Sunday, October 9, 2011

“Catcher In The Rye”

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J.D. Salinger’s 'The Catcher In The Rye' depicts a struggling 16 year old Holden Caufield desperately searching for somebody to love him, but cannot find what he seeks because he drives people away due to his own fear that he or others have or may lose their innocence, change or bring about conflict. Because of these things Holden is unable to love. This is what 'The Catcher in the Rye' focuses on, Holden’s everlasting search for companionship as he thwarts all his attempts to find this. Even Holden’s “Catcher in the Rye” fantasy itself is something that stands in his way, this idea demonstrating that a fall from childhood and all things pure is, in his eyes equivalent to death.

As a younger boy Holden became friends with a girl named Jane Gallagher, introduced in chapter four, the first time we hear of her is when Stradlater(Holden’s roommate) mentions that he is going on a date with her. Holden is extremely surprised and begins to gush about all the fun they had when they were younger. Holden says that he should go and say hello to her but claims that he’s “...not in the mood right now.”(pg 8) Towards the end of the chapter you can feel the tension between Holden and Stradlater becomes higher after Stradlater complains that she “only signed out until nine thirty.” It becomes clear that Holden’s fears that Stradlater will try to seduce Jane into having sex with him. This is possibly one of the reasons that Holden avoids going out to see her, fearing that she has changed. Throughout the rest of the novel Holden makes random attempts to contact Jane, but always stops short, either hanging up the phone or talking himself out of it. This example demonstrates Holden’s fear that Jane has changed and is no longer pure, forcing him to protect himself from her.

As Holden rambles through the book you cannot help but realize how often he discusses another girl, Sally Hayes, many times he thinks about calling her, and when he eventually does, he organizes a date with her, even though he practically hates her, calling her a “phony.” Holden continues, saying that he hates her friends, the things she likes and even claims that her mother hates him, but for some reason he still peruses her. Claiming that he loves her, he even asks her to run away with him. His feelings are irrational and display his desperation to find love, even if he doesn’t like her. When Sally tries to bring Holden to his senses he pushes her away, not dealing well with the rejection, saying that she gives him a “…royal pain in the ass…” (pg 10) This is a perfect demonstration of why Holden pushes people away before they get too close, the only reason he went so far was because he was slightly drunk.

Holden wants to love and be loved, but finds that when he gets close it will be spoiled by a loss of innocence. What he seeks is a more parent to child relationship. Holden describes that although his parents were financially well off, they never looked after him emotionally. “If you really want to hear about…what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all.” (pg 1) This is most likely the reason that he sees childhood and innocence as such an important thing, because he never had one.

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The neglect Holden felt as a child produced his catcher in the rye fantasy, where he wants to protect the foundation of childhood and innocence that he never had. This fantasy is the reason that Holden stops himself from becoming involved with people and why he is unable to love. So as you can see Holden’s inability to love is not the key to catcher in the rye, but merely a symptom of it.

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