Conrad Vs. Holden Essay, Research Paper
Conrad Vs. Holden
Getting over a traumatic experience can be troubling to anyone, especially when the experience deals with a close family member or friends. Whether the problem is feeling unloved by your parents, being rejected by your friends or even having suicidal thoughts, the result can be just as destructive as those results of Holden s problems from the Catcher in the Rye and Conrad s problems from Ordinary People. These two novels begin with a trigger accident that affects the mental health of these two characters. Their personality changes as well as, relationships, and conflicts arise. Conrad Jarrett from Ordinary People by Judith Guest can be compared to J.D. Salinger s, The Catcher in the Rye, in terms of character s personalities, relationships with their families, conflicts with fate and theme of escapism.
The protagonist Holden from The Catcher in the Rye and the protagonist from Ordinary People can be compared in terms of their personalities. Holden is a psycho who has gone mad after losing his younger brother, Allie. He reacts to anything false said about his brother, like when Stradlater, a roommate of his at Pencey Prep School, said For Chrissake, Holden. This is about a goddamn baseball glove (Salinger, pg. 41). At this point Holden had written Stradlater a composition for his English class, but Stradlater rejected it. Holden angrily tore up the paper at once and trashed it. In addition, Holden believes most people put on a plastic image to hide their true image. For instance, he says Old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody s parents when they drove up the school. He d be charming as hell and all Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parent Old Haas would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he d go talk with somebody else s parent (Salinger, pg. 14). Holden is talking bout Old Haas, a former principal at Elkton Hills, a former school he attended. He calls Old Haas a phony and says that he put on a false image when he spoke to parents and this drove Holden crazy. Holden states It makes me so depressed, I go crazy (Salinger, pg. 14). Holden can t stand the fact that people put on fake images. He doesn t like phony people but wants a society in which everyone expresses himself or herself truthfully. However, even though Holden has a negative point of view of the society and calls everyone a phony, he himself is a phony because he also puts on a fake image when he meets someone he likes. An example of this occurs when he takes off from Pencey and is taking the subway to downtown New York. There he meets a women who happens to be Ernest Morrow s, a student at Pencey, mother. When she asks him what his name was, Holden answers Rudolf Schmidt (Salinger, pg. 54). He did this because he didn t feel like telling her his whole life story. He says, I didn t feel like giving her my whole life history. Rudolf Schmidt was the name of the janitor of our dorm (Salinger, pg.55). This shows that Holden was dishonest with the people he liked. He then regrets and infers I liked her, though. I was beginning to feel sort of sorry I d told her my name was Rudolf Schmidt (Salinger, pg.56). On the other hand, Holden has a sensitive and innocent side. For instance, Holden buys Phoebe a record called Little Shirley Bean which was hard to find. He struggled to look for it all because he liked to see his sister, Phoebe happy, but he drops it and it breaks. He says I damn near cried, it made me feel terrible they weren t any good for anything, but I didn t feel like just throwing them away (Salinger, pg.154). This quote expresses Holden s sentimental feels and innocence. It tells the reader that Holden is close to Phoebe and regrets dropping the record. Similarly, Conrad s personality is delirious, but also innocent and sensitive. Conrad reacts to anything said to him about his deceased brother, Jordan, or about him. For example, Conrad overhears Stillman, one of his teammates on the swimming team, say He (Conrad) s a flake (Guest, pg.76). This upsets Conrad and builds up anger inside him. Moreover, Conrad had a sensitive side. For example, he shows his sympathy towards his girlfriend, Jeannine, when she tells him a depressing story about her life. He hold her tenderly again him (Guest, pg.231) narrator says. This gesture shown by Conrad towards his girlfriend explains his feeling toward her and her pain. On the other hand, Conrad doesn t express his emotions as easily as Holden. He keeps it inside him so people don t look at him as if he was crazy. For instance, Stillman, a friend, says, Hey, there s Pratt lemme out. I need a jump . nice ass (Guest, pg.16). This quote is referring to Conrad s yet to become girlfriend, Jeannine. Even when Stillman makes this annoying comment about Jeannine, Conrad keeps the anger to himself. In addition, Conrad had trouble making decisions for him. For example, the narrator narrates, Too many details crowd his mind. Brush his teeth first? Wash his face? What pants should he wear? What shirt? (Guest, pg.2). This shows he s confused and has an unstable mind. He eventually settles down his mind, by learning from his problems, such as being able to cope with his brother, Jordan s death.
Holden and Conrad con also be compared in terms of family relationships. The family relationships change, after the loss of their siblings. For instance, Holden doesn t communicate with his father for any matter. He feels he cannot relate to him. Holden is afraid to make any communication with his mother because she became sick after his brother, Allie s death: She hasn t felt too healthy since my brother Allie died. She s very nervous (Salinger, pg.107). When he failed at Pencey, which was an all boy boarding school, he hated it for her to know because she was unhealthy. He used to bond with his elder brother, D.B until he became a part of Hollywood. For example, Holden says his brother, D.B, who has now become an adult, has sold out and become a prostitute in Hollywood (Salinger, pg.1). He feels that his brother has become a part of the phonies. On the contrary, Holden gets along with his younger siblings. He feels that children are innocent and adults are phonies, such as his brother, D.B, who was innocent but now had turned into a phony. An example of his relationships with his sister Phoebe is, after running away from school and running around in New York, Holden decides to visit Phoebe, the only person in his family whom he could relate. He wanted to drop by and say hi to Phoebe only because he planned to ride the rails after that. For instance, he says I figured that if I didn t bump smuck into my parents and all I d be able to say hello to old Phoebe and then beat it (Salinger, pg.157). Also, Holden had a close connection with his younger dead brother, Allie. He was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at anybody (Salinger, pg. 38). In this quote, Holden speaks of Allie and states how intelligent he was. He saw him as an innocent person since he wasn t an adult yet. When Allie died, Holden had a real impact on his death because he was much attached to him. At times when Holden got lonely, he d begin to speak to his brother as comfort, like when he says Everytime I d get to the end of a block I d make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I d say to him Allie, don t let me disappear when I d reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I d thank him (Salinger, pg. ). This also shows the psychotic side of Holden because he speaks to someone who s not there. His health begins to deteriorate at this point. In the same way, Conrad is attached to his older dead brother, Jordan. After his death, Conrad had become shaky and weak. Because of this, he was placed in a mental institution. Conrad isolated himself from everybody because he felt it depressed him to be around him or her. It just gave him memories of his brother. For instance, Conrad leaves his friends, who were also friends of Jordan s. Once when Lazenby, a friend, comes up to him and asks why he was avoiding them (friends), Conrad replies I can t help it it hurts too much to be around you (Guest, pg.168). Conrad also speaks to Jordan when he misses him and gests lonely. Such as, while he was home alone, during the time his parents went on vacation, he begins to think of the moments he had with Jordan and speaks to him: Buck (Jordan) take me with you, I don t want to do this alone (Guest, pg. 201) he says. His relationship with his mother isn t as bonding and sensitive than that of Holden and his mother s. Conrad loses his relationship with his mother because of his suicide attempt. Beth (his mother) thinks Conrad tried to commit suicide to hurt her. She cannot forgive him for it. This even ceases the talk between Beth and Conrad, and finally the relationship falls apart. Although Conrad knows that he won t be forgiven by Beth, he tries to have a good relationship with her. Toward the end of the book, Conrad tries very hard to make up with his mother: And he (Conrad) goes to her (Beth) then, without any hesitation, it is what he has come downstairs for, obviously. He bends his head, puts an arm around her in a quick clumsy embrace. G night . His voice is thick. He exits swiftly, his face turned away (Guest, pg.225). However, his relationship with his father is the total opposite to his relationship with his mother. He is much closer and bonding with Calvin (father). He can openly talk to him about his feelings and problems. At one point, when Conrad gets into a fight his mother he tells his father, pg.104)
Conrad from Ordinary People and Holden from the Catcher in the Rye are involved in conflicts with fate. Both characters from the two stories have to face fate. Fate is the trigger accident, which occurs to Holden and Conrad. The loss of their siblings is the trigger accidents that affect them mentally. Holden loses his younger brother Allie because he had leukemia. Holden had a hard time coping with his death. For instance, he tells the reader I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don t blame them. I really don t. I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time, and I couldn t do it (Salinger, pg.39). This quote expresses Holden s anger and depression when his brother died. It also shows the love he had for him that caused him to take out his anger by hurting himself. Holden s health begins to deteriorate because of his depression. He drops out of school. He says, I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself (Salinger pg.4). This means he couldn t concentrate on his schoolwork because he had experienced the loss of a sibling and was depressed. At the end of the novel, there are several quotes, which imply that Holden ends up in a mental institution while expressing his feelings. Specifically, one strong quote which implies that he s in a mental institution. He says, especially, this one psychoanalyst guy they have here (Salinger, pg.213) that indicates that Holden s health had deteriorated and ended up in a mental institution in the end. In the same way, Conrad had been affected by Jordan s death. He had experienced the loss of his brother in a boating accident, which affects him mentally and causes his health to deteriorate. Conrad s father, at one time, thinks back to the time Conrad reacted to his brother s death: He didn t want to know, didn t want to believe it was happening, Con, open the door! Let me in! nightmare of blood, the towels soaked with it, leaking there over flow onto the rug, the floor. His (Conrad) arm curved, hiding his face. A sea-fan of dried blood on the wall behind his head in the hospital let me die I want to die (Guest, pg.222). This quote implies that Conrad attempted suicide because he couldn t take the pain. His brother s death caused him to run from the pain.
In order to solve this problem, Conrad tried to become his brother so everybody wouldn t feel his (Jordan s) loss. However, this just caused Conrad to deteriorate inside, so he began to see a psychoanalyst, Dr. Berger. Dr. Berger teaches him justice, is for the not-so-perfect kid to become the other perfect kid. For everybody that is one hell of a burden because he can t figure out how to solve the problem, he decides to destroy it (Guest, pg.207). In this quote, D. Berger is referring to Conrad being the not-so-perfect kid who has to face reality and not run from it, such as committing suicide. Conrad, by the end of the novel realizes this and copes with this fact.
In summary, any terrible experience in a person s life can be very damaging and sometimes people may not be able to get over it. In some cases, getting useful help such as Conrad and Holden did, it can comfort the person. Personalities can have a positive affect on them, relationships with families would become less troublesome, conflicts with fate would decrease and most importantly the understanding of the problem helps the person from running from it. I would recommend these novels to students who feel could cope with the feeling of death and depression.