Catcher In The Rye

Catcher In The Rye The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, portrays Holden Cawfield a New York City teenager in the 1950’s as a manic-depressive. Holden’s depression starts with the death of his brother, Allie . Holden is expelled from numerous schools due to his poor academics which are brought on by his depression. Manic depression, compulsive lying, and immaturity throughout the novel characterize Holden. Events in Holden’s life lead him to become depressed. Holden’s depression centers on Allie.

The manner that Holden sees himself and how he sees others leads him to be expelled from school. The speaker expresses, “One thing about packing depressed me a little,” (51). Holden expresses these feelings when he packs his bags after being notified that he is expelled. Holden leaves school and heads for New York City, where he finds himself to be more lonely and depressed than ever. He is all alone and he laments, ” What I really felt like doing was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out of the window,” (104). Holden says this while he is all alone in his motel room.

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He is too ashamed of himself to return home, he knows that his mother will be upset and his father will be angry with him. He also adds that ” I wasnt feeling sleepy or anything, but I was feeling sort of lousy. Depressed and all, I almost wished I was dead,” (90). Holden states this during one of the first nights that he is staying in New York. Holden expresses many thoughts of depression. Compulsive lying is another characteristic that Holden exhibits.

Holden would tell people lies just so they could not become closer to the real Holden. Holden tells lies on numerous occasions to gain. Holden pathetically tells Mrs. Morrow, ” I have to have a tiny operation.. it isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on my brain” (58). She tells Holden that she is very sorry and she is hopeful that he shall be well soon.

Holden then catches him self in a lie and he remarkes, “Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it,” (58). This compulsive lying shows that Holden is not satisfied with himself and that he feels that people will judge him critically. Holden is also a very immature person. He becomes very jealous and he pretends that recess is everywhere. Holden shows his jealousy when he finds out that his roommate is dating Jane Gallagher. Jane is Holden’s next door neighboor.

He confessed,” I could hardly keep my voice from shaking all over the place. Boy, was I getting nervous” (42). Holden expresses these feelings to the reader while he is talking to Stradlater about Jane. The jealousy and immaturity of Holden leads them into a fight. Holden is also immature in the relationships that he has with females. He explains the cab ride to the theater with Sally, ” We horsed around a little bit in the cab on the way over to the theater.

At first she didn’t want to, because she had her lipstick on and all, but I was being seductive as hell and she didnt have any alternative”(125). He continues to tell her how much he loved her and then he regrets saying that because he really does not. Holden’s depression, immaturity, and suicidal thoughts lead Holden to the rest home where he tells this story. The characteristics that Holden portrays lead him to being expelled from school, problems with his parents, and problems in his social life. Had Holden not been suicidal and immature he would.

Catcher In The Rye

Catcher In The Rye The setting for the Catcher in the Rye was in New York around the 1950s. The novel covered about four days from beginning to end. The setting took place in a mental hospital in California where he flashes back to these four days in New York. This was were his family lived and thats why this was important for the setting. There was one main character in this book and his name was Holden Caulfield. He was very smart and he was always thinking about something.

He wanted people not to be phony but this never happened the way he wanted it. He never changed his thinking about people but in the end he did miss them. I liked all the characters except Holden because he always had too many thoughts. I did like his sister because she was always nice to him and forgiving. The most important conflict in the novel was when he was going to say good bye to his sister at the end of the book.

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The most exciting part was when he went back home to visit her. The plot of Catcher in the Rye began with Holden being expelled from school. He left school and took a train to New York. While he was there, he went to parks, museums and bars and met an old friend named Sally Hayes and also a former teacher of his. He finally met up with his sister who seemed to be the only person he really cared for and she was able to talk him into going back home with her.

The story is told using flash-backs because the entire time he is talking to his psychiatrist in a hospital. The point of view is first person. Because of this, you only see Holdens view of the events and how he perceives people. The impact of the story would change if you had other characters reactions to what Holden was saying and doing. Holden Caulfield was disgusted at the way the whole world seemed false to him. He was disgusted at the way his brother “sold out” and went to Hollywood and was now what he considered to be a phony. Holden was very affectionate and loving to his sister.

She was the only person that he really wanted to see in New York. Holden was very sad and angry about the way the world was. The theme of Catcher in the Rye was that peoples actions toward one another affect people in many ways. Our society is so large that it is difficult to build strong interpersonal relationships. Holden wanted to be the catcher in the rye who helped other children from falling off a cliff and becoming what he considered to be phony.

I beleive that the book is trying to make a point of that adolescence is a difficult time because it is a search for who we are and the realities of the world.

Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfied: Saint, Snob, or Somewhere In-between? Although J.D. Salinger has only one novel to his credit, that novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is recognized as an exceptional literary work. The key to the success of The Catcher in the Rye is the main character, Holden Caulfield. There are many different critics that view Holden in many different ways. Some believe Holden to be a conceited snob, while others see Holden as a Christ-like figure. It is my opinion, however, that Holden is somewhere in the middle. Holden Caulfield is a character who has a definite code of honor that he attempts to live up to and expects to as abide by as well. Since the death of his brother Allie, Holden has experienced almost a complete sense of alienation from the world around him. This alienation is evident in every part of his life. Holden is unable to relate to anyone at the three prep schools he has attended. While standing on Thomsen Hill, Holden cannot help but feel isolated when he observes the football game, “you were supposed to commit suicide or something if Old Pencey didnt win” (Salinger 2). Not only does Holden feel isolated at the schools he has attended; he has this feeling when it comes to his family as well. Upon his return to New York City, Holden does not go home. Instead, he chooses to hide out from his family. According to Ernest Jones, “with his alienation go assorted hatreds of movies, of night clubs, of social and intellectual pretension, and so on. And physical disgust: pimples, sex, an old man picking his nose are all equal cause for nausea” (Jones 7). Holden feels Previts 2 as though all of these people have failed him in some way or that they are all “phonies” or “corny” in some way or another. It is Holdens perception of those around him as “phonies” and again according to Jones; “Holdens belief that he has a superior moral standard that few people, only his dead brother, his 10-year-old sister, and a fleeting friend Jane can live up to” that make him a snob (7). Presenting Holden as “snobbish” hardly does him justice. Critics such Frederick L. Gwynn, Joseph L. Blotner, and Frederic I. Carpenter view Holden as a character who is “Christ-like in his ambition to protect children before they enter the world of destruction and phoniness” (Carpenter 24). Holdens experiences throughout the course of his life have created a desire in him to preserve the innocence of those he considers to be innocent. He attempts to physically overpower Stradlater when he realizes that Stradlater may have “screwed around” with Jane Gallagher, whom Holden considers to be innocent simply because she “plays checkers with more regard for the symmetry of the pieces on the board than for the outcome of the game”(Gwynn 13). Along with Jane Gallagher, Holden wishes to protect his sister Phoebe, who is very much like Allie in that she has a mix of youthful innocence and generosity that overwhelms Holden. The best example of this generosity is when Holden is moved to tears because Phoebe gave him all of her Christmas money. Simple acts like this motivated Holden to want to be Christ-like. Holdens desire to be Christ-like is best evidenced in the following quotation: “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousand of little kids, and nobodys around- nobody big, I mean, except me. And Im standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff” Previts 3 Not only is Holden Christ-like in his desire to protect those who are “innocent” but he, like Jesus, truly “loves his neighbors, especially the poor in goods, appearance, and spirit” (Gwynn 14). Not only does Holden give ten dollars to the nuns in the station, but he is also depressed by their meagre breakfast and the fact that they will never be “going anywhere swanky for lunch” (Salinger 110). He also worries about the ducks freezing in Central Park, sympathizes with the ugly daughter of Penceys headmaster and even Sunny the prostitute (Carpenter 24). Perhaps the quality that is most Christ-like in Holden is his ability to “forgive like Jesus with his Judas, he Holden forgives Stradlater and the bellboy Maurice who have betrayed and beaten him” (Gwynn 14). Because of his compassion and ability to forgive others, Holden can also be viewed as a Christ-like figure. While there is evidence to support Holden as both a snob and a saint, I believe that Holden is a mix between the two. The Catcher in the Rye is the choice of nine of ten murders, whackos, serial killers and, oddly enough, disgruntled teenagers. John Lennon was killed to promote this book. In the movie Silence of the Lambs, the serial killer John Hinkley was also a big Catcher in the Rye fan as well. The level of general craziness surrounding the book is so bad the movie Conspiracy Theory made it a running joke, even tracking the protagonist portrayed by Mel Gibson by monitoring purchases of The Catcher in the Rye. The reason that this book has a universal appeal to such a variety of people lies in the main character, Holden Caulfield. He can be saintly or snooty, cynical or sincere. Holden is generous to charitable to nuns and protective or children, or be agitated at the “zit-encrusted” Ackely. Still yet, Holden is capable of being quite cynical, Previts 4 the best example of this is in the very opening of the book when Holden states, “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing youll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I dont feel like going into it, if you want to know that truth” (Salinger 1). Despite his ability to be pejorative, Holden can still be able to be quite sincere. This is evident in his dealings with Phoebe. When Phoebe begins to cry, Holden first “wanted her to cry until her eyes practically dropped out. He almost hated her” (Salinger 207). Yet, a few seconds later he wants to take Phoebe to the zoo and the park to assuage her pain. That is what I believe makes Holden Caulfied such a fascinating and widely admired character. One minute he can be bashing “phonies” then the next he will be acting “phoney” to a mother of a classmates as he was on the train to New York City. So, Holden is neither a saint nor a snob. He is a sarcastic yet sincere teenager who is pursuing Quixotistic ideals of moral order. Holden is caught between the anxiety of childhood and the maturity of the adult world. The appeal of J.D. Salingers novel The Catcher in the Rye is due in no small part to the main character and sole provider of information, the one and only Holden Caulfied. While some view Holden strictly as an elitist or as a Christ-like figure, I find Holden to a curious mix of the two. Holden is capable of displaying qualities associated with either at any moment throughout the novel. It is this mixture of qualities that makes Holden one of the most fascinating and popular characters in modern literature. Previts 5
Bibliography
Works Cited Carpenter, Frederic I. “The Adolescent in American Fiction” English Journal, 46, No.6 (September 1957): 315-6. Rpt. in Holden Caulfield ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1990. 24. Gwynn, Frederick L., Joseph L. Blotner. “The Catcher in the Rye” The Fiction of J.D. Salinger (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1958): 28-31. Rpt. in Holden Caulfield. ed. Harold Bloom New York: Chelsea House, 1990. 13-14 Jones, Ernest “Case History of all of Us.” Nation (September 1, 1951): p176. Rpt. in Holden Caulfield. ed. Harold Bloom New York: Chelsea House, 1990. 7 Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1951.