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The Psychological Message of J.D. Salinger?s The Catcher in the Rye
A novel, like a movie, is a form of entertainment; however, some novels do a great deal more than entertain. Some pack an emphatic psychological message. An illustration of such a publication is Mark Twain?s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In addition, Ken Kasey?s One Flew Over the Cookoo?s Nest is a narrative with a comparable central theme. J. D. Salinger?s The Catcher in the Rye is yet another instance of a story with an influential psychological message. In essence, it explains that the transition from childhood to adulthood can cause numerous frustrations toward one?s friends, friction between one?s family, and most significantly, internal clashes within ones self.
First, while growing older, countless people enjoy the numerous new relationships they acquire throughout their adult life; unfortunately, there are an exceptional few individuals that dread the notion of making affiliations with new folks and fear that previous friendships will be challenged during this changing point in one?s life. A very unaspiring character, Holden Caulfield scarcely attempts to maintain relationships with his fellow classmates, prior acquaintances, and with characters with whom he has had romantic encounters. During the story, Holden becomes aware of the fact that his insensitive and unkind remarks are causing him a lack of support from earlier companions. Near the termination of the novel, Holden remarks that, ?About all I know is
I sort of miss everybody I told about? (Salinger 214). Editor Leonard Unger interprets the previous comment to indicate that, ?This knowledge, though it is casually presented, in the closing lines of the book, is a difficult, profound, and mature knowledge that lies at the novel?s center of gravity? (Unger 555). Throughout the book, Holden consistently offends people due to his lack of social fluidity. In one case, Holden is on an afternoon excursion with a character named Sally Hayes. During the course of the afternoon, Holden and Sally become closer friends and seem to enjoy each other?s company. Unfortunately, Holden ruins any opportunity of friendship he may have had with her because during a moment of frustration, he states, ?You give me a royal pain in the ass, if you want to know the truth?(Salinger 133). Due to Holden?s moronic statements and pessimistic attitudes towards people, he begins to penetrate the adult world with more adversaries than allies.
Secondly, while most teenagers undergo occasional household disputes, a considerable amount of adolescents also understand that cooperating with family members is essential to make the transition into adulthood progress peacefully. While Holden conducts himself rashly and irresponsibly, his younger sister, Phoebe Caulfield, often assumes the role as the backbone of the Caulfield family. Holden conveys that after he went home that he felt, ?so damn happy, the way Phoebe just kept going around and around? (Salinger 164). Consequently, someone who honors and cherishes his or her family, will end up more mentally and emotionally secure.
Even though loved ones frequently make errors and may sporadically be hinderences, family members must overlook these minute imperfections. No other character ignores more flaws than Phoebe Caulfield. It appears that the more faults Phoebe overlooks, the more Holden takes her for granted. Yet despite the fact that Phoebe is regularly taken advantage of, her love for her brother is never once doubted. During the novel, when Holden is leaving, Phoebe articulates, ?Why can?t I go? Please Holden! I won?t do anything– I?ll just go with you, that?s all! I won?t even take my clothes with me if you don?t want me to…? (Salinger 206). Phoebe also informs Holden, ?…I?m not going back to school. You can do what you want to do but I?m not going back to school. So shut up. I?m going with you? (Salinger 208). When Phoebe reprimands her brother, her true colors finally begin to shine through her calm exterior while expressing her love for him. Author Warren French reflects that, ?…after Phoebe pleads to run away with him, he must forgo his own escape to do what he can for her? (Helterman 437). Therefore, by encouragement, determination and adoration, support from family members will assist in ones maturation.
Third, confidence in ones self and the ability to suppress negative conceptions will generate more internal evolution. Holden Caulfield struggles to unearth his true identity throughout the book. Editor Joyce Ross explains, ?Holden never makes it clear if he is mentally sick, physically ill or emotionally unwell. Yet readers of this story realize that he is more emotionally unstable than anything else? (Ross 77). Part of his emotional instability may come from the fact that his younger brother Allie died a few years before the story takes place. Holden and Allie were supposedly great friends and Holden?s emotions were drastically severed when Allie passed away. During the book, Holden frequently mentions Allie as if he were still alive. Holden?s denial is one of the more apparent indications that he is truly psychologically unbalanced.
Self-confidence is the main component in the mechanisms of maturing. Holden never obtains any self-assurance throughout the duration of the novel. Critic Martin Seymour-Smith expresses that, ?Holden is not convincing as an individual? (Seymour-Smith 325). Holden?s narrow-minded views about human existence are one result of his self-esteem deficiency. Another result are his inconsiderate statements about others. A person?s self-confidence will climb higher if the person goes into each day with an optimistic outlook about life.
In conclusion, the transition from childhood to adulthood can cause abundant conflicts toward one?s friends, family feuds, and most importantly, it can trigger one?s emotions to become significantly high or low. An individual must obey the Golden Rule and envision only affirmative thoughts towards others, if he or she would like for the conversion to adult life to be flourishing. J.D. Salinger portrays Holden Caulfield as a pathetic, inconsiderate young adult that strives to find himself and become a successful individual. Critic Bernard Dekle indicates that, ?Salinger is perhaps the greatest word weaver in American literary history? (Riley 300). Developing and thriving as a person are just two of the numerous privileges that a one gets to encounter on the path to a happy, successful adult life.
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