Analysis of A Catcher In the Rye's Holden Caulfield: Enemy of Himself

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Jerome David Salinger’s only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is based on the life events shaping main character, Holden Caulfield, into the troubled teen that is telling the story in 1950. The theme of the story is one of emotional disconnection felt by the alienated teenagers of this time period. The quote, “ I didn’t know anyone there that was splendid and clear thinking and all” (Salinger 4) sets the tone that Holden cannot find a connection with anyone around him and that he is on a lonely endeavor in pursuit of identity, acceptance and legitimacy. The trials and failures that Holden faces on his journey to find himself in total shed light on Holden’s archenemy, himself. In J.D Salinger’s, “The Catcher in the Rye”, protagonist, …show more content…
When the reader looks back at Holden’s history they can make assumptions as to why Holden wants things to stay the way they are. The general assumption would be because Holden is very distant to people who are dear to him. He mentions his younger sister, Phoebe frequently but cannot connect with her in any way due to Holden’s enrollment in a relatively distant school. Holden also recalls his two brothers, Allie and D.B., whom he is exiled from in result of Allie’s tragic fate and D.B.’s migration to California. The death of Holden’s favorite person, Allie, results ultimately in the unstable mental condition that controls Holden. Holden’s fascination with children and their mentalities is driven from Holden’s mourning of Allie’s death. While Holden tries to resist changing, he is identifying himself with Allie. Critic, Hermit Vanderbilt, agrees that, “Obviously despairing at the cosmic injustice of such an early death, Holden falls into a schizophrenic disorder interested in keeping him from growing up and keeping the role of Allie alive.” (Vanderbilt 299). In addition to the laments of personal loss, Holden also desires a stagnancy of time because of his fear of losing his moral purity. This is shown when Holden speaks about how his older brother, D.B., has lost his moral standards in the pursuit of fame. Holden feels D.B. has strayed far from his truly respectable writing when D.B. “sold himself out” to the expectations of Hollywood. Holden refers to D.B. as a
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