Untitled Essay, Research Paper
The Catcher in the RyeIn J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the first personnarration is critical in helping the reader to know and understandthe main character, Holden Caulfield. Holden, in his narration,relates a flashback of a significant period of his life, three daysand nights on his own in New York City. Through his narration,Holden discloses to the reader his innermost thoughts and feelings.He thus provides the reader not only with information of whatoccurred, but also how he felt about what happened.Holden’s thoughts and ideas reveal many of his charactertraits. One late Saturday night, four days before the beginning ofschool vacation, Holden is alone, bored and restless, wonderingwhat to do. He decides to leave Pencey, his school, at once andtravels to New York by train. He decides that, once in New York,he will stay in a cheap motel until Wednesday, when he is to returnhome. His plan shows the reader how very impetuous he is and howhe acts on a whim. He is unrealistic, thinking that he has afoolproof plan, even though the extent of his plans are to “take aroom in a hotel.., and just take it easy till Wednesday.”Holden’s excessive thoughts on death are not typical of mostadolescents. His near obsession with death might come from havingexperienced two deaths in his early life. He constantly dwells onAllie, his brother’s, death. From Holden’s thoughts, it is obviousthat he loves and misses Allie. In order to hold on to his brotherand to minimize the pain of his loss, Holden brings Allie’sbaseball mitt along with him where ever he goes. The mitt hasadditional meaning and significance for Holden because Allie hadwritten poetry, which Holden reads, on the baseball mitt. Holden’spreoccupation with death can be seen in his contemplation of a deadclassmate, James Castle. It tells the reader something aboutHolden that he lends his turtleneck sweater to this classmate, withwhom he is not at all close.Holden’s feelings about people reveal more of his positivetraits. He constantly calls people phonies, even his brother,D.B., who ” has sold out to Hollywood.” Although insulting, hisseemingly negative feelings show that Holden is a thinking andanalyzing, outspoken individual who values honesty and sincerity.He is unimpressed with people who try to look good in other’s eyes.Therefore, since it is obvious that Holden is bright, the reasonfor his flunking out of school would seem to be from a lack ofinterest.Holden has strong feelings of love towards children asevidenced through his caring for Phoebe, his little sister. He isprotective of her, erasing bad words from the walls in her schooland in a museum, in order that she not learn from the graffiti.His fondness for children can be inferred when he tells her that,at some time in the future, he wants to be the only grown-up with”all these little kids playing some game in this big field of ryeand all.” He’ll stand on the edge of a cliff and catch anybody whostarts to fall off the edge of the cliff. He got this image fromhis misinterpretation of a line from the Robert Burns poem, ” if abody catch a body comin’ through the rye.”When situations are described, in person or in a book, theyare influenced by the one who describes them, and by his or herperceptions and experiences. Through Holden’s expressions of histhoughts and feelings, the reader sees a youth, sensitive to hissurroundings, who chooses to deal with life in unique ways. Holdenis candid, spontaneous, analytical, thoughtful, and sensitive, asevidenced by his narration. Like most adolescents, feelings aboutpeople and relationships are often on his mind. Unfortunately, inHolden’s case, he seems to expect the worst, believing that theresult of getting close to people is pain. Pain when others rejectyou or pain when they leave you, such as when a friend walks off ora beloved brother dies. It would not have been possible to feelHolden’s feelings or understand his thoughts nearly as well had thebook been written in third person.