Cathcher In The Rye Essay

This essay has a total of 1543 words and 6 pages.

Cathcher In The Rye

Adam McRae
Period 2

It's nothing new, that everybody feels depressed at some time or another in their lives.
However, it becomes a problem when that depression is so much a part a person's life that
she can no longer see the happiness right in front her. (As tragically happens to the
young boy, Holden Caulfield in J.D Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye.) Mr. Antolini
accurately views the cause of Holden's depression as his lack of personal motivation, his
inability to self-reflect and his stubbornness to overlook the obvious which collectively
results in him giving up on life before he ever really has a chance to get it started.

Holden lacks the essential ability to motivate himself, which he needs to survive in the
‘real' world. He continues to be kicked out of every school he attends because he fails
to apply himself, his simple reasoning being "how do you know what you're going to do till
you do it? The answer is, you don't" (213). Everybody else in his life tries to encourage
him to care about school and his grades but it doesn't make any difference. From the start
of the novel Holden's history teacher at Pencey tells him "I'd like to put some sense in
that head of yours, boy. I'm trying to help you. I'm trying to help you, if I can" (14).
But the fact of the matter is he can't help him, Holden has to help himself. The drive to
succeed has to come from within him, "I mean you can't hardly ever do something just
because somebody wants you to" (185). In order for Holden to succeed he has to want it for
himself. The only problem being Holden is unable to will him into doing anything he is not
genuinely interested in, therefore missing out on further knowledge he could acquire that
would truly entice him. Holden gives up on school because he fears if he were to bestow
his efforts upon his undesired subjects he would consequently become one of the
‘phonies' he had spent his entire life hating.

But like Mr. Antolini tells him," You're a student - whether the idea appeals to you or
not. You're in love with knowledge. And I think you'll find, once you get past all that,
you're going to start getting closer and closer - that is, if you want to and if you look
for it and wait for it - to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your

Nevertheless Holden has so much personal pride he refuses lower him to that level. For if
he does, in his eyes, he will be the same as all those other "Phony Ivy League bastards"
(85). As a result of Holden giving up on school, he is unable to proceed with the natural
evolution that must occur for him to move on in society. Mr. Antolini later points out to
him "Learning is a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history.
It's poetry" (189). His goal for Holden being to see school as something he loves and not
something he is being forced to do. Mr. Antolini tried to give Holden a reason to be
motivated and in which case not to give up so easily.

Holden is quite skilled at citing exactly what is wrong with other people. However he
never acknowledges his own faults. He was sure the entire world was out of step with him.
As Alan Stewart explains, "Holden seemed to divide the world into two groups. He was in
one group, along with a few other people such as his little sister, Phoebe, and Jesus;
everyone else was in the other group". Being the reason that he felt, "people were always
ruining things for you" (87). Only, Holden can not understand that everything he hates in
other people was really inside of himself. He is a hypocrite and unable to self-reflect.
As he continues to build up his hatred for the people around him, he fails to notice the
seclusion he is forcing upon himself. As a result of Holden's alienation Mr. Antolini
feels Holden is headed for a terrible fall. "This fall I think you're riding for - it's a
special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear
himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling" (187).

Through the course of Holden's childhood and teenage years he basically alienates his
emotions from whom he is as a person. Holden brings his brother Allie up when he is upset.
He is still very confused about his death, and because of Holden's absence at the funeral
he had no chance to fully say good bye and comes to the conclusion that the only ‘real'
person he actually knew is no longer alive. He is not able to understand that he is
hurting inside and yearning for the comfort the adult world could have given him and
should have given him. As a result of him cutting his emotions off he is unable to
comprehend what is truly bothering him and therefore projects this confusion onto others.

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