‘Holden’s hatred of everything is shallow and suggests his own unrealistic and confused attitude.’ Discuss. J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye depicts a teenager coping an identity crisis throughout the 1950’s. Salinger promotes the themes of growing up and teenage years through the lead character, Holden Caulfield. Holden’s attitude towards life is bitter and contemptuous which prevents him from successfully connecting with other people. His shift from youth to the adult years is blurry and uncertain as he does not have the skills required to move from one to the other.
Moreover, he is unable to overcome the obstacle, as he sees it, of growing up as he is discovering it tough to accept the duty that comes with it.
Holden exposes his idea of the shallowness and hypocrisy worldwide by describing them as ‘phony’. Holden recognizes that phoniness is all throughout society. Whether it be in reference to his old school principal at Elkton Hills just conversing with the upper class families, or to his hatred of movies as it includes stars pretending to be something they’re not. Although Holden holds this cynical mindset, it seems to be obvious that this outlook appears only to be evoked by sympathy, either for the households that towered above at Elkton Hills or for his own dysfunctional household. Holden also sees the insincerity in the publication of Stradlater, his roomie who is able to hide his ‘secret [slobbery] behind his ‘attractive’ appearance and phony charm.
In this sense, Holden may also be jealous of how easily Stradlater can protect his insecurities as he has a strong sense of self-imposed ego. Holden describes his older brother D.B. as a phony since Holden views him as a ‘sellout’ for being a ‘woman of the street in Hollywood’. Though Holden used to admire his older brother, his now thinks D.B. is compromising his talents for an audience. Likewise, with Ernie who plays piano at the nightclub, Holden is frustrated when the audience claps for him, declaring that ‘individuals always clap for the incorrect things’. Holden is typically found disapproving of specific components in society, however has the ability to justify to himself the factors of his actions based upon his own experiences and perceptions, which may encounter the expectations of society and it is this that puzzles Holden.
Holden’s concept of reality is discovered to be altered due to upsetting experiences and for that reason he has difficulty with interactions, forming connections and approval of society. At the beginning of the text, the reader is informed that Holden is narrating from a mental organization, which enables the reader to conclude that Holden’s views of truth are somewhat unstable. Moreover, Holden is unable to let go of the past, as he thinks youth is the only location he will discover joy. Holden’s understanding of youth includes unconditional love, simplicity and security from the corruption of the outer world.
To Holden, this reliability existed only when Allie lived. It is here that the reader is led to think that the reasons behind Holden’s inability to handle intricacy and intimacy stem from the death of Allie which he has actually failed to correctly grieve for, leading to confusion and absence of the closure he requires to progress. In regards to his sexuality and absence of understanding or experience in the matter, Holden keeps in mind that it does not really use as ‘in [his] mind, [he’s] probably the greatest sex maniac you ever saw’ which suggests that Holden has actually currently produced his own world in which he has actually isolated himself to. Holden’s dream is to be the ‘catcher in the rye,’ ‘catching’ kids from falling off a cliff into the pompous world of their adult years.
This metaphor suggests that Holden wishes to be the individual to conserve the children before they fall out of their innocent knowledge into the repulsive world of adults. His desire to remain in of childhood is implied when he describes that the ‘best aspects of the museum is whatever stayed where it was’ which reveals that he longs for a world that remains frozen and unchanged, as he fears the unidentified. Also, when watching Phoebe on the carousel, Holden mentions that ‘the nice things about carousels were that they always played the exact same tunes.’ The truth of the world can not be accepted if the significance is unknown, and this uses to Holden as his lack of knowledge to explore this unidentified prevents his from being the man he truly wishes to be.
Moreover, Holden discovers problem in accepting the concerns and responsibilities that are required in the adult world. His childishness and immaturity, whether intentional or not, is evident when Holden ‘left all the foils and devices and stuff on the goddam train’ and instead of accepting that he slipped up, he blames it on that he ‘needed to keep getting up to look at this map so’ [they ‘d] know where to get off’.
Holden’s duty as a teen was to finish school with excellent grades however not able to do that, he moves to different schools repeatedly, only to stop working once again. Holden’s inability to accept duty might likewise be due to a worry of success. Holden’s childishness is also seen throughout the novel when Holden refuses to go home and face his moms and dads about ‘failing out of Pencey Prep’ in fear of the criticism and repercussions that will result. Holden dislikes obligation, as he believes that with it comes expectations, and if he doesn’t live up to those expectations, then the genuine love he received through youth will diminish.
‘Catcher in the Rye’ explores the tension and confusion in between Holden’s goal to observe and isolate with his requirement to speak and link. Holden shows qualities of a secluded mindset and is victim of his own isolation, which in turn prevents him from complying with society’s expectations. Through Holden, the contrast between childhood and their adult years and the procedure of transitioning from one to another are analyzed closely. As the unique progresses, the reader has the ability to understand what occasions Holden has actually experienced that have actually caused his unrealistic and baffled mindset about fearing modification, feeling bitter adulthood and growing up.