Catcher in the Rye: Analysis
The Catcher in the Rye Analysis J. D. Salinger presents an image of an atypical adolescent boy in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden is much more than a troubled teen who just going through “a phase.
” Holden is a very special boy with special needs. He doesn’t understand and doesn’t wish to understand the world around him. In fact most of the book details his guilty admissions of all the knowledge he knows but wishes he didn’t. The Catcher in the Rye has many themes, but they all focus on the message that growing up is a painful process that teens go through in search for their true identity.Throughout the novel, instead of developing a plot line, Salinger spends more time developing his main character, Holden. According to Reference Answers, “…most of the plot is mundane and uneventful; it only becomes interesting because Salinger makes the character of Holden and the perspective through which Holden narrates the story interesting”.
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It is this character development that allows teens to connect with Holden’s struggle to deal with the world around him. One issue he deals with as a 16 year old is his use of alienation as a form of self protection.Many teens go through this phase; but Holden does not realize that alienating himself is the real cause for his pain. He never addresses his own emotions directly, nor does he make the effort to search of the roots of his problems. For example, his loneliness plays a factor on his date with Sally Hayes in which he insults her and drives her away. He fears a closeness to other people and the only person who had may have been willing to feel close to, Jane Gallagher, he fears reaching out to her.
He uses his alienation as a crutch but it destroys him as opposed to helping him. Phoniness”, which is probably one of the most famous phrase from The Catcher in the Rye, is one of Holden’s favorite concepts. “The only people he trusts and respects are Allie, his deceased brother, and Phoebe, his younger sister. Everyone else is a phony of some sort. Holden uses the word “phony” to identify everything in the world which he rejects” (Bennett, Criticism).
The people in this world that seem more “phony” then anyone are adults. Holden explains throughout the novel that adults are inevitably phony, and, what’s worse, they can’t see their own phoniness.In his opinion, phoniness stands for everything that is wrong in the world around him and provides Holden with an excuse to withdrawal himself from that world. The only person he has left in the world who he really cares about is his younger sister, Phoebe. “Clearly, Holden’s pilgrimage to see his beloved younger sister, and her talents for advising, listening, and enlightening, provide him with the insights, awareness, and guidance he will rely on to begin to come to terms with his despair over the loss of his brother” (Svogun, The Explicator).
Unfortunately for Holden, the world is not as simple as he wishes is was and he cannot adhere to the same black-and –white standards he uses to judge other people. Lying and Deception are the most hurtful elements of this novel. Holden seems to reserve the most scorn for people who think they are something they are not, or those who refuse to acknowledge their own weakness. Lying to others is a form of phoniness that Holden feels is a type of deception that indicates insensitivity and cruelty.Obviously, Holden is guilty of both of these crimes which would make him phony himself, but he refuses to pay any notice to his own shortcomings and he is unwilling to consider how greatly his behavior affects the people around him. The end of the book demonstrates significant growth on the part of Holden.
Although at first Holden is quick to condemn those around him as phony, his more recent encounters with others prove that he is becoming more tolerant and less judgmental. This is evidenced after the ordeal with Mr.Antolini, where Holden is determined not to make any conclusions about his teacher. This growth contributes to Holden’s fantasy of being a catcher in the rye. Despite his inability and fear of becoming an adult, he has found his role in keeping the innocence of other children protected. “Holden simply absorbs all experiences, good and bad, adding them to his own knowledge base.
Really the poor teenager is so confused about what he should do; he simply regresses socially, hoping to escape the tough choices of adulthood by keeping others from them” (Novel Guide).The Catcher in the Rye has many themes, but they all central around the message that growing up is a painful process that teens go through in search for their true identity. The struggle of growing up affects every teen, such as Holden. He deals with the pains of growing up, what he considers phoniness and lying and deception. Although he is guilty of some of these crimes, so is every teenager.
This novel demonstrates how difficult the search for one’s self is no matter what the hurdles are to get there.