Holden Caulfield – The Catcher In The Rye Essay Sample
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Holden Caulfield – The Catcher In The Rye Essay Sample
J.D. Salinger gives Holden a realistic voice and perspective that the reader can identify with. We are able to understand how Holden has come to view this world of his through his past experiences and reactions to life’s situations. He is a very unique character that doesn’t exactly fit into a common stereo type. Although he is similar to some boys his age, Holden’s beliefs and values often contrast with those of his peers. Holden finds it difficult to relate to his schoolmates and he isolates himself from the entire environment. He separates the world he knows into two different groups of people. The group he is in consists of people like his siblings Allie and Phoebe. Most other people are just lumped into another group he refers to as phonies. Holden appreciates the memories he shared with Allie and Phoebe’s opinion and views on life. When Phoebe says “You don’t like anything that’s happening” (pg69) Holden becomes extremely defensive and tries to persuade Phoebe out of believing that. He doesn’t want to disappoint her because she is such an important person to him in his life. Because Holden doesn’t need his parent’s or any of his peers’ approval, the few people that he does value in his life mean everything to him.
Holden’s parents did not demonstrate much affection towards him during the novel because they were always sending him away to boarding school after boarding school. Because Holden is unable to find many positive things in his life this taints his view of the world and we see that very little can bring him joy. Allie, his favorite brother died of leukemia a few years back and he is still very upset about that and finds it hard to let go. Holden often dwells on his bad experiences in life and cannot move on from them and learn from it.
One reason why Holden may believe that practically everyone around him is a phony is because he cannot come to the realization that a person can be genuinely happy in life and engage in tedious activities and still find joy in that. He sometimes confuses what he believes to be fake with simple happiness. Holden hates many things that he doesn’t understand so he separates himself from everyone else because he believes he is different. He doesn’t know why people sometimes pretend to be someone they’re not, but in truth Holden is just like them as he also pretends to be someone that he is not. When he makes up stories and gives fake names to people he wants to escape his depression and be whatever he wants to be. He’s not comfortable enough with himself to let many other people know the real him, so he hides his true self under his lies. There are a lot of things Holden doesn’t even know about himself.
He thinks about sex and women a great deal, but given the chance he cannot go through with his plan. Something makes him stop and realize he wants something more and he cannot be just like other guys and only be in it to use the girl. This shows that Holden has somewhat of a conscience and morals, but his other beliefs are still twisted and far from making much sense. He is mostly caught up in his depression and unable to escape it and find out what truly makes him happy in life and what he wants in the future. He gets caught up in the past and becomes sidetracked from what he really should be thinking about.
The world Holden wants to be in is free of phonies and people are real, honest and have a childlike innocence. He describes his dream job as being a catcher in the rye, where young children are running around in a field of rye and if they get too close to the edge he will catch them and protect him. This shows us that Holden dreams of living in a place where he is the oldest and the protector of all the innocent children around.
Holden cannot adapt to change very well and he rejects it whenever he comes across it. His favorite part about visiting the museum is the fact that it never changes and no matter how old he is when he goes there he’ll always feel the same. He also keeps putting off calling Jane because he doesn’t want to know if she’s different. The way he remembers her is timeless and he will keep that innocent image of her forever as long as he doesn’t know any different. Even though he wants to talk to her and know how she’s doing, he’d rather never speak to her again than know that the world has changed her and she had become corrupted by society. Since Holden attended so many different schools throughout his life he was always encountering change, from the place he slept to the teachers her had. Holden did not adapt very well to these circumstances so he rejected the system and everyone in it because it was easier for him than dealing with it. Because of this he fails almost all of his courses and his teachers believe he is not very intelligent and that he never tries. It is easier to disregard something than to think about it and work through the problems. Because he isolates himself from everything else he believes the world is rejecting him and that he is the only one different and no one else is able to understand.
Throughout his experiences in New York before Holden returns home he gains a slightly new outlook on life. His sister Phoebe helps him to realize that he needs to look into his future and not keep running away from his problems. He begins to let his depression subside as he watches his sister go around on the carousel. Somehow watching someone he loves experience joy brings a new happiness into his life.