Catcher In The Rys Vs. Breaking Away Essay, Research Paper
Catcher in the Rye vs. Breaking Away
Both “Catcher in the Rye” a controversial novel by J.D. Salinger and “Breaking Away” a film viewed in class show two characters Holden and Dave, who often use lies to compensate for what they feel is lacking in their own identity. Lies are also present within relationships with their family and their peers as well as used to disguise low self-esteem. Both Holden and Dave’s situations are good examples of what happens to one’s life when dishonesty and lies are involved and how hard the struggle is to fix and overcome the damage that these lies have caused.
Holden and Dave often use lies throughout the stories to try and become someone they are not. They do this because they feel that who they are is not up to society’s standards. This feeling of inadequacy leads the boys to imagine and create an identity that they deem worthy enough to call their own. While sitting next to a classmate’s mother on the train Holden, when given the chance to talk about himself, creates a fantasy image of what his life is really like.
” ‘No, everybody’s fine at home.’ I said. ‘It’s me. I have to have this operation.’
‘Oh! I’m so sorry,’ she said. She really was, too. I was right away sorry I’d said it but it was too late.
‘It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.’
‘Oh, no!’ She put her hand up to her mouth and all.
‘Oh, I’ll be all right and everything! It’s right near the outside. And it’s a very tiny one. They can take it out in about to minutes.’
Then I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop lying. Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it.”(Pg. 58)
This quotation shows Holden’s need for attention. Holden feels that his own identity is lacking sympathy and support and he uses lies and manipulation to achieve that attention.
Dave also tries to become someone he’s not and through lies he feels as though he accomplishes this. Dave feels that his own life is insignificant and pointless. Being a cyclist, Dave admires the Italian racing team. He admires the Italians to such great extent that he begins to impersonate them. Dave begins to substitute his way of life in order to mimic the Italians. He begins to study and speak the language, decorate all his belongings with the Italian flag and emblem as well as shave his legs to be like the Italian racers. Both Holden and Dave chose to create a false identity or life that they felt surpassed their own. By doing this, the boys began to create a fantasy or illusion of their life by substituting what is lacking from their own identity and replacing it with what they imagine to be perfect. Thus, by doing this both Holden and Dave begin to struggle and lose their grip on reality.
Not only do Holden and Dave deceive themselves, but they extend this dishonesty into the relationships they intend to form with others. Lying becomes the only method that both Holden and Dave have come to rely on when it comes to the courage needed for making valuable connections with friends and family. Holden, who receives no support or affection from his family, not only lies to himself, but also to a young girl named Sally. Holden is in great need of companionship and is afraid of being alone. Due to this fear and this need to feel as though he belongs and connects to something, Holden creates a fantasy world. He wishes that he and Sally could run away from all the ‘phony’ people and live in a childlike happiness forever. Even though Holden is not interested in Sally, she provides him with the companionship and attention that has been denied him by his family and that he so desperately needs.
“She looked terrific. She really did. She had on this black coat and sort of a black beret. She hardly ever wore a hat, but the beret looked nice. The funny part is, I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her. I’m crazy. I didn’t even like her much, and yet all of a sudden I felt like I was in love with her and wanted to marry her. I swear to God I’m crazy.” (Pg.124)
This quotation shows Holden’s need for companionship and the means he will use to attain that need. This quotation also shows Holden’s realization that he is losing his grip on reality.
Dave, who is always criticized at home by his father, also uses lies within his relationships. Dave living in Livingston, Indiana in 1979 was often insulted and discriminated against by the college students for being a ‘cutter’ or a local. Rivalry and competition often took place between the two cliques, and this caused Dave to feel insignificant and inadequate to the girls he felt were of higher status. Dave thought that if the beautiful college student Katherine believed he was an Italian exchange student attending college that he would have a better chance of going out with her than if she knew he was just a local. Dave went on pretending he was an exchange student over the course of a few weeks and even went to the trouble of serenading Katherine in Italian. Through Dave’s lies and deceitful actions he not only hurt himself, but also hurt Katherine in the process. Both Holden and Dave chose to lie within their relationships and ended up ruining most, if not all, chances they had to make their relationships work out.
It is also evident in Holden and Dave that lies are also used to conceal low self-esteem and this could conceivably be the reason for the feeling of inadequacy that both boys have acquired. Holden lies to conceal his identity and hide his low self-esteem by wearing his ‘people hunting hat’; a red hunting that Holden wears when he is angry and uses it as an excuse to feel strong and confident. When Holden is wearing the hat he says and does inconsistent things and it symbolizes Holden’s quest to fit in or find out the meaning of his existence.
” I put on my red hunting hat, and turned the peak around back, the way I liked it’d then I yelled at the top of my goddamn lungs ‘Sleep tight, ya morons!’ “(Pg. 52)
This quotation shows Holden’s need to hide his identity in order to conceal his low self-esteem. Holden uses the hat as an escape from reality and himself.
Dave, as does Holden, uses lies to hide his low confidence. Dave is afraid of disappointing his father and feels that everything he does is a complete failure. Dave, who is set to compete in the big bike race against the college boys, lies and says he cannot compete because he doesn’t want to lose and disappoint his father. Dave is also scared to compete against the college boys. He fears that they will win and he will have to live with feeling that he is only second best forever. Through lies and fear Dave almost misses out on a great opportunity and a chance not only to prove that he can do it but also to prove to his father that he is not a failure. Both Holden and Dave chose to hide their true identity rather than accept who they are and move on. This also contributed to the difficult and dishonest path the boys have chosen to follow.
In conclusion lies are visible and constantly used by both Holden in “The Catcher in the Rye’s” and Dave in “Breaking Away’s” as a method of filling in the missing blanks to their own lives, identities and relationships. It is evident that these lies may have been the cause of the downward cycle both boys took throughout the stories. Taking an honest approach may have made the difference between failure and success as well as changed the course that both of these young boys had taken. Lies are not an excuse but rather an escape that will eventually catch up to the individuals. In the end, the aftermath is harder to accept and the rebuilding of trust, stability and an honest life is harder to do. Therefore, both Holden and Dave are left to confront the conflict within them caused by their lies and must begin the process of growing up.