, the author tries to express the opinion on the meaning of the “catcher in the rye” metaphor and the main message of the book. Obviously, the role of the catcher is to prevent children from falling from the cliff. Thus, the questions are who these children are and what falling from the cliff actually means. As it was discussed earlier, Holden believes that he needs to catch children because, in his view, they require his help to face this world when they grow up. On this occasion, falling from the cliff means becoming isolated and lost adolescents in the complex and unfriendly world full of duplicity, which has precisely happened to Holden.
However, it seems that the metaphor of “catcher in the rye” may be interpreted in a broader context. If Salinger tried to depict the controversies and problems of post-war America, then the role of the catcher could be understood as preventing future generations from creating a similar society. Holden realizes that there is no place in this world for him, but still, he hopes to catch the children and save them from entering it. If they fall from the cliff, they will also become “phonies,” and thus, another generation will be lost. The presence of the catcher symbolizes the hope for the new world, even though for Holden, it is probably out of reach.
It seems that Jerome Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye will remain one of the most famous books among young adults for years. Holden Caulfield embodies many challenges of adolescence, and that is what makes him so appealing to the reader. However, young readers of this book perhaps should understand it not only as a reflection of their problems. As it was shown in this paper, The Catcher in the Rye can be interpreted in a context broader than the challenges of adolescence. The book contains Salinger’s opposition to the post-war American society and its fundamental values. The phoniness and duplicity – so despised by Holden Caulfield – have not disappeared from the world and still guide people in many of their actions. Therefore, The Catcher in the Rye continues to be relevant nowadays and deserves the attention of readers, no matter if they are teenagers or adults.
Anderson, John P. Guide to Enjoying Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Franny, and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters. Universal Publishers, 2017.
Nadel, Alan. “Rhetoric, Sanity, and the Cold War: The Significance of Holden Caulfield’s Testimony.” J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, edited by Harold Bloom, Infobase Publishing, 2014, pp. 5-20.
Priest, Benjamin. “The Catcher in the Rye and the Ill Member of the Group: Holden Caulfield and Adolescent Development.” Psychodynamic Practice, vol. 22, no. 3, 2016, pp. 209-222.
Yahya, Wan Roselezam Wan and Ruzbech Babaee. “Salinger’s Depiction of Trauma in The Catcher in the Rye.” Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 4, no. 10, 2014, pp. 1825-1828.
J. D. Salinger’s the Catcher in the Rye Research Paper
J. D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye highlights various issues that teenagers contend with in their lives. Having been published in the mid 20th century, the novel has captured the attention of numerous readers. In fact, some highlight that novel is among the best works of literature to date.
It has won many prizes and praises from varied authors and readers. The protagonist of the novel, Holden Caulfield has influenced many teenagers and has become iconic figure in the context of the American society. Despite criticisms of the novel that criticize the explicit illustration of sexuality and other social issues like identity, it is imperative to notice that its influence throughout the century has been unsurpassed. This is a research paper on the novel that seeks to elucidate on the aspect of Holden’s detachment from reality.
Is the Protagonist a Hero or emotionally unstable?
While many readers have had an opportunity to analyze various characters throughout the book, it is important to note the protagonist, Holden Caulfield has various aspects that makes him to be a ‘hero’. At the outset, Graham points out that he has been able to resonate strongly with different readers of different social-economic backgrounds (45).
Many of the readers find his work very influential owing to the way he portrays the perspectives he holds about life. This influence has made the readers to fall into the temptations of redundancy in that many of them do not question his failures and shortcomings but perceives him as a heroic character (Magill 12). This aspect of his character has made the book not only exciting but also able to elicit many commendations across all social-economic divides.
There are various signs that the readers have persistently ignored relating to his troubled life. Graham says that Holden falls out of four schools, an aspect that parents and readers ought not to take positively (41). To the contrary, readers opt to ignore these aspects of Holden’s life placing little emphasis on his apparent failures. As such, the book projects a character that is influential and able to convince people in what Booth and Mays refers to as minority influence (34).
Further, it is recognizable that Holden suffers from mental disorders and traumas that obviously have had an effect on his perceptions and perspectives about life. The death of his brother has had an effect on his ability to project various aspects of life in a consistent and accurate manner. Besides, one of his fellow classmates commits suicide.
These two sources of emotional stress have apparently impaired his ability to present his views about the world precisely and accurately (Graham 67). Nonetheless, it is through of the ability of the protagonist to provide logical arguments that cannot match a mentally disturbed individual.
This makes the reader to assume that the character is of sound mind. Amazingly, it is these aspects of the book make him a hero to majority of the readers. The rationale is in his aptitude to convince his audience and influence them to dropping an objective perspective about the other characters and people in his society as depicted in the novel (Steinle 61).
Another peculiar aspect of the book and a testimony that the emotional state of Holden is ailing is his apparent judgmental positions he takes about events and people.
As Salinger hints, “…if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques” (131).
Booth and Mays highlight that he disparages boring people and those who express insecurities (51). It is also his nature throughout the novel to philosophize about life by labeling some people as phony as the above quote depicts. The usage of the word phony to refer to members of the society who act in ways that befit their social class or their careers is rampant throughout the novel.
The word phony as such, refers to those who act in a superficial way that contradicts the usage since we can argue that the protagonist is phony as well. Magill asserts that he uses his prejudice, attitude and values to judge other members of the society. This judgmental characteristic of the major character bespeaks his mental state.
Nevertheless, the protagonist catches the attention of the audience by making conclusions and judgments to a heightened level that they become comical. For instance, Holden says that some people are so insensitive that their tombstones will bear the title “fuck you” (Graham 56).
This characteristic of the novel has made it popular and loveable among teenagers and other members of the society. The reason is that the face value of the content impairs the ability of the reader to dig deep into the book and unravel some disturbing traits about Holden.
It is apparent that Holden has a particular negative attitude towards human sexuality. As Aaron claims, the book portrays him as a virgin although it is clear that he is usually interested in sexual activities (3). He spends a quite significant amount of time in his life attempting to have sex in order to be like the rest of his dorm mates and peers who have had sexual experiences.
Salinger says that, “If you want to know the truth, I’m a virgin. I really am. I’ve had quite a few opportunities to lose my virginity and all, but I’ve never got around to it yet” (91).
His perspective that sex ought to happen between people who experience deep emotions about each other is long drawn. Upon realization that casual sex is another aspect of sex that he did not explore, he becomes furious. For instance, he dated Jane whom he attests to have been in love with even now that she is seeing another boy who happens to be his classmate (Magill 63).
According Booth and Mays, it depicts emotional insecurity and jealousy, which projects him as a mentally disturbed teenager (34). The aspect that draws suspicion about his mental state and subjective opinions is when the tourists whom he cared little about arouse him. He picks a prostitute named Sunny at the Lavendor Hotel and assumes that it was due to a mere human weakness that is typical of phony people whom he finds to be stupid.
The author uses the right naming of his characters. Protagonists second name, caul, has a lot of significance in its meaning. In other words, the author tends to insinuate a person whose is ignorant of reality since he/she has been blinded by childish points of view.
Aaron asserts that it is important to notice that the author tends to explain the ways in which different people are ignorant of the actual and complex problems that occur in the world. Graham articulates that Holden (from the phrase hold on) as the name of the protagonist was indeed deliberate as he indicates that there was the need to enhance the ability to see the world from a perspective that is devoid of childhood.
There is also suspicion on the emotional state of the main character especially when relating to his interaction with other characters in the book. Phoebe, who is a sibling to the protagonist, becomes infuriated with Holden’s refusal to grow up. He claims to be the only perfect person able to resist the phoniness of the world and indeed concentrate on catching the rye for the innocent (Booth and Mays 45).
His decision to leave his family and indeed become deaf mute was a question of contention that appraises the character’s state of mind. It is unusual for a character who claims to possess the ideal traits of a society to reverse his decisions owing to influence of a child (Graham 74). In reality, Phoebe is six years younger than he is and seems to understand the world better than he does.
Salinger articulates this point by highlighting the protagonist saying, “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’s bad if you say anything to them” (211).
His shortcomings are also witnessed when he visits Mr. Antolini who had been his English teacher in search of a piece of advice. Although the former teacher seems to be wealthy of knowledge regarding human behavior in life, Holden seem to contradict even the most obvious pieces of advice he receives. He begins to view the advice based on his prejudice and values.
This is not only in contravention of a normal decision maker but also threatens to change the character’s values and beliefs. He also mistakes Mr. Antolini’s fatherly touch to homosexual urges making him to bear a negative attitude towards him (Steinle 13). Coupled with paranoia, the protagonist is explicitly suffering from mental disorder and it is surprising how the readers have opted to ignore these seemingly apparent negative traits possessed by the protagonist.
Finally, the main character has realized that he has been largely swayed to assume idealistic approaches to life as opposed to being realistic. His convictions are only comparable to non-existent state in life that makes him wonder extensively about life (Aaron 73). His detachment from reality is also clear when the protagonist sees Phoebe riding carousal and joy overwhelms him.
This is unusual, as it seems that the character is inclined to the idea that joy is only present during one’s childhood. Booth and Mays assert that the character is in a mentally disturbing position that is a negative and an abnormal attribute that many readers have ignored and in turn viewed him as the main character.
Nonetheless, we have seen in many occasions the protagonist changes his standpoints and his opposition to growth and is inconsistent with his values. First, the protagonist realizes that human sexuality is an important aspect of human life. Besides, it is entrenched in the culture of human beings.
Holden also notices that he had been making wrong decisions about life and particularly his option to drop out of school. The protagonist’s ability to make radical changes in his life has also projected him as a hypocrite who is not consistent with his values. It is not amazing that his decisions to leave his family and head to New York were challenged by his younger sister who seems to make better decisions than he does (Graham 73).
The protagonist also reviews his perception of life after his former English teacher, Mr. Antolini highlights to him that there was an apparent need to embrace humility instead of yearning to die nobly (Booth and Mays 72). This marks the realization that the world did not only require individuals who are able to cling to their convictions but also individuals who could easily adapt to the world.
It seems apparent that the character also begins to view the world from a broader scope than he used to earlier before. It is also important to notice that Holden seemed to be at loggerheads with his parents, which is a cause of concern among many of his peers and siblings. As the author notes, Holden was not at the best of terms with his family and could only sneak into their home to visit Phoebe. This makes the massive influence that he imparts on the readers to be pointless.
After the death of his classmates, Holden is also concerned on ways in which he can reconstruct his life and meet the demands of the society. His apparent loneliness has had a tremendous effect on his life and ought to reflect concerns that people ought not to underscore during the entire book. In fact, the author exclaims that the protagonists had gotten used to visiting the museums and had even comprehended the positions that different artifacts held within the gallery.
Salinger highlights the protagonist saying, “Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that’s impossible, but it’s too bad anyway” (122).
It is also important to notice that the author misunderstands the concept of catching the rye and believes that he had the role of protecting the innocent from falling into the trap of phony and pervasive life.
In sum, the level of detachment from the reality that the main character exhibits is overwhelming. Touted by many readers as the hero of the book, Holden raises suspicions about his mental state and perception about life. Clearly, the character lacks emotional and mental stability making his conclusions and about life to be long drawn.
Having suffered stress and psychological trauma, the perceptions held by the main character are inconsistent with reality making it a devastating mistake to assume the heroic role of the story. He is mistaken about people and labels people as phony in addition to making quick generalizations about life. As such, it is imperative to distinguish his emotional state and reality when branding Holden as the hero of the book.
Aaron, Jane. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook, New York: Pearson Education, 2009. Print.
Booth, Alison and Mays, Kelly. The Norton Introduction to Literature, New York: Norton Publishers, 2011. Print
Graham, Sarah. J.D. Salinger’s the Catcher in the Rye, New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Magill, Frank. J. D. Salinger: Magill’s Survey of American Literature, New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1991. Print.
Salinger, Daniel. The Catcher in the Rye, New York: Blackwell Publishers, 1951. Print
Steinle, Pamela. In Cold Fear: The Catcher in the Rye Censorship Controversies and Postwar American Character, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 2000. Print.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger Essay
Published in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye, written by J. D. Salinger became one of his most controversial novels and a cultural phenomenon. This book is one of the most widely taught and commonly banned works of literature of all time (Benson & Salinger, 2018). There are debates on the topic of the novel’s morality and censorship as it touches upon such mature subjects as alcohol abuse, sex, profanity, and prostitution. The story is also known for being a sort of critique of the superficiality and “phoniness” in society and the adult world in particular (Salinger, 2010). This paper aims to summarize the plot of the novel, to discuss the central themes and the main characters, and to provide a personal review of the book.
The Plot Summary of the Novel
Holden Caulfield is a sixteen-year-old narrator and protagonist of the novel, who is currently getting help in a mental hospital. Holden tells a story that happened to him in December, which begins with his expulsion from Pencey Prep School in Pennsylvania after failing almost all his classes. The same night he gets into a fight with his roommate Stadlater over a girl. This sends Holden over the edge, and he leaves the school and returns to New York early. However, instead of going to the family apartment and admitting his expulsion from the school, he wanders around New York City until it is time to go home for Christmas.
While being in New York City, Holden meets female tourists and has a meeting with a prostitute, which ends in a mere conversation and a punch in Holden’s stomach. The next day Holden goes on a date with his ex-girlfriend Sally, who he asks to run away with him, and who he offends after she refuses. At night he secretly enters his home to see his little sister Phoebe, who, as he claims, is the greatest girl in the world, but when their parents return home, he sneaks back out. Holden later goes to Mr. Antolini, who used to be his English teacher and stays there overnight. Although, when he wakes up at night by him stroking Holden’s forehead, he leaves.
Having made the decision to run away, Holden sends Phoebe a note where he asks her to meet at the museum so they can say their goodbyes. When they meet, Phoebe has a suitcase in her hands and says that she will run away with him, but Holden rejects her and takes her to the zoo, where she rides a carousel. Watching his little sister ride a carousel, Holden decides to stay and finally declares that he is happy (Salinger, 2010). The whole story is based on Holden’s adventure as he gets a glimpse of the real world ruled by adults.
The Main Characters and Central Themes
The Main Characters
The Catcher in the Rye portraits many important and somewhat symbolic characters, who are depicted to the reader through Holden’s point of view. The central figure of the story Holden Caulfield is faced with various philosophical questions along the way and ends up emotionally unstable. He goes to New York and enters an adult life, which he hates and thinks it is phony: “People are always ruining things for you” (Salinger, 2010, p. 51). He appears to be disappointed in almost everyone he meets, but not children. It is as if he still acts like a child himself: “People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead?”(Salinger, 2010, p. 90). He perceives the situation the same way a child would – in the most innocent manner possible. Holden thinks people put flowers on the stomach of the person, whereas the person does not even exist anymore, and their bodies lay deep underground, not on the surface. It almost seems that Holden does not have an understanding of the real idea of death, just like children do not.
The two people who affected Holden’s pessimistic mental state were his brother Allie and his former classmate James Castle, who committed suicide by jumping off a building in a turtle-neck that Holden loaned to him. He faces problems while growing up and struggles to deal with them, which leads to his alienation and isolation from society (Jasim & Lateef, 2019). According to Corso (2016), “In such a digression in the narrative, Holden shows how webbed memories of people and incidents seem to be in his unfolding lead-up to his mental breakdown” (p. 93). The only person who Holden wants to talk to is his little sister Phoebe. She is the one who, in the end, makes him realize how ridiculous his plan to run away is. She is also the only person who gets the answer from Holden to a question of who he wants to be, which is one of the central points in the story.
One of the main themes of the novel is innocence and childhood. The title of the book The Catcher in the Rye is who Holden tells Phoebe he wants to be. He wants to stand on the edge of the cliff while children play in the rye, and if any of them start to fall off a cliff, he will catch them. This imagery is a symbol of Holden trying to save the innocence of the society, which only children possess. However, in the end, Holden accepts the fact growing up is inevitable and that he needs to stop trying to protect every child from the adult world. “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’s bad if you say anything to them” (Salinger 2010, p 124.). The theme of innocence circles around throughout the novel and concludes at the end by Holden finally being happy.
The book uses quite a modern language and, surprisingly enough, incorporates the contemporary slangs of that time used among youth. Some may agree that a book is good when it is highly symbolic, and surely enough, The Catcher in the Rye is significantly full of symbols. All the symbols in the novel connect to either Holden’s personality or his past. For instance, his red hunting hat was his self-identification and almost a way of isolating himself from everybody else. He purposely put it on to separate himself from society. Ducks are the symbol of change, and whenever Holden asks where did the ducks go, he wonders about the real-life changes, moreover, he dreads them. The criticizing manner with which Holden observed the world is depressing at times, yet thought-provoking.
Shortly after being published, The Catcher in the Rye has reached tremendous success. This is perhaps due to the fact that it touches upon the sharp, mature topics. The protagonist is a sixteen-year-old boy who struggles with mental health issues, considering the fact that he ends up in a hospital. The book became popular amongst the youth because it is connected with their mindsets and views on society. Even to this day, it continues to remain popular among teenagers and young adults.
Benson, J., & Salinger, J. D. (2018). J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye: A cultural history. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
Corso, G. S. (2016). Allie, Phoebe, Robert Emmet, and Daisy Mae: Love, loss, and grief in JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Alice McDermott’s Child of My Heart. Teaching American Literature, 8(3), 92-111.
Jasim, M. N., & Lateef, W. A. (2019). Isolation and escapes from reality in Salinger’s the Catcher in the Rye. Journal of Al-Frahedis Arts, 33, 33-42.
Salinger, J. D. (2010). The catcher in the rye. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Analysis "The Catcher In The Rye"
In the real world, there is no Peter Pan or Neverland that can help us escape the reality of adulthood. As we get older, our views of how the world once was, though childish eyes, is changed and now we have to conform to the ideals of the rest of the world. Although, this idea to conform is challenged in the novel, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salanger. The novel is about a 16 year old boy named Holden Caulfield, who flunked out of school and runs away to New York for three days as a means to escape the disappointment of his parents and the world.
Holden struggles with his mental health as it slowly deteriorates because he has not fully accepted the death of his younger brother, Allie. He has turned his back on the world and is hell-bent on preventing himself and others from reaching adulthood and becoming phony. But, as the story progresses, Holden’s ignorance of the fact the he can’t stop others or himself from growing up and his ideals that children are perfect begin to change.
Holden meets these coming of age elements to demonstrate that he is a coming of age character.
One of the coming of age character elements Salinger uses is ignorance to knowledge. Holden doesn’t realize and is ignorant of the fact that growing up is a part of life that everyone has to go through, no matter how severe or painful it might be. But by the end of the novel Holden learns to accept that. The author uses symbolism to support this idea. Throughout the story, we start to see how much Holden idealizes children. He not only idealizes them, he seems to have this parental need to want to protect them from the corrupt adult world. He wants to keep from becoming phony adults who conform to the rest of the world’s ideals. An elaborate example of this would be when Phoebe ask Holden what he wants to be when he grows up. ‘You know what I’d like to be? I mean if i had a goddamn choice… I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in a big field of rye and all.
Thousands of little kids, and nobody around- nobody big, I mean except me. And I’m standing there on the edge of some crazy cliff- I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them??¦ I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. (Salinger 191)’ The rye, for Holden, symbolizes childhood, innocence, and purity. Holden wants to keep them all there to protect them from falling off the cliff, the cliff symbolizes adulthood. If the kids fall off the cliff, they will be corrupted and become what Holden despises the most. But, if he’s there to catch them, that won’t happen and he will keep them safe and pure. This symbol demonstrates how much Holden ignorantly believes that he can stop others from growing up. He doesn’t realise that falling is exactly what he has to let the kids do.
Towards the end of the novel, we see that Holden is beginning to see that maybe he can’t protect kid’s innocence. At the end of chapter 25, Holden and Phoebe go to the Zoo. There they find a carousel and Phoebe goes on. As Holden watches Phoebe, he notices that she was reaching for a golden ring that was on the carousel. At first, Holden was afraid because he doesn’t want Phoebe to fall off her horse. ‘All the kids kept trying to grab the golden ring, and so was old Phoebe, and i was sort of afraid that she would fall off the goddamn horse. (Salinger 232)’ The horse symbolize childhood and Phoebe reaching for the ring symbolizes her reaching for adulthood. Phoebe was reaching for the ring and that scared Holden, that she was reaching for adulthood; then, that she would fall off.
The fall symbolizing a fall from innocence. Similar to how the kids would fall off the cliff into adulthood if Holden didn’t save them. But in that moment, Holden realizes that he just has to let her fall. ‘The thing with kids is, if they want to grab the gold ring, you have to let them, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off,… (Salinger 232).’ This example clearly shows that Holden has transition and has gone from being ignorant to acknowledging that Holden in that moment, finally understands that he can’t protect all the kids from falling. That he can’t keep them from reaching adulthood. No matter how hard he tries he can’t stop the inevitable from happening.
Another coming of age elements Salinger uses in the novel is idealism to realism. This is when a character in a story, sees things in a perfect or ideal manner but then begins to face the reality of the situation. In just the first few chapters of the novel, we soon realize that Holden idealizes children, he perceives children as perfect and innocent. On the other hand, in Holden’s eyes, adults are all phony and anything related to adults he despises. But, by the end of the novel Holden starts to see that maybe children aren’t as perfect as he once thought.
The Catcher in the Rye Analysis
Growing up is the hardest thing in our life. It can be the most cheerful time that may become the time which you will expect, however it can be the most depressed time which you wish time can go faster at that moment. The main character of Peter Pan and The Catcher in the Rye, who are Peter Pan and Holden Caulfield have all wished not growing up.
Although they are the similar person who wishes they will not grow up, there are differences between them. I agree in a large extent that In essence, Holdenr’s problem in The Catcher in the Rye arise because he is a Peter Pan figure, never wanting to grow up.. Holden and Peter Pan they both see themselves as a protector of innocence, having the desire of saving innocent children due to their sympathy. For Peter Pan, after he accomplished his escape, he tried to saves children by inviting them to get to Neverland with him, who are orphans and ignored by parents, the Lost Boys. A typical example of Holden says he wanted to be a catcher in the rye. He pictures a lot of children playing in a big field around the edge of a cliff while he imagines he would catch any children if they start to go over the cliff away from falling down. This indicates that he had the desire of protecting the innocence, especially as a primary virtue. Besides, Holden and Peter Pan, they both exemplify typical teenage feeling of alienation, hiding from the reality and afraid of change.
For Peter Pan, the Neverland was created by him in order to escape from the reality. And when he was unsatisfied of the request from Wendy of leaving Neverland, he was afraid of the change of the atmosphere in their cabin after Wendy left. In an article, it pointed out Holden wanted nothing to do with the world although everything is wrong with the society, it outlined Holden is a fragile person to take any blame or face disappointment. A typical example of Holdenr’s love toward the American Museum of Natural History. The museum display is always frozen and unchanging, everything keeps in a simple, understandable way, which appeal to Holden. This indicates that he is terrified by the unpredictable changes of the world since he also hates conflicts, confused by Allier’s senseless death and fear of interaction with people. Moreover, Holden and Peter Pan, they both have alienation and loneliness. For Peter Pan, when Wendy and the Lost boy go back to the place where they belong to instead of the Neverland, he becomes pessimistic and all by himself after all. In a research, it pointed out that Holden is not a conversationalist since he has trouble getting along with his roommates and the teacher and his background, which created a lot of troublesome that once his father met with the principle and the teacher. A typical example of Holden arrived in New York, he kept think of who he could make content with, he did think of a range of people he knows , for instance, Jane.
However, he does not have the courage to make the phone call, ending up with calling nobody. This indicates his calls to Jane Gallagher are aborted to protect his precious and fragile sense of individuality. On the other hand, unlike Holden, the motivation of Peter Pan saving the children is different. Peter Pan saves children because of his loneliness, he has no one to be with at the first place in Neverland, he does not want to be alone then he save the Lost Boys of saying he save them from the crude family whose ignored them and away from the world. In fact, he saves children due to his selfishness to fill in the hole of his heart, finding someone he can communicate with and always agree with him to avoid conflict. On the opposite, the purpose of Holden saving children because he thought the world is lousy. A typical example of Holden goes to Phoeber’s school to leave a note, he gets mad when he sees violent language are written on the wall, he wants to erase as soon as possible to avoid any children see it. This indicates Holden is thinking more about the children from the deepest of his heart than Peter Pan. In conclusion, despite the difference of the motivation of saving children, since Holden and Peter Pan are similar to the behavior to be the protector of innocence, thought of being alienation and characteristic of being distant to the world and loneliness, I agree in a large extent in the statement of In essence, Holdenr’s problem in The Catcher in the Rye arise because he is a Peter Pan figure, never wanting to grow up.
The Catcher in the Rye Reader Response Essay
A book should be valued by the lesson taught. “The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” -James Bryce. My book is the Catcher in the Rye by J.
D. Salinger. I feel like a lot can be taken away from the book, but I also feel like there are some elements of the book that could have been better, or could have been better understood. Some places in the book it seems to go on and on, but other places in the book are really deep and relatable. The beginning of the novel introduces some of the characters and starts to explain what led to holden getting suspended. 16-year-old Holden Caulfield is going through struggles.
At the beginning of the novel, Holden talks about failing almost all of his classes. He goes to say goodbye to Mr. Spencer, his history teacher. Holden seems to have a negative attitude about pretty much everything in his life. And when something good happens, it either gets ruined or he ruins it because he doesn’t have many good things happen. Many of the experience he talks about are very relatable. Academic struggles, addictions, friendship problems, and fights. Holden finds the world around him almost unbearable. He uses the hardships of life against other people. Stradlater is one of Holden’s roommates at Pencey. Stradlater is known as handsome and popular. But Holden explained that in his own privacy, he’s actually a really messy person. Phoebe Caulfield is Holden’s ten-year-old sister. He says that even though Phoebe is 6 years younger than Holden, she understands more than most people. Phoebe holds maturity for her age and provides the most happiness for him.
This novel doesn’t really seem to have a real ending. At the end of the novel, he talks about taking Phoebe on the carousel, and he actually seemed to be enjoying himself. “I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth.” (212) He says he doesn’t wanna talk about what happened after that, so I think he wanted to enjoy himself for once in his life. I think by the end of the novel Holden had changed drastically, as far as his attitude towards his life. At the very end of the book, 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, but I don’t feel like it. I really don’t. That stuff doesn’t interest me too much right now.” (213) He’s talking about getting out of the mental hospital, but he doesn’t want to talk about the bad times now that he has the joy of Phoebe in mind. Here’s what I personally can take from the novel.
I think it teaches you that it’s important to contain a positive relationship with not only others but with yourself as well. Having positive relationships with people you love and care about, and who make you happy can help you through the hardships of life. This book is definitely an emotional rollercoaster for most of the characters, and possibly even the reader. In real life, you should definitely keep everyone and everything important to you very close because nothing last forever, and your happiness could fade away in seconds. A book should be looked at by what the reader can take away from it. This book had a lot of ups and downs, and definitely a lot of changes. But in the end, Holden seemed to find happiness and he wanted to leave it at that. When Holden finds little joy in his life, he becomes fulfilled and he doesn’t think the rest of his life is important anymore. I think overall it was a pretty good book.
Holden In The Novel The Catcher in the Rye
In J.D. Salingerr’s, The Catcher in the Rye, Childhood and adolescence are depicted by times of innocence and wonder. Throughout Salingerr’s novel, the main character, Holden, struggles with the concept of growing up in life. While Holden, wanting to act more like an adult such as his friends, Holden always finds a way to stay on the path of the youth. Throughout the novel, Holden struggles between the line youth and the line of maturity and this causes Holden great hardships.
Let’s start with how Holden struggles to become mature throughout the novel. Holden is a very undecided and child-like character. Holden, basically experiencing peer pressure from his colleagues, feels the need to participate in sexual activities. Many of Holdenr’s colleagues are active in sex, especially with Stradlater, Holdenr’s roommate. With most of these students doing these kind of activities, Holden feels that this is the more mature thing to do; however, he can not achieve that kind of maturity in this novel. Even when Holden eventually persuaded himself to buy a hooker for a night, he still can not go through with the act of sex, thus depicting the character traits of both innocence and adolescence in Holden.
Holdenr’s uncertainty hangs on to him throughout the entire novel. Not only with not being able to engage in sex, but Holden does not let the audience know how strong his feelings are for his crush, Jane, the character that Holden assumes has done the mature acts with Stradlater. The audience can easily decide that Holden has great feelings for Jane, but of course Holden doesnt express his love for Jane enough. He is uncertain about a lot of things in this novel such as his feelings for Jane and how she feels about Holden, and the world, in general. Holden countlessy points out people that he meets throughout the book act and how he thinks of the people. For example, Holden goes to see his history teacher, Mr. Spencer at the beginning of the book, before leaving Pencey. Holden judges his teacher in many ways like with how he was dressed in a bathrobe and even when he was going to die. Like all children and adolescents, Holden mainly daydreamed and judged Mr. Spencer while he was talking to Holden.
With Holdenr’s immaturity and how he deals with situations, which is by putting them off for as long as he can, caused him to live in a world of uncertainty. Holden only saw the world in a way that he felt everyone should see. He thought of others as phonies perhaps because these people have two faces, meaning that they act one way around certain people and another around others. Teachers were a prime example of being two faced because the way a teacher acts in school was completely different than the way he or she acted at home or out in public, away from schooling.
Holden is a very complicated boy, yet is very intriguing. Holden has a very unique viewpoint on life mainly that deal with how children should stay as adolescents such as himself. However, Holden realizes near the end of the novel that this dream of his may not be able to happen, because everyone, no matter the race, religion, pigmentation of skin, or different hobbies of a person, have to eventually grow up. These people eventuallyenventually have to mature, and understand and see the world in a new way, a way of understanding responsibilities and that actions have consequences.
Terror In The Catcher in the Rye
Throughout the novel Holden goes through a series of changes which, in turn, shapes the novel. As the adolescent he is, he makes choices that lead him to experiences in both a wonderous and innocent sense, as well as a more turbulent and terroristic sense. At the start of the novel The Catcher in the Rye holden is expelled and begin seeking ideals through a more turbulent perspective, however, by the end of the story he is overcoming these logics and becoming a more sane and innocent adolescent.
Throughout the novel Holden experiences tribulation and terror from being expelled and his reasons for being expelled, as well as his actions once he reaches the city. By the latter part and end of the novel he experienced innocence and realized his wrong doings, causing him to believe in a more caring and wondrous perspective, now being ready to grow up.
Due to Holdenr’s depression at the beginning of the story, and his increasing depression throughout the story he faces many poor decisions on his behalf. After leaving Pencey Preparatory holden flees to New York where he encounters feelings of anger, depression, and arousal. During this time he calls a stripper in order to fulfill his needs, however, she tells him the next day would be fine and he declines, not her. This angered him leading him to make more poor choices. This ideology causes him to act on his not so innocent ways and face terror and tribulation. He ends up in a bar later on in the story, getting drunk, dwelling in his thoughts of anger and depression. This tribulation is very important in shaping the story because without his poor decision making the story would have fallen through, and he might not have reached a better state of mind by the end of the novel. After getting drunk Holden finds his way back to his hotel where he encounters a prostitute, which he does nothing with, and gets beat up for not paying for the encounter. This tribulation that occurs throughout this portion of the novel shapes Holdenr’s story and his life.
Leading toward the end of the novel, holden reflects on his previous decision and the tribulation and terror that resulted from those decisions. By this point Holden realizes that he does in fact need to grow up at some point. When he finally returns home Holden avoids telling his parents about his troubles and hsi encounters after leaving Pencey. He does not want his father to kill him, nor does he want them to confront him and judge him on his wrong doings. At this point in the novel Holdenr’s experiences and actions are becoming more innocent and wonderous. He now wants to change for the better, and explore growing up. The end of the novel is shaped by this. Holden changed his ways, for the better, and the novel turned around in his favor. Holden will not have tribulation or terror any longer, more so he will have a sense of curiosity, and innocence as he now begins to grow up.
Holden began the story experiencing tribulation, which occurred throughout most of the novel. However, by the end of the story he overcame his terror and bad choices, and became a better person. By this point he was ready to grow up. The story as a whole was shaped by Holdenr’s tribulation as an adolescent, as he experienced different things. The resolution of the story was shaped by his new found innocence, which lead him to be ready to become a grown up. Without this sense of change and new character, the sort would not have ended the way it did, and the starting tribulation would have occurred until the end of the novel, reflecting Holdenr’s poor decisions.
Suicide Is A Severe Topic In Catcher in The Rye Essay
Tone is an important part of J.D. Salingerr’s ability to connect to the reader through Holdenr’s voice, while still introducing the reader to more serious topics. Tone can be defined as the attitude the author or speaker has towards his subject.
In this novel Holdenr’s tone of narration and J.D. Salingerr’s undertones differ greatly. Holden uses many informal slang words throughout the novel as he speaks to the reader in a very casual way. J.D. Salinger introduces many serious topics through the informal voice of his protagonist, giving the novel a more serious note. Even though Holdenr’s tone in The Catcher in the Rye is very informal and sarcastic, J.D. Salingerr’s undertones are much more serious.
Holdenr’s tone as he speaks to the reader is very informal and sarcastic as he discusses his experiences through New York City. In the first sentence of the novel Holden speaks very casually, using many slang words. The first thing youll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like…all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I dont feel like going into it. (Salinger 1). Immediately Holden speaks to the reader using very casual vocabulary, including slang such as his use of lousy and crap. He talks to the reader as if he were having a conversation with them, as he uses the personal pronoun you. Holden frequently uses slang in the novel, he also uses basic non descriptive vocabulary. He often uses goddamn and phony and, dough instead of money, as well as low level non descriptive vocabulary such as like or nice. His non descriptive vocabulary leaves a very casual note in addition to the slang which is sarcastic and informal. Holdenr’s tone is informal due to his use of personal pronouns, in addition to simple vocabulary and slang he uses sarcastically.
J.D. Salingerr’s undertones are more serious unlike his protagonist. J.D. Salinger addresses serious topics through Holdenr’s experiences. Finally, what he did instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window. (Salinger 170). Suicide is a severe topic, Holden talking about his experiences with it gives J.D. Salinger the ability to talk about suicide in a relatable way, while still informing his readers on the dangers of suicide and depression. Salinger informs the reader through experiences Holden has. Holden is woken up on Mr. Antolinir’s couch. Mr. Antolini is patting his head. Holden is immediately frightened by this and, as he leaves Mr. Antolinir’s apartment, he mentions this kind of situation has happened to him many times before. J.D. Salinger leaves an impact on the reader as he warns them about perverts through Holdenr’s disturbing experiences. J.D. Salinger brings serious undertones to the novel as he talks about suicide, depression and perverts.