I.1. Tittle : The Catcher in the Rye
I.2. Author : Jerome David Salinger
I.3. Year : 1850
I.4. Published : 1851
I.5. Summary :
Holden Caulfield, the seventeen-year-old narrator and protagonist of the novel, addresses the reader directly from a mental hospital or sanitarium in southern California. He wants to tell us about events that took place over a two-day period the previous December. Typically, he first digresses to mention his older brother, D.B., who was once a "terrific" short-story writer but now has sold out and writes scripts in nearby Hollywood. The body of the novel follows. It is a frame story, or long flashback, constructed through Holden's memory.
Holden begins at Pencey Prep, an exclusive private school in Pennsylvania, on the Saturday afternoon of the traditional football game with school rival, Saxon Hall. Holden misses the game. Manager of the fencing team, he managed to lose the team's equipment on the subway that morning, resulting in the cancellation of a match in New York. He is on his way to the home of his history teacher, Mr. Spencer, to say good-bye. Holden has been expelled and is not to return after Christmas break, which begins Wednesday.
Spencer is a well-meaning but long-winded old man, and Holden gladly escapes to the quiet of an almost deserted dorm. Wearing his new red hunting cap, he begins to read. His reverie is temporary. First, a dorm neighbor named Ackley disturbs him. Later, Holden argues with his roommate, Stradlater, who fails to appreciate a theme that Holden has written for him about Holden's deceased brother Allie's baseball glove. A womanizer, Stradlater has just returned from a date with Holden's old friend Jane Gallagher. The two roommates fight, Stradlater winning easily. Holden has had enough of Pencey Prep and catches a train to New York City where he plans to stay in a hotel until Wednesday, when his parents expect him to return home for Christmas vacation.
En route to New York, Holden meets the mother of a Pencey classmate and severely distorts the truth by telling her what a popular boy her "rat" son is. Holden's Manhattan hotel room faces windows of another wing of the hotel, and he observes assorted behavior by "perverts." Holden struggles with his own sexuality. He meets three women in their thirties, tourists from Seattle, in the hotel lounge and enjoys dancing with one but ends up with only the check. Following a disappointing visit to Ernie's Nightclub in Greenwich Village, Holden agrees to have a prostitute, Sunny, visit his room. Holden has second thoughts, makes up an excuse, and pays the girl to leave. To his surprise, Maurice, her pimp, soon returns with her and beats up Holden for more money. He has lost two fights in one night. It is near dawn Sunday morning.
After a short sleep, Holden telephones Sally Hayes, a familiar date, and agrees to meet her that afternoon to go to a play. Meanwhile, Holden leaves the hotel, checks his luggage at Grand Central Station, and has a late breakfast. He meets two nuns, one an English teacher, with whom he discusses Romeo and Juliet. Holden looks for a special record for his 10-year-old sister, Phoebe, called "Little Shirley Beans." He spots a small boy singing "If a body catch a body coming through the rye," which somehow makes Holden feel less depressed.
Sally is snobbish and "phony," but the two watch a play featuring married Broadway stars Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Sally and Holden skate at Radio City but fight when Holden tries to discuss things that really matter to him and suddenly suggests that they run off together. Holden leaves, sees the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall, endures a movie, and gets very drunk. Throughout the novel, Holden has been worried about the ducks in the lagoon at Central Park. He tries to find them but only manages to break Phoebe's recording in the process. Exhausted physically and mentally, he heads home to see his sister.
Holden and Phoebe are close friends as well as siblings. He tells her that the one thing he'd like to be is "the catcher in the rye." He would stand near the edge of a cliff, by a field of rye, and catch any of the playing children who, in their abandon, come close to falling off. When his parents return from a late night out, Holden, undetected, leaves the apartment and visits the home of Mr. Antolini, a favorite teacher, where he hopes to stay a few days. Startled, Holden awakes in the predawn hours to find Antolini patting Holden's head. He quickly leaves.
Monday morning, Holden arranges to meet Phoebe for lunch. He plans to say good-bye and head west where he hopes to live as a deaf-mute. She insists on leaving with him, and he finally agrees to stay. Holden's story ends with Phoebe riding a carrousel in the rain as Holden watches.
In the final chapter, Holden is at the sanitarium in California. He doesn't want to tell us any more. In fact, the whole story has only made him miss people, even the jerks.
II. Analysis of Fiction
An Analysis Character of Holden Caulfield in “The Catcher in the Rye”
Thesis statement: Holden Caulfield is in many ways a typical teenager of the complicated and paradoxical youth. He has a naïve and kind heart with a great ideal, and he is willing to pursue the wonderful life. He only wants to be a catcher in the rye to be the guardian of innocence and the protector of innocents. I demonstrate his honesty, generosity, and kind from the descriptions and the incidents in some chapters.
II. The personality of Holden Caulfield Brief introduction to the prospectus of The Catcher in the Rye
A. Holden’s honesty and sincerity
1. His thoughts on Selma Thurmer
2. His deeds to others
3. His deeds comparing with that of the adult
B. Holden’s generosity
1. Contribution of his time to accompany others
2. His tendency to try to find some good in most people
3. His donation to the nuns
C. Holden’s kindness
1. Consideration for others
2. His unwillingness to make life difficult for people
3. His desire to protect the children
Analysis on Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye
This paper analyses the personality of the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who is a controversial character. In this paper, the author mainly figures out the positive character of Holden Caulfield. Then the author analyses the personality of Holden Caulfield from three aspects: (1) Holden Caulfield himself is a sincere person, and he tends to espouse is authenticity, disgusting falsehood. (2) Holden Caulfield can not help being generous. (3) Holden Caulfield is a very kind boy. Key Words: honesty, sincerity, generosity, kindness
His creator is not without his legend either. Jersome David Salinger, man of mystery and conscientious alien from all things connected with the society that his youthful hero laments over, has progressively withdrawn from the company of all but a select few of his fellow human beings, and upon these he appears
to have imposed a vow of silence. The facts of his earlier years, consequently, heavily outweigh the information we have later.
to have imposed a vow of silence. The facts of his earlier years, consequently, heavily outweigh the information we have later.
He was born in 1919 to a well-to-do merchant family in New York City. The only other child in his family, a sister, was eight years older than he. His father was a prosperous meat importer who tried unsuccessfully to groom his son for the trade. An average student with an average I.Q., Salinger attended both public and private schools in Manhattan. Finally he was sent off to a military academy in Pennsylvania—perhaps a partial model for Holden Caulfield’s Pencey Prep—where he receive his only diploma. Aside from the typical extra-curricular activities, at school and at a Maine summer camp, such as acting, fencing, writing for the yearbook and the like, he was remembered for no dramatic escapades of the kind that characterize Holden Caulfield, and left no record of unusual accomplishment.
After putting in his time in the military academy he spent less than a month trying out college at New York University and completed his academic career taking a short-story course at Columbia University. This course, given by the editor of Story magazine, resulted in the publication of his first short story in the same magazine in 1940.
Drafted in 1942, Salinger spent the next four years in the Army. Apparently the young Salinger never stopped writing, since he is described by himself and others as writing in hotel rooms during weekend passes, in tents by flashflight, and even, if we can accept the more amazing aspects of the legend, in the foxholes. Certainly, if he was not writing all the time, he was alert to the artistic possibilities of his experiences, for many of them turn up in one form or other in his later stories. Biographical information becomes less available at this point, being based more on hearsay and conjecture and less on the small body of fact that Salinger has been willing to provide.
What is so important about the facts of Salinger’s life? Certainly his work stands or falls on its own merits. But the mystery surrounding his life is elaborated because he is at once the most artistically established young American writer and the one about whom the public knows least. Unlike Hemingway, whom Salinger met during his military sojourn—Hemingway thought he had a “helluva” talent—Salinger does not have an affinity for dramatic experiences. He is not an activist living openly in the public eye; he is a practitioner of the cult of secrecy.
However, some of the details about his life often have a fictional counterpart in his works.For example, both Salinger and his creation, Holden, attended prep schools and were members of the fencing team (although Holden is merely the team’s manager). During the prep-school career of both Salinger and Holden Caulfield, a suicide and a nervous breakdown of a fellow student occurred. Thus the students’ biographical examination is not without relevance, for it illuminates some of the techniques by which Salinger’s experience are transformed into works of art.
J.D. Salinger has some other famous works. Following ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ publishing in 1951, ‘Nine Story’ was published in 1953, and ‘Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour, an Introduction’ was published in 1963. All subsequent works listed after ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ are short stories, most of them published prior to collective issuance. The reason I choose to analyze ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is that this book is J.D. Salinger’s first and the most successful works. In the late 40’s and the early 51’s, while the pieces from ‘Nine Stories’ were being published separately, Salinger was undoubtedly trying to work into a novel his earlier stories about Holden Caulfield. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ became upon publication in 1951 an almost immediate success. As a midsummer Book-of-Month Club selection, for example, it certainly exposed Salinger to a larger audience than he had hitherto enjoyed. If, indeed, “enjoy” is the proper word, since the degree of popularity was enough to disturb Salinger, who directed that his picture be removed from the third and subsequent issues of the book. He remarked later to a friend that “I feel tremendously relieved that the season for success for ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is nearly over. I enjoyed a small part of it, but most of it I found hectic and professionally and personally demoralizing.” Reviews of the novel were mixed, from out-and-out approval to questions about Salinger’s attitudes, the colloquial style, the focus on an adolescent boy, and of course, the issue that has since attracted attention, whether the book was fit for young readers. Thus, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, especially since issuance as a paperback in 1953, has been, curiously, both stipulated for and banned from high school and college reading lists.
The theme of The Catcher in the Rye, in its broadest sense, would be the difficulty of growing up, the lonely and arduous voyage from innocence to experience. Perhaps because the American nation and traditions are so young, many prominent American novelists have used the theme of a young person’s initiation to experience. The rebellion against genteel language and the subjective, individualistic way of telling the story also are very American. Although Holden’s sensitivity and intelligence are heightened for the purpose of dramatizing his character, he shares, to a considerable extent, the problem of all American youth. Holden’s main problems are honesty and egotism. Holden can not really accept the death of his brother Allie. He idealizes Allie to the point where it interferes with his ability to make new friendship. He desires to be honest, which demands facing the problems of life, but he wants to protect all other children from having face them. His sincerity leads him to lie, which beclouds his honesty, and forces him to wonder about his ability to be honest. This general pattern, i.e., a self-conscious examination of himself, leads him to doubt all his motivations, as when he dismisses the notion of being a lawyer. Holden feels that self-gratifying motives cannot be separated from any good intention. Holden, preoccupied with self, has a confused vision of the real objects in life. One of the evidences of Holden’s growth is stated in the last chapter when Holden finally learns how to miss people.
When studying a piece of literature, it is meaningful to note the historical background of the piece and the time at which it was written. America became very rich after the War II. After the War II, the standard of living and consumption were both developed, so the number of middle class was increased fiercely. At the same time, the spirit of most of the people was more and more vacuous and necessitous. In the early 1950s, the government of America pursued Reds with holding back communism. Internationally, the cold war was being more and more serious. Interiorly, everyone was involved in the horrific atmosphere by the nuclear war and progressive people suppressed. Some people enjoyed the luxurious life, having a muddleheaded life; while others were eager to resist the vulgar and deceptive world, but they were lack of long-range ideal, so they could not find out a correct way. Some youth resisted the reality by negative way such as drinking, freak-out and cohabitation. As a result, some historians of the time regards the young Americans as the beat Generation in America.
Although Ever since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has served as a firestorm for controversy and debate. Some critics scolded the novel as being too pessimistic or obscene, too harsh for the society of the 1950's. Others, however, nominated Salinger himself as the top-flight "catcher in the rye" for that period in American history . They argued that Salinger's concerns represented an entire generation of American youth, frustrated by the phoniness of the world, just like Holden was. In the end, The Catcher in the Rye is accepted by the world. It devotes much to American literature and means much to both adolescence and adulthood in that time.
The personality of Holden Caulfield
The prospectus of The Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield is a student at Pencey Prep School, being born in a middle-class family. Having been expelled for failing four out of his five classes, Holden goes to see Mr. Spencer, his History teacher, before he leaves Pencey. Holden returns to his dormitory where he finds Stradlater prepares for a date with Jane Gallagher, a friend of Holden from several summers before. When Stradlater returns, Holden asks about his date with Jane, and when Stradlater indicates that he might have had *** with her, Holden becomes enraged and tries to punch Stradlater, who quickly overpowers him and knocks him out. Soon after, Holden decides to leave Pencey that night and not to wait until Wednesday. He leaves Pencey to return to New York City, where he will stay in a hotel before actually going home. On the train to New York City, Holden sits next to the mother of a Pencey student, Ernest Morrow. Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow about how popular and well-respected her son is at Pencey, while he is actually loathed by the other boys. When Holden reaches New York, he finally decides to stay at the Edmond Hotel. Holden experienced two nights and one day’s vagrant life.
Thinking that he may die soon, Holden returns home to see Phoebe, attempting to avoid his parents. He awakens her, when he complains about the phoniness of Pencey, Phoebe asks him if he actually likes anything. He tells Phoebe that he would like to be "a catcher in the rye," and he imagines himself standing at the edge of a cliff as children play around him. He would catch them before they ran too close to the cliff. When his parents come home, Holden sneaks out to stay with Mr. Antolini, his former English teacher at Elkton Hills. Holden falls asleep on the couch, and when he awakens he finds Mr. Antolini with his hand on Holden's head. Holden immediately interprets this as a homosexual advance, and decides to leave. Holden spends the night at Grand Central Station, deciding to go to the West. At last, he comes to home.
In essence, Holden Caulfield is a good guy stuck in a bad world. He is trying to make the best of his life, though ultimately losing that battle. Whereas he aims at stability and truth, the adult world cannot survive without suspense and lies. It is a testament to his innocence and decent spirit that Holden wouldplace the safety and well-being of children as a goal in his lifetime. This serves to only re-iterate the fact that Holden is a sympathetic character, a person of high moral values who is too weak to pick himself up from a difficult situation.
Holden exhibits a cynical self-awareness as he retraces the events that led up to his present position. He has a good many strong opinions, yet he tries to look at both sides of an issue, and, what is perhaps most important, he feels and tries to express his feelings. Holden’s view of what is facile, unreflecting and cliché-ridden in the adult world is to figure largely in the novel. Holden’s reaction—amusement rather than resentment—to the circumstances that caused his expulsion, is another indication of his innate honesty.
The one value that he tends to espouse is authenticity, although he has no concrete definition of what this entails. One of the most intriguing points in Holden's character, related to his prolonged inability to communicate, is Holden's intention to become a deaf-mute. So repulsed is he by the phoniness around him that he wishes not to communicate with anyone, and in a passage filled with personal insight he contemplates a retreat within himself: "I figured that I could get a job at a filling station somewhere, putting gas and oil in people's cars. I didn't care what kind of job it was, though. Just so people didn't know me and I didn't know anybody. I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn't have to have any goddam stupid useless conversation with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they'd have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I'd be through with having conversations for the rest of my life. Everybody would think I was just a poor deaf-mute bastard and they'd leave me alone . . . I'd cook all my own food, and later on, if I wanted to get married or something, I'd meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we'd get married. She'd come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she'd have to write it on a .First, in Chapter one, Holden piece of paper, like everybody else" begins his story during the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall, which was supposed to be a very big deal at Pencey. Selma Thurmer, the daughter of the headmaster, is at the game. Although she is unattractive and a bit pathetic, to Holden she seems nice enough, for she does not lavish praise upon her father.
For another example, Holden loathes to eat beefsteak at every Saturday night in Pencey School. At every Saturday night, they always eat the same dishes—beefsteak, which is a good meal. Why the teachers do so? Only because the next day is Sunday, when the parents come to meet their children, asking what they ate at yesterday evening, the children would say that it is beefsteak. What a good supper! Looking at the beefsteaks, it is hard and dry to chip. Besides, it often goes with many rigid potatoes and the dessert is bread pudding which is made from apple crumb.
Secondly, compared with the adult, Holden is very honest, but his integrity is often questioned. For example, an adult world that does not trust Holden is seen in the incident of the snowball. In chapter five, after making a snowball, Holden looks around for something to act as a target for it, but the snow-covered objects outside his window all look so pristinely lovely that he cannot bring himself to destroy the symmetry of the beautiful scene. He carries the snowball to the bus, but when the bus driver refuses to believe that he is the soul of integrity and once again his integrity is questioned. Another incident that is revelatory of the unsympathetic adult world revolves around Allie’s death. Because Holden broke all the windows in the garage, and then tried to break the car windows, his parents spoke of sending him to a psychiatrist. The adult world does not seem to understand the deep sense of loss that can be felt by an adolescent. Holden contrasts his lovely and likable little redheaded brother with the less attractive people surrounding him; this sharpens his already keen sense of bereavement. The headmaster of Pencey School also a disingenuous man. On every Sunday, when the parents drive cars to take their children to go home, the headmaster always flatters the plutocratic men, while only handshaking with the pool people.
Thirdly, the Cadillac-driving Mr. Ossenburger, after whom Holden’s dormitory is named, is a typical representative of the status seeking, mealy-mouthed middle class. Holden cannot take seriously the wealthy undertaker’s sermon about God being our buddy, for he feels that the man’s status and dignity are false. The expensive automobile, the financial donation to the school, for which the dormitory in his name is a quid pro quo, and his career of profiting on death all underscore Holden’s mocking picture of adult society. Holden accuses the adult sermonizer of being too preoccupied with financial gain and his own status to be worthy of instructing others on religious or moral matters. This indictment could, of course, be applied to the large number of people who have merited it. This is a theme of Salinger’s that recurs, in various guises, throughout his works. Salinger’s characters that he seems most to admire are those who do not wish to appear to others any different than they are. Holden’s description and reactions to the undertaker’s inflated amusing, but they sever a more profound purpose. They deepen our appreciation of Holden’s serious concerns and sharpen our vision of his abundant empathy. We can see just what it is that is contributing to turning Holden into the champion and protector of young innocence.
Fourthly, in Chapter seventeen, superficial social engagements are repellent to Holden, but he continually makes and keeps them. He cannot understand why he blurt out that he loves Sally; he almost convinces himself that it is true at the time, but in his heart he knows that it is not. His desire to be sincere is forever trapping him and leading him to be quit insincere. What is more, the conversation at the theater annoys him greatly because it seems to contain cultural involvement and great significance; in reality, as Holden knows, it is hollow and trivial. The audience at the theater is like a large portion of the audience at an open or concert; they go not to hear the music but to engage in a contest to see who can be the first to destroy an emotion-filled moment with premature applause. The lack of true warmth in social relationship disturbs Holden because he desires to love, to be an adult, to be a person who is committed emotionally and psychologically to another person.
Although Holden has certainly told more than his share of lies, he has a very definite code of honor; he lives up to it and he expects other people to live up to theirs. When Holden faces up to Maurice, it is not for the sake of the money, as we have seen, Holden does not know the value of money, but because Holden cannot abide that kind of dishonesty. Salinger has taken great pains to prepare the reader for Holden’s courageous stand. Holden has previously admitted that he is not physically aggressive, and because he shies away from fights he considers himself to be a coward. This battle, however, involves truth; consequently, Holden abandons all precautions. It is a moral conflict fought out in a most unconventional setting. Although Holden loses the physical encounter with Maurice he has successfully defended his honor.
Apparently, Holden cannot help being generous, no matter how unworthy the recipients of his gifts are. His willingness that almost amounts to an eagerness to oblige in granting favors—although he sometimes keeps caste by affecting reluctance—is indicative of his desperate need for fellowship. His generosity is not limited to material possessions—he gives of his time and company, often against his own inclinations.
Another aspect of Holden’s generosity is his tendency to try to find some good in most people, even if only a miniscule amount. Thus, Stradlater’s self-centeredness is transformed into the ability to keep a secret.
Furthermore, in Chapter fifteen, Holden donated ten yuan to the nuns. The nuns have not fallen victim to the false of materialism philosophy; they stand for a measure of self-sacrifice that extends far beyond the “society charities,” which Holden feels are all based on self-indulgence. This conflict between true charity—or a total commitment —and so called “charity” bothers the youthful protagonist. He rejects internal self-gratification as a fraud and demands that false ego be purged. The money that he gave the nuns is he did for them what he could. Compared with Mr. Ossenburger, this deed means charity, because a charitable act is deserving the name only if the performer of the act is giving up something that he values and getting nothing in t\return. On the contrary, when Mr. Ossenburger donated money to Pencey, his name was immortalized—or so it would have seemed to him—on the dormitory building. Thus, he was making a simple purchase. The egotism behind a charitable act destroys the value of the act, reducing it to self-gratification.
In Holden’s great fear of Jan’s fate at the hands of Stradlater we find the seed of “catcher in the rye” image. He wants to protect her innocence from the potentially corrupting influence of Stradlster. Thus, the lonely youth seeking to establish human companionship is simultaneously concerned with protecting innocence. The two activities work hand in hand.
Holden is a kind boy. Holden was on the side of the angels, despite his contamination by vulgarity, lust, lies, temptations, recklessness, and cynicism. These are merely the devils that make him externally look like, but inside, .his spirit is intact He always tries to consider for others and does not want to make life difficult for people. In the fist place, we see one instance, in Chapter two, although Mr. Spencer regrets the necessity of giving Holden a failing mark, he cannot restrain himself from reading aloud Holden’s inadequate examination composition. Thus, instead of assuaging the boy’s discomfort, he adds to it. Holden, on the other hand, tries to alleviate the teacher’s embarrassment by engaging him in aimless conversation. We see that their relationship is ironically inverted. Holden has more sympathy for and interest in people than does Mr. Spencer. Holden’s attempt to put his teacher at ease fails, in part, because although he has a great awareness, his immaturity precludes his channeling it into actual communication. Instead, Holden thinks, while chatting, about the ducks in Central Park. This delicate concern for the creatures of nature and sensitivity to the mysteries of nature are beyond Mr. Spencer’s perspective ability. The teacher lives in another world.
More over, Holden’s touching concern for children is seen in his conversation with the boys he meets at the meseum. When he tells them all about Egyptian mummies, he is making use of, in a very practical way, the knowledge he gained in Mr. Spencer’s history class. This is an amusing link to the opening section of the book. At last Holden finds that those hard-won facts are of some use. The two boys are frightened and run away from the Egyptian tomb; it is quit appropriate that they should fear the mysterious and the unknown. Holden’s fear is of the unknown, to him, adult world, and of the same obscene phrase in the tomb itself, causing him to speculate on the ubiquity of vulgarity; he feels that it will accompany him to his grave.
Next, in Chapter eight, Holden’s chance meeting with the mother of a schoolmate leads him into the perpetration of the tangled skein of lies. All of his statements are deliberately misleading. He tells Mrs. Morrow exactly what she wants to hear about her son, humoring her own sense of vanity and self-absorption by making her believe that her son, whom Holden loathes, is one of the most honorable and decent students at Pencey. From the psychological justification for this act—for which he feels remorse, even when committing it—arises from his inability to inflict pain; he wants to make the other people feel happy.
Thirdly, we find that Holden is not afflicted with pride in material possessions; the philosophy of “conspicuous consumption” means nothing to him. In the chapter fifteen, he tells us of the time when he was embarrassed because his suitcases were so much nicer than his roommate’s. Displaying his characteristic empathy, Holden tried to hide his suitcases, in consideration of his roommate’s feeling. This thoughtful act did not achieve its desired effect, however, because his roommate wanted the suitcases to be seen so that it would appear as though he owned them. This simple tale illustrates the entire process of jockeying for a superior materialistic image in our society. It is not necessary actually to own things; the appearance of ownership suffices. At about the time that Salinger was writing this book, people who could not afford Cadillacs(the status symbol par excellence) were buying tail fins to make their Chevrolets look like Cadillacs; people who did not own television sets were putting dummy television antennas on their roofs. Moreover, Holden feels very uncomfortable when he is eating eggs and bacon, while the two vestals are only eating coffee and toasts. From this point, we can see that he is a boy who always consider for the others, and he wishes the life of the others is well-being.
Fourthly, one of the most important and revealing sections of the novel involves Holden’s arrival at his home. At last Holden is beginning to formulate his thoughts—a bit incoherently, it is true—about what he wants to do with his life. The “catcher in the rye” is the guardian of innocence and the protector of innocents.
Finally, in the last chapter, Holden’s wish to say goodbye to Phoebe brings him to the school that he attended years ago. The obscene graffiti he discovers on the walls of the school, he tries his best to brush them—he is so anxious to defend the pristine purity of childhood—to be the catcher in the rye.
Certainly Holden is not heroic in the traditional sense. Rather, he fits into the modern anti-heroic hero. He is not conventionally successful in his undertakings. Obviously Holden’s strength does not rest in the traditional successes. Instead he is functioning on a different level, he is fighting a Don Quixote type of battle in order to restore moral order. Holden is heroic in the deepest sense because he truly battles against sham and corruption. His nobility does not reside in his external success but rather in his spiritual struggle. In the last chapter, we can see that Holden is growing up. He does not desire to run away from home, and his concern for people has become more positive. Holden will not submit to the phoniness of life, but will attain an attitude of tolerance, understanding, and loving which will make his . There is no doubt that Holden knows that things won'tmlife endurable remain the same; they are dissolving, and he cannot allow himself to reconcile with it. Holden doesn't have the knowledge to trace his breakdown or the mental clarity to define it, for all he knows is that .n"a large avalanche of disintegration is occurring around him"
When consider the character of Holden Caulfield, many point to the novel's climactic scene, when Holden watches as Phoebe rides the Central Park carousel in the rain and his illusion of protecting the innocence of children is symbolically shattered. Critics regard this episode as Holden's transition into adulthood, for although the future is uncertain, his severed ties with the dead past have enabled him to accept maturity.
Holden represents the lonely American youth seeking to establish a moral code based on transcendent values. Holden’s wealthy background, however, allows him to skip over all the middle-class materialistic concerns of our society. Holden’s ambition to be the “catcher in the rye” symbolizes his desire to establish a moral order. (His name is a pun upon this theme: “hold” in “field”.) Humorous as well as honest but by no means perfect, Holden searches for some purposeful relationship, but he is not yet prepared for an adult role in society. His interest in everything stems from his youthful search for experience and freedom. His general breakdown may have been brought about by society, but it does lead him back to reality with a new awareness. Holden’s new awareness, however, will not change society. Holden Caufield does not give society a moral vision that transcends the false power and false security that materialism offers as the raisond’etre of our society. But he is growing up, what he does gain for himself is the recognition that no man is an island.
An Analysis of American Fiction
The Characteristic of Holden Caulfield as a Protagonist in “The Catcher In The Rye” by Jerome David Salinger
This paper is submitted to fulfill on the final
Assignment of American Fiction 2010/2011
Name : MUSFIRAH
Reg. Number : F21108001
Department : English Department
Faculty of Letters
University of Hasanuddin