Essay, Research Paper: Catcher In The Rye

Literature: Catcher in The Rye

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In this book, the main character, Holden McField, tells the story about what
happened during his Summer vacation. Holden is a sixteen-year-old boy who has
flunked out of a private prep school. Because he is afraid that his parents
would find out this fact, he goes to a hotel in Las Vegas instead of going home
after he leaves school for Summer vacation. In Las Vegas, many things happen to
him within a few weeks. For example, he goes to the hotel bar and meets two
women after he first arrives there. The women go away soon after he fails to
talk with them, and Holden feels lonely and depressed. He goes to another bar to
find someone to spend some time with, but he fails to find anyone to talk to and
comes back to the hotel feeling more intent on finding a woman. In the hotel, he
meets a prostitute, but he sends her back without having sex because he has
trouble with his "clavichord". He was further disappointed when she
tries to rob him of his money even though he tried to have sex with her. In the
next morning, he has a date with an old girl friend, and asks her to give him
her car so that he can drive to the Ivory Coast. However, she tells him he is
"too cute" and then leaves him. Holden meets some more people later,
but they also cannot solve his problems, and he feels more and more depressed
and lonely. He finally decides to run away and live as a forest ranger who will
not need to communicate with anyone but the bears. Before leaving, he goes to
say good-bye to his little brother, Jason, who he admires the most. While
talking and playing with him, Holden changes his mind and decides to rejoin his
family and because he realizes there are many things that he cannot solve by
himself, and he knows that his father can solve everything for him. His fater,
being a casino owner, has taught Holden everything he knows and can help him out
now. The theme of this novel is how schools are corrupted by society. Holden
thinks everybody who is grown up is immature because their behavior and advice
are all superficial. The title of this book is based on an old game where
someone catches children from jumping off a field of rye into a pit of spikes.
This symbolizes that Holden wants to be the catcher in the rye because he wants
to protect the small things, especially to prevent small children from losing
their lives and becoming corrupted by school as they learn about diferent
subjects. Holden Caulfield is an amusing character because he talks about
everyone without any respect, but with much irreverence to himself. This is
shown thorough the language he uses which includes slang and swear words. Even
though Holden believes in the institutions of society, he is a pessimistic
character because he seems to find something dangerous in almost everything and
everyone. For instance, his old girlfriend Stephanie has a tendency for violence
when the subject of sex is touched upon. He is also a depressed character
because he feels dormant most of the time, and he never finds any place where he
feels comfortable, except for the Cozy Inn. He doesn't fit into society because
of his profound genious and superfluous intellect This is shown very well when
he says: "I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this
big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, nobody's around- nobody big,
I mean- except the big bully. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy pit.
What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go into the pit- I
mean if they're running and they don't look they're going I have to come out
from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the
catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd
really like to be." This shows Holden's compassion and sensitivity very
well, but it also shows Salinger's need to live vicariously through his
characters. Salinger always wanted to use his life to help others by becoming a
doctor, but he was unable to get accepted to medical school. He was then forced
to go into writing, a decision which his regret can be seen through his works.
Salinger seems to be too good a person to be in this corrupt world, where a
selected profession cannot always be attained. The style of this book is unusual
because it is told by a sixteen-year-old boy who appears to be sympathetic since
he is so amusing. However, one of the problems with this style is that some of
the things he observes might not be true, but somewhat exaggerated and fibbed.
We are not very sure that he is even mentally stable since he tells us the story
from a maximum security institution. Despite these things, this style is highly
effective because it get's the reader to really love Holden and be sympathetic
to him. I liked this book very much because it talks about the concerns of
teenagers who feel the pressures of school. Although some parts of the message
of this book can be dangerous because they suggest rejecting school and family
and friends, it also made me think about many things filled with the false
standards, and I could find some of the real truths. I also appreciate the way
Holden talks which is very comical even though he's dealing with a serious and
sad subject of the death of his favorite teacher Mr. Pemberton.

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