Crazy Old Holden Essay, Research Paper
Crazy Old Holden
If you really want to hear about it, there is alot of symbolism in Catcher in the Rye.
This novel, written by J.D. Salinger, utilizes symbols to portray different themes. Of these
symbols there are three that are strongly related to Holden. The operation, being a
madman, and stepping of a curb all play a vital role in the novel by J.D. Salinger.
Holden is a very disturbed individual. Every since the death of his little brother,
Allie, he has been going crazy. Holden even describes himself as a madman. Holden
talked about being a madman while he was talking to the cab driver. Holden asked where
the ducks went when the weather got cold. The cab driver thought this was a strange
question and turned around to look at Holden like he was “a madman” (60). The cabby
thought that it was an absurd question because everyone knew that the ducks went south
for the winter. That is why the cab drive turned around to look at Holden like he was
crazy. Another instance where Holden mentioned the madman was while talking to
Sunny, the prostitute. Sunny came to Holden’s place because he wanted to have sex with
her. Instead, Holden didn’t want to have sex, but he wanted to talk. Sunny thought that
this was very odd of Holden to want to talk to a prostitute, rather than have sex, so she
looked at him as if he were “a madman” (95).
Going along with the madman theme is the operation that Holden talks about. The
operation he is always talking about is a brain operation. He speaks of it while on the train
with Mrs. Morrow. She asked Holden to visit her and her son during the break.
However, Holden didn’t want to so he told her that he had to have this “operation” (58).
Another time that Holden mentions the operation is with Sunny. While they are talking
Holden tells her he had an “operation” (96). He tells Sunny about having an operation
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because she wonders why he does not want to have sex with her. In both cases, there is
something wrong with Holden, and he knows it. That is why he talks about the brain
operation. He knows that he can be crazy and he wants to try and fix it. He talks about
the brain operations because he thinks that will help him fix his problem.
A major symbol in the novel is the curb. After Holden sees a little boy crossing the
street he crosses the street after him. However, he felt differently about stepping onto the
street. Holden says that “every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the
goddam curb, I had this feeling that I’d never get to the other side of the street” (197).
This quote is a large motif. Throughout the novel there is a feeling of death. Holden feels
that while walking across the street he may not make it to the other side. he knows that
he is gong crazy and that it might actually kill him.
Throughout the story these three symbols play a key role in letting a reader know
what is going on with Holden. The madman is a sign of him being crazy. The operation is
a symbol for trying to fix the craziness. Holden knows that there is something wrong with
his mind and he wants a brain operation to fix it. The third symbol, the curb, is the symbol
for death. Holden thinks that if he does not have an operation to fix himself he will die.
Without these symbols the reader would have no idea what is going on inside Holden’s
head. The quotes in this paper are alot easier to understand if you read the novel. But
they might be even easier if you knew Holden. “God, I wish you could’ve been there.”