The Catcher in the Rye3




The Catcher in the Rye



“I swear to God I’m crazy. I admit it.” It is very easy to automatically assume that Holden Caulfield is crazy. It’s even a logical assumption since Caulfield himself admits to being crazy twice throughout the course of the book. However, calling Holden Caulfield crazy is almost the same as calling the majority of the human race crazy also. Holden Caulfield is just an adolescent trying to prevent himself from turning into what he despises the most, a phony. Most of Caulfield’s actions and thoughts are the same as of many people, the difference being that Holden acts upon those thoughts and has them down in writing.

Holden Caulfield is a teenager growing up in New York in the 1950s. He has been expelled from school for poor achievement and “was flunking four subjects and not applying myself and all.”(Salinger, 4) He decides to leave school a few days than what he is supposed to in an attempt to deal with his current situation. “Besides, I sort of needed a little vacation. My nerves were shot. They really were.” Caulfield goes to New York to take a vacation before having to face his parents’ unmistakable wrath. During this time, he experiences a nervous breakdown that was characterized by his sudden unexplained depressions. “What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide.” “I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden.” Before his eventual nervous collapse he experienced impulsive spending and generally odd, bizarre behavior. “All I had was three singles and five quarters and a nickel left – boy, I spent a fortune since I left Pencey. Then what I did, I went down near the lagoon and I sort of skipped the quarters and the nickel across it, where it wasn’t frozen.” “About halfway to the bathroom, I sort of started pretending I had a bullet in my guts.”

During Caulfield’s psychological battle, life continues around him. His condition of being ignored eventually arises the thought the thought of whether society chooses to ignore the emptiness that can be shown in humans. “..but people never notice. People never notice anything.” As Caulfield’s condition deteriorates, he declares the world is full of phonies and that people are out there for their own gain. He is aware that most people are phonies but is not as critical of them towards the end. One aspect of Holden’s personality is his criticism toward the phony things in society.

Holden considers the movies and anything having to do with it phony, including theatre productions. “I don’t like any shows very much, if you want to know the truth. They’re not as bad as movies, but they’re certainly nothing to rave about. In the first place, I hate actors. They never act like people. They just think they do. Some of the good ones do, in a very slight way, but not in a way that’s fun to watch. And if any actor’s good, you can always tell he knows he’s good, and that spoils it…If an actor acts it out, I hardly listen. I keep worrying about whether he’s going to do something phony every minute.” He finds the theater phony because instead of demonstrating reality as it is, the emphasis is placed on polishing into this massacre of made up events. Holden feels anger towards his brother because “he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute.” He considered that D.B. was selling himself to Hollywood, which is why he called D.B. a prostitute. He considers the movies phony and hates them so much that “… I don’t think I could ever do it with somebody that sits in a stupid movie all day long” when Sunny the prostitute was in his room. When he dances with Bernice Crabs/Krebs, he considers her a moron partially because she was on the lookout for actors at the bar because she had seen an actor the previous night. Also, it depressed him that they were planning on waking up early the next day to see the first show at Radio City Music Hall.

Holden’s criticism towards the phony things in society is the most important part of his personality because it shows that for him it is very