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Catcher Essay, Research Paper

J.D. Salinger s book The Catcher In The Rye is a very controversial book in the academic and societal community because of many things. Holden Caulfield, the books central character has many problems. Holden is entering the phase where he is moving from childhood to adolescence. Holden Caufield is a hostile, negatively charged character that suffers from depression which stems from a desire not to grow up and a lack of closure in his brothers death. Holden s use of language and his explicit behaviour are quite common throughout the book and are not viewed as acceptable for young people to read. This book deals with such topics as sex, death, and growing up. These three dominant factors are what has led to the controversy over the book.

Holden Caufield, in his narration, relates a flashback of a significant period of his life, three days and nights on his own in New York City. Through his narration, Holden discloses his innermost thoughts and feelings. He provides the reader not only with information of what occurred, but also how he felt about what happened. Holden\’s thoughts and ideas reveal many of his character traits. One late Saturday night, four days before the beginning of school vacation, Holden is alone, bored and restless, wondering what to do. He decides to leave Pencey, his school, at once and travels to New York by train. He decides that, once in New York, he will stay in a cheap motel until Wednesday, when he is to return home. His plan shows the reader how very impetuous he is and how he acts on a whim. He is unrealistic, thinking that he has a foolproof plan, even though the extent of his plans are to \”take a room in a hotel.., and just take it easy till Wednesday.\” Holden\’s excessive thoughts on death are not typical of most adolescents. His near obsession with death might come from having experienced two deaths in his early life. He constantly dwells on Allie, his brother\’s, death. From Holden\’s thoughts, it is obvious that he loves and misses Allie. In order to hold on to his brother and to minimize the pain of his loss, Holden brings Allie\’s baseball mitt along with him where ever he goes. The mitt has additional meaning and significance for Holden because Allie had written poetry, which Holden reads, on the baseball mitt. Holden\’s preoccupation with death can be seen in his contemplation of a dead classmate, James Castle. It tells the reader something about Holden that he lends his turtleneck sweater to this classmate, with whom he is not at all close. Holden\’s feelings about people reveal more of his positive traits. He constantly calls people phonies, even his brother, D.B., who \” has sold out to Hollywood.\” Although insulting, his seemingly negative feelings show that Holden is a thinking and analysing, outspoken individual who values honesty and sincerity. He is unimpressed with people who try to look good in other\’s eyes. Therefore, since it is obvious that Holden is bright, the reason for his flunking out of school would seem to be from a lack of interest.

Another necessary idea that is present in the novel is the theme of acceptance. Holden frequently examines his role in society, finding that he is often isolated from adolescents his own age and even, at times, made to feel inadequate. Holden distances himself from his friends and family because of such feelings. In the end, Holden realizes that he does need people to whom he can relate. At the close of the novel, Holden says, \”About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It\’s funny. Don\’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everything\” pg. 217, letting his emotions of inadequacy and need for acceptance escape. Many teenagers can identify with Holden\’s feelings, and it is these very sentiments that may lead some teens to a life of solitude and agonizing unhappiness. On the other hand, many young adults fear isolation and loneliness so much that it forces them to conform to society\’s ideas and perceptions. It is in this way that Holden becomes the reader\’s hero.


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