The Catcher in The Rye. A book report on Holdens link to his childhood.

Essay by launchpadHigh School, 10th gradeA+, October 2003

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

Downloaded 56 times

The Catcher In The Rye

The book "The Catcher In The Rye" is a tale which weaves into the

readers mind all the nostalgia and decisions of childhood. The main

character in the novel, Holden Caulifield, is a yound man of about 16 years

who is finding it hard to escape his childhood and become an adult. Holden

believes that everyone in the adult world is a "fake" or a "phony." He also

believes that the only way to survive in the adult world is for someone to

become corrupt. Holden does not seem to have any friends or close

aquaintances (Mr. Antolini is not really a good friend of his) because he is

constantly being moved around from school to school. He would have the

reader believe that the reason for his being constantly moved around is not

for lack of knoledge, heavens no, but because suddenly he realized that all

the folks around him were "phonys" aloowing him the descision to leave.

Holden respects children very much, as the only people he seems to

care about are his sister Phoebe, his dead brother, Allie, and his older brother

D.B. These are all people who he has been in contact with all throughout his

childhood and he has memories with each of them that he holds dear. He has

kept his brother Allie's glove as a reminder of him. Holden realizes that, in

childhood, people think not of their appearance but merely what they know

of themselves. Holden himself does not always dress according to what

people think; he is always wearing his red hunting cap around and receiving

strange looks, and his hair is cut in a very dischevelled crew cut.

While tellling the reader of his time at Pencey, Holden says that most

adults are "secret slobs." A prime example of a "secret slob" is Holdens

roomate, Stradlater.

Stradlater seems to be a very popular kind of person. He plays sports.

He always has dates to go on; however, Stradlater is the kind of fellow who

shaves twice, yet never cleans his razor. He will spend all the time in the

world fixing his hair, yet he asks his friends to borrow clothes so he can look


Ackley, while not having the adult characteristics of being too

engrossed with his physical appearance, is even more revolting to Holden.

His teeth are mossy and discolored from never brushing them, and he has an

annoying personality. Because of these things, Holden seems to dislike

Ackley even more than Stradlater (the "secret slob").

Holden is caught between two very different worlds, the world of

childhood, where everything can be alright and he never has to move

his kings from the back row, and the world of adulthood, where he

must take risks and apply himself more to what he does.

For example, the reader is rushed back to a nostalgic memory of

childhood when Holden shows the two young boys where the

mummies are, then remarks to himself how, everything else stays the

same while the people grow older. I believe that Holden is thinking that,

even when he is an old man, or is dead and gone, the things in that museum

will still be there, in exactly the same place they were when he was a young

boy, wandering the halls. The Indians will still be bent over from their catch

of fish, and the mummies will still be there, in the same place as always, the

only thing that will be different would be himself. This probably shoves

Holden even deeper into the depression which he is clearly showing.

While wandering the streets of New York, looking for entertainment

after his expulsion, he seems very lonely. He looks to bars and strong drink

for the companionship he feels he needs but it is not to be found. In one bar,

he sees a table with three girls at it and decides it would be gentlemanly of

him to ask one of them to dance with him. After dancing with one, he feels

that her dancing skills were a bit needing, he dances with all the rest of the

girls and then sits with them to buy drinks. He feels that every one of them is

shallow and rude and does not even offer to help pay for the drinks (even

though he would not have made them anyway). He seems even more soured

by this experience, and decides it would be best to go back to his hotel room,

thinking that the entire world must be filled with rude phonys.

When he is in the elevator on the way back up to his room, he asks the

man to send a prostitute up to his room. Her name is Sunny. When she

gets to his room, he feels not the need to realieve his sexual tension, but the

need to communicate and perhaps have a conversation with the girl. He is

saddened by the way she looks when she hangs up her dress on the hook, I

believe he can still see the parts of her childhood which were robbed from

her when she took up her new profession, a little girl, forced into the world

of adults. This depresses him more than anything and he asks her to leave.

They have a dispute over the money and later, a pimp is called in to collect.

After this experience, Holden is left, sitting in a dazed pile, in only his

shorts, sprawled across the floor of his cheap hotel room. He contemplates

suicide but, he thinks, it would give the gawkers to much pleasure, noone

would even cover him. As he lays on the floor in a dazed stupor, I believe he

is thinking of all the unjustices of the adult world, which would allow a

young girl like Sunny (maybe he is thinking of Phoebe?) to be taken

advantage of in such a way. Also, he curses the Pimp which, he believes

cheated him on the amount of money he had to pay.

The next day, instead of sulking around the city, he decided to ask one

of his old girlfriends on a date. Once he meets her at the theatre he realizes

that she too has become a "phony" and is always complying to the

regulations set by the society at the time. He begins to dislike her and after

the date is finished, I think it would be fair to say that Holden hates the girl

at the end of their date. He does not hate her for what she does, but for what

she and the rest of the people his age, who are struggling to grow up and

leave their childhood behind.

His relationship with his sister Phoebe is hard to describe. One could

spent many hundreds of words going on about how Holdens relationship

with his sister signifies all the things he believes are wrong with

the adult world, but I will not do that. Instead, I will show you

certain examples of the comradery shared by the two. It seems that Holden

has come to his sister before with his troubles, because when he approaches

her with his tale of being given the "what-for" out of Pencey, she simply

burys her head in the pillow and says "oh not, not again Holden". He gives

her the record he purchesed even though it was broken and she still cherishes

it, simply because, it was given by her only brother. When he gives her the

present, he tells her how he broke it while he was drunk and she did not

seem too surprised, perhaps Holden has been drowning his sorrows in liquor

for some time. I believe Holden loves his sister very much, more perhaps

than anything else left in his world. His parents, however, do not seem to

mean much to him, because even they, even his own parents, are "phonies".

At one point he calls a old friend of his, who did not part on very good

terms mind you, and invites him for a drink. He does not call this man to

catch up on old times, or to shoot the breeze, he calls because, well, he has

noone else to call. I think that a certain part of Holden wanted to believe that

when his old friend walked in the door, he would not look a day older than

the day he had last seen him. Holden wants to believe that nothing should

ever change and people can continue their own lives without regard to the

thoughts of anyone else. Even though he goes about it in the wrong way,

perhaps Holden is trying to show the people around him, that being all-

important or having a good job isnt everything to life. Everyone needs a tiny

piece of their childhood left to mull over when things get rough, everyone

needs to retain just a tiny fraction of their childhood innocence.

When you get down to brass tacks, the Catcher in the Rye is to be a

classic affermation of everything that is wrong and twisted in the national

character, a gross physical salute to life in this world. It shows the

shallowness of adult life, and the "phonyness" of allways working towards

something which will only do yourself good, and not everybody else.

Catcher in the Rye shows that not all lives are like this, children, perhaps,

have the happiest lives of all.

What happenes when Holden refuses to give up one part of life

(childhood) for another (adulthood) results in a kind of limbo, not yet

an adult, and not still a child. While in this stage, Holden is still able

to critisize everything adults do as self-serving, but he cannot still

connect with young children the way he once could, in this stage, it is

where Holden is most unhappy, and it is where he will remain unless

he decided to change his ways. This is a fate which anyone could fall

victim to, if you begin to only see the dull and boring things in people,

instead of the things which make life great.