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The Catcher In The Rye

In chapter two, Holden reveals some of his most important traits through his interaction with Mr. Spencer. In this scene, it is the first time you see Holden communicating with someone, but even in the beginning, he is apathetic the lesson Mr. Spencer is trying to teach him. However, although he looks at someone like Mr. Spencer negatively, he justifies his or her imperfections and keeps from disliking someone too strongly. Unfortunately, Holden does the same to himself as he does to others. He cannot decide who he is and it reveals itself when he cannot relate others. Communicating is Holden?s major flaw and Mr. Spencer points it out.

In the scene with Mr. Spencer Holden said that he thinks about old Spencer a lot. Holden looks down on old Spencer because he views Spencer as living a sorry existence. He mentions that Spencer spends most of his time sick in bed and is so useless that he needs someone to pick up his chalk when he drops it. He explains that he does not know why old Spencer is even living. Holden says, ?I just mean that I used to think about old Spencer a lot, and if you thought about him too much, you wondered what the heck he was still living for.? Holden looked negatively upon Spencer, but as Holden does frequently later in the book, Holden justifies old Spencer?s life. ?That?s awful in my opinion. But if you thought about him just enough and not too much, you could figure out that he wasn?t too bad for himself.? Holden therefore looks at both the negative and positive sides of a person. He does the same to sally. He repeats that ?she?s phony as hell? and gives him a ?pain in the ass? but he tells her that she is the only reason he stays in New York. He wanted her to run off to the forest with him. Holden also dislikes the way that Luce is such a big hot shot, but he never hates him because Holden thinks he is one of the few people with whom he can speak intellectually. As soon as Holden becomes angry with someone, he looks at his or her human side and tempers his opinion about them.

Regrettably, Holden does the same to himself. It keeps him from deciding many things about him. Consequently, Holden feels that cannot relate with anyone, which breaks the basic structure of communication. He tries to communicate. He invites Sunny up to his room mostly because he was lonely and longs to talk. Frequently, Holden fails when he makes the effort to connect. Instead, he tells Sunny that he just had an operation. He makes up lies. He lies to almost every one on his journey. Including Mrs. Morrow, Sunny, and Sally. He never even gets in touch with Jane. Holden lies to old Spencer and tells him that he is going to change, which at that point was a lie. This aspect of himself further alienates him from society.

Holden?s problem with communication is additionally addressed when Mr. Spencer asks Holden if he had communicated with his parents. Holden never gets in touch with his parent throughout the whole story. Not even to his mother whom he respects.

This scene is a mark importance because it is the first time you see Holden interacting with someone. In it, Salinger introduces Holden?s character, and includes main themes like Holden?s battle with phonies. He does not connect with Spencer because he says he is a pathetic phony. Subconsciously, Holden cannot relate to anyone although he may not realize it. He lies to almost everyone he meets and it has devastating effects. He feels isolated. He feels alone in the world with no one he can talk to. He withdraws himself from society. Holden needs to belong, because to belong is one of man?s most satisfying feelings and without it, any person will feel lost.


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