The Catcher in the Rye and The Glass Menagerie
The person someone becomes is influenced by the losses they have experienced in their life. In Catcher
in the Rye the main character Holden Caulfield is devastated by the loss of his younger brother Allie to leukemia. The loss of Allie never leaves Holdens mind. It changes his perception of the world. In The Glass Menagerie Amanda Wingfields husband abandons her and their two children Tom and Laura. For Amanda the only way to deal with the loss is to escape into a dream world. She forces this delusion onto Tom and Laura Loss of anything a loved one, a friend or a cherished possession can affect the way a person feels. Loss can change a persons reactions or attitude toward something. This may cause the person to change the way they live their life or the decisions they make. Loss leaves an impression on a person.
Holden Caulfield is tormented by Allies death. The night Allie died Holden slept in the garage and broke all the
windows with his fists. This was the only way Holden could deal with the loss of Allie. Allie becomes the model of the ideal person for Holden. Throughout Catcher in the Rye whenever Holden talks about Allie its what a great person he was. He describes Allie as extremely intelligent, someone you would have liked and as someone that never got angry. Everyone Holden meets or sees he compares them to this image of Allie but almost no one meets the standards. As Holden is eating breakfast in a diner he sees two nuns come in and helps them with their suitcases. He thinks nothing of them until he notices that their suitcases seem inexpensive. Holden talks about how he hates it when someone has cheap suitcases and how he can just get to hate someone for having them.
Holden never gets over Allies death. It causes him to become restless. He is searching for something
to replace the gap in his life that Allie left. He looked up to Allie. Whenever Holden finds something that can replace Allie he discovers flaws about it. Holden feels that if he finds something he is betraying Allie. He never truly finds something to fill the void. When Phoebe asks Holden to name something he likes a lot he cant think of anything besides Allie. Phoebe says Allie doesn’t really count because hes dead. Holden argues I can still like him, though, cant I? Just because somebodys dead, you dont just stop liking them especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know thatre alive and all.
Holden becomes reluctant to change because of Allies death. The loss of Allie was a great change in Holdens
life. Allie had always been there. This causes Holden to associate change with negative emotions. As Holden is walking to the Museum of Natural History he begins to recollect memories of the museum. Holden talks about the exhibits of Indians and animals but says the best thing was that the museum stayed the same. No matter how many times you visited it never changed, nobody would have moved or become different. Holden felt that certain things should stay the same. He goes on to say you ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.
Amanda Wingfields life is turned upside down by her husbands departure. In her mind it shatters hope for
a future. To cope with this predicament Amanda tries to relive her youth. Once, after eating dinner Amanda mentions how she received seventeen gentlemen callers in Blue Mountain. She boasts that her callers were the most prominent men of Mississippi. Amanda says she knew how to entertain company and that she had a pretty face and a graceful figure.
The loss of her husband causes Amanda to develop a dependence on her children. She wants Tom and Laura to become successful. Amanda complains that Tom does not earn enough money at the shoe factory. She wants him to attend night school so he can attain a better career. Amanda sends Laura to Rubicams Business College to learn typewriting. When she finds out that Laura quits school she is crushed and says, What are we going to do the rest of our lives? After Amanda realizes that Laura will never have a career as a secretary she develops the idea that a gentlemen caller will be able to guarantee her and Lauras future. She asks Tom to find someone for Laura. Tom does indeed find someone but it turns out he is engaged and Amanda once again begins to worry about the future.
After being left by her husband Amanda begins to long for social and financial success. She see that her time to
attain these goals is running short. Her yearning to achieve success prevents her from perceiving the reality that is her life. When Tom informs Amanda that a gentlemen caller will be visiting he says not to except much of Laura because she is different from other girls but Amanda tells him she feels the difference is all to her advantage. Amanda pretties up the apartment and puts on the dress she used to wear in the south to impress the gentlemen caller. She tries to cover up the fact that they are not well off. Tom is a dreamer. He hides in the closet at the factory and writes poems. Amanda refuses to see this and thinks Tom will become a successful businessman. She blames her husband for her childrens bad qualities. When Tom stays out late or smokes Amanda says you got it from you father.
Holden and Amanda were both traumatized by the loss they experienced. Holdens view of the world changes
because of Allies death. In Holdens mind no one will ever live up to Allie. Holden cant see good in the world anymore. There is something wrong with everything when matched up against Allie. Even though this is true Holden is on an endless quest to find something that can replace Allie. The loss of Allie causes Holden to feel only something negative can result from change. The loss of her husband throws Amanda into a fantasy world. She will not accept that she should be anything other than the southern lady she was brought up to be, that Laura is peculiar or that Tom is not a budding businessman, and that she herself might be in some ways responsible for the sorrows and flaws of her children. Loss affects people in different ways. It can tear them apart or make them stronger. For both Holden and Amanda loss forces them to struggle with their emotions in an attempt to find ways of dealing with the loss.
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