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    The Life and Times of Holden Caufield Essay

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    Holden Caulfield is the controversial character in The Catcher in theRye. He goes through many changes throughout the novel as he matures froma child to an adult. In this book, he is portrayed as a confused teenager tryingto find his place in the crazy world, while criticizing his foes andcontradicting himself.

    The way he presents himself throughout the novelallows readers to relate to him better. His experiences and his thoughts vary,but still revolve around one main center of gravity which the author, J. D. Holden has many distinct characteristics that set him apart from hispeers.

    There is one problem that he cannot escape, and that is lying. Holdenlies to everyone including two nuns that he meets in a diner. Another thing ishis language. This is representative of the typical adolescence of his timeand place and indicative of his personal fears and frustrations. (Magill,Magills. .

    . 1803). He is sixteen years old and a junior at Pencey Prep Schoolin Agerstown, Pennsylvania. His age ties in to his openness. Holden oftenexpresses his feelings because he is at the age where he does not really careabout others.

    He is not afraid to tell people what he thinks or how he feelsabout them. Holden criticizes people for the little things that they do. Hestereotypes them just by the things that he notices about them. Throughout the story, Holden seems to have a goal set for himself.

    This quest involves the preserving of innocence. He believes that if a childcan be saved from the cruel world and things in it, they will be spared. Another thing in this journey is that he is looking for an ideal, but un-humanlove that will meet all demands. This means that he will have a love foreveryone that is unconditional and that he will recieve love from everyoneelse. Finally, the most important task, is the search for an identity. He isconstantly trying to find his true self amongst all the evils of the world.

    Lateron, Holden realizes he can achieve none of this (Unger 555). The family is really not emphasized much in the context of this book. Holden does not ever look to his family for help with his struggles or forguidance along the way. Although he does mention his two brothers D. B. and Allie, the only member he connects with is his younger sister, Phoebe.

    They seem to share a common bond that links them to each other. Hisparents never really offer him the shelter that he is looking for. He isconstantly searching for someone or something to turn to when he needs help,but considers none of his family members (Magill, Critical. . . 2935).

    Holdensparents are considered wealthy and provide him with expensive, top of theline luggage. Their only flaw mentioned is that they are too busy and do notThere is much irony scattered throughout Holdens story. Oneexample is how, from the very beginning of the novel, he tells of key thingsthat he detests, like when people repeat things constantly over and over. Hedoes not realize that right after he says this, he contradicts himself and doesthe things he says he hates. It is also ironic how Holden despises hisroommate, Stradlater. He is always complaining about what a phony that heis and how he is a secret slob.

    Yet, at some points, Holden comments that hewould not mind being like him. His cruelty toward others and his frustrationover his own mistakes just mix together (Lieder 2). Symbolism is another theme that runs throughout the novel. Holdenhas a dream that one day he can be the ultimate protector of all children.

    Hewants to save these children from being exposed to the evil world we live in. His dream is counterbalanced by a feeling of falling that he always gets. These two things seem to meet in his idea of a perfect world and everythingalways stays the same (Unger 557). Time is also used as a type ofsymbolism. The setting of the novel is in the cold, and in the middle ofwinter.

    Time to celebrate Christmas, the ending of one year and awaiting ofanother in a time of expiration. Holdens story is one of death to hisadolescent self and a rebirth to a new refreshed and mature Holden (Unger 556). This book can also be seen as a growing process. At the beginning, heis immature and then as he approaches adulthood, he starts to get nervous andworried of what lies ahead (Magill, Critical. .

    . 2935). The world is also usedin expressing symbolism. It is often used to represent the madness andcruelty that ruins people.

    Holden refers to it when he is talking of theimminent fall from innocence (Magill, Magills. . . 1803-1804). Holden experiences many changes as the maturing process goes on. He realizes that he can not be the catcher in the rye.

    The children are goingto be transformed and effected by the world in some way, no matter how hardhe tries to prevent it. He is also reborn to a knowledge of the world aroundhim. This refocuses the way he thinks. He, himself is transformed. Herealizes his own phoniness and deception toward others. This is a major step.

    The main thing that happens is that he obtains a love for everything. Throughthis he finds his true identity and learns the concept of compassion. Throughthese changes he becomes peaceful. A survivor who finally achieves peaceof mind.

    (Hipple 106). Holden also realizes that even though he misseseveryone, he only really respected all children and the two nuns. Holden Caulfield was confused, he criticized a lot of people, but healso made some people think better of themselves through lying. In thisbook, The Catcher in the Rye, he penetrates his own phoniness, in a sort ofretrospect, and realizes his faults. This represents a mature knowledge thatlies at the novels center of gravity.

    (Unger 555). After coming to theseconclusions, it puts an end to all the struggles that Holden went through to getBibliography:Bibliography”Characters of The Catcher in the Rye. ” http://www. classicnote.

    com/classicnotes/titles/catcherrye/charlist. html. September 12, 2000. Harte, Barbara and Riley, Carolyn, ed.

    “J. D. Salinger. ” Contemporary Authors:A Bibliographical Guide to Current Authors and their Works. Volumes5-8. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1969.

    Hipple, Ted, ed. “J. D. Salinger. ” Writers for Young Adults. Volume 3.

    New York:Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1997. “Holden Caulfield. ” http://catcherintherye. terrashore. com/cast. html.

    September 12, 2000. Lieder, Tim. “So where do the ducks go in winter?” http://www. geocites. com /SoHo/gallery/7466/catcher-rye.

    html. September 12, 2000. Magill, Frank N. ,ed. “J. D.

    Salinger. ” Critical Survey of Long Fiction: English Language Series, Revised Edition. Volume 6. Pasadena: Salem Press, 1991. —. “J.

    D. Salinger. ” Magill’s Survey of American Literature. Volume 5. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1991.

    Unger, Leonard, ed. “J. D. Salinger” American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies.

    Volume 3. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.

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