About the Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield is a teenager growing up in America in the 50’s. Even though he is just a teenager, he has already had to endure a lot of trials and tribulations: both physically and mentally. Upon being expelled, he runs away from his exclusive preparatory school in Pennsylvania, and spends a little time in New York. While there he realizes he must grow up. Although Holden isn’t able to express himself practically, the way he thinks is identical to the average teenager. Holden begins to demonstrate many emotions, loneliness being one of them. He is eager for adult conversations and willing to learn what adults talk about on a regular. Not only is Holden wanting to converse and have brilliant conversations; he’s not sure if he wants a relationship with society or companionship. Holden is a complicated individual with countless issues and characteristics that cause conflict in his life. He has goals, and wants to do things in his life; however, he is dealt a hand of problems and don’t know how to outweigh the good and the bad. The problems that he is dealt and the incompatibility cause him to be better to a certain extent but also hold him back. One of the problems that Holding is facing is being lonely. Being lonely and not having people to hear him out is a problem for Holden.
The concept of growing up is unfamiliar to Holden and in a way he seems scared. He doesn’t realize that his actions show his immaturity. He has hopes of saving the youth form corruption but in reality he’s the one who needs saving. Being that he is only sixteen, he has been through a lot. He has already been involved in many of the pleasures and problems that come with being an adult. Holden begins to drink, go on dates with a prostitutes, and spend unnecessary money. He does all of this but still wants to keep his innocence. Holden has good intentions but does not see how he has fallen into the world of corruption. He is able to point out corruption the in everything around him but does not see his part in it. His ideals of innocence restrict his desires to mature and become a part of society. For some reason he cannot accept the fact that one day all children have to cross the same threshold in life. On several occasions Holden is told to calm down and not let his feelings get the best of him. What he is going through is totally normal; however, Holden does not feel that way. He seems to be going through phase, like most teenagers; but, all phases come to an end. Everyone deals with things in different ways. Although past outcomes affect present decision making, most are able to overcome hardship and rise above adversity. The challenges Holden face are example of the struggles teenagers face today. By taking what Holden has been through and how he handled each situation, today’s teenagers could learn a lot. Most teenagers look forward to adulthood. Once they realize all the responsibilities that comes with being an adult it can be overwhelming, resulting in the teenage anxiety often connected to adolescence. Holden is afraid of leaving his childhood and crossing over into adulthood and becoming a phony adult. But Holden plays the phony role to blend in with other adults. To Holden, the word phony describes the adult world’s deceit and shallowness.
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What conflicts Holden about the world is the constant battle of being adults and staying true to his values. Holden’s definition of an immoral person is a phony. This depiction is often harsh and undeserved to many of the people he applies this characteristic to. He feels most adults are phony and that by dodging adulthood, he will not become phony. However, after attending a numerous private schools, he sees the phoniness of the adult world rubbing off on the students who are in transition into adulthood. To cope with his fear of adulthood, Holden chooses judge all peers and adults on their phoniness. Since he criticizes everyone he meets, Holden cannot seem form a firm relationship which pushes him deeper into isolation. There are a few hidden layers to Holden’s mind. If you take a look at his childhood, he suffered a significant amount of trauma which explains his current state of mind. One of the most painful moments of Holden’s childhood was the death of his brother Allie. Due to leukemia, the tragic death of Allie, has a lot to do with his mental condition. He mentions his younger sister, Phoebe, whom he adores. But he doesn’t see her often and the distance puts a strain on his heart. Holden also feels a since of separation from his oldest brother D.B who has relocated to California. In result, Holden is distant to the people who are dear to him. Holden’s interest with kids and their way of thinking is his way of coping and mourning Allie’s death. While trying not the change, he is still holding on to the thought of Allie. Holden is having a very hard time grieving with the early death of Allie. It does seem that Holden has fallen into a schizophrenic disorder that is deterring him from moving on. Holden constantly has his deceased brother on this mind. While walking around New York City, Holden has a breakdown. In his head he cries out for his brother to protect him. As a result of his decline in mental stability on how to deal with death, Holden grows an obsession with it. His new found obsession may be the major key to unlocking the inner operations of Holden’s brain.
In addition to the cries of personal loss, Holden also desires a pause in time because of his fear of losing his moral purity. This is shown when Holden speaks about how his older brother, D.B., has lost his moral standards in the pursuit of fame. Holden feels D.B. has strayed far from his truly respectable writing when D.B. sold himself out to the expectations of Hollywood. The story of Holden’s life is told as a coming-of-age story with several plot twist. Normally in novels like this the main character starts in trouble, grows through their hardships, faces adversity, but in the end they triumph through all the pain right into glory; that is not the case in the story. Holden’s story beings in trouble, he struggles in his tribulations, has an epiphany while seeing Phoebe on the ride, and then he suffers a physical and emotion breakdown. In addition to the cries of personal loss, Holden also desires a pause in time because of his fear of losing his moral purity. This is shown when Holden speaks about how his older brother, D.B, has lost his moral standards in pursuit of fame. Holden feels D.B has strayed far from his truly respectable writing when D.B sold himself out to the expectations of Hollywood. This story redefines the focus of the literary text. Instead of focusing on the development of the plot it focuses on the development of Holden. Some critics view Holden’s character as destructive, uncouth, complaining, and pessimistic, but others would suggest that there is more to Holden than his academic failures and teenage uncertainty: He is subtle, imaginative, and bright in his own way. By focusing on Holden’s ability to use language creatively, he considers himself the best liar a person could ever meet. Speaking is another major asset in Holden’s character. Even though Holden doesn’t measure up to worlds expectations, he is a smooth talker who keeps the readers interested by the way he embellishes his version of the story using the slang of the 1950s. As the novel progresses, Holden starts to mature. Once he notices his sister Phoebe is also maturing he allows her to live her own life. He finally understands that children have to go through things, and there is nothing adults can do to stop it.
Although Holden’s own ripening has begun. He is ready to surrender to the inevitability that he has to grow up. Not only is he ready to grow up Holden took all of his life experiences and now can reflect on them. Whether it’s about his brother D.B. moving to California and becoming a successful writer or his brother passing away from leukemia, Holden has all of these life changing event that’s made him who he is today. As a result, Holden behavior shows why the author took the route that he took to write the novel. J.D Salinger went through a lot in his life. He experienced World War II where he suffered from nervous breakdowns. Just like Holden, Salinger attended prep schools where her found it difficult to adjust. His father enrolled him in a military academy where he served as a literary editor for the year book. Salinger also married when he was very young. He was very attracted to younger girls and use to cheat on his wife. In the story we found how Holden was scared to talk to older woman, but on the other hand he wanted that companionship from woman. In this case we see that the author and Holden has a lot in common. They both at some point in their life has been on edge of a nervous breakdown and isolated from others. In summary, The Catcher in the Rye story is one that many would pick up and begin to read and just think he’s just a crazy teenager and have no respect. However, once you begin to read the story and get to know Holden you understand him and also understand why he acted the way he did. Many teenagers today have similar issues that Holden experienced during the story. After I read the story it makes me want to watch my children closely and make sure I have that one on one relationship with them so that they are not afraid to grow up and be adults. The Catcher in the Rye story is one that I will always be ready to talk about and discuss with friends or even co/workers. The Catcher in the Rye is a story that symbolize that it is easier to have physical pain then to suffer from emotions or opinions or what other may think of you. Emotional stress can lead to mental breakdowns. It’s important to maintain your mental health. Letting others pray on your insecurities can kill your confidence; resulting in failures in difficult situations. Luckily Holden was able to overcome his fears and insecurities allowing him to help the children in the Rye.