Essay, Research Paper: Catcher In The Rye

Literature: Catcher in The Rye

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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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