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Breaking Down Essay

1463 words - 6 pages

In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is a troubled adolescent that isolates himself from the world and has a difficult time being a part of society, much like the author himself. Holden begins his psychoanalytical experience with the day he was kicked out of his school. “Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pency Prep” (Salinger 2). Holden’s reminiscence of this part of his life brings upon the theme of Sigmund Freud’s idea regarding the unconscious part of the mind. “It [unconscious] contains primitive sexual and aggressive impulses as well as memories of troubling emotional experiences (e.g., traumatizing events)” (Hartford 469). Holden’s foolish decisions illustrate the mentality of a young unstable mind that is unable to understand what it truly wants in life.
Holden’s logical thinking is questionable throughout the novel in several situations. Holden creates a world inside his mind as though he has the future planned out when he says, “Here’s my idea… We’ll stay in these cabin camps and stuff like that till the dough runs out. Then when the dough runs out, I could get a job somewhere and we could live somewhere with a brook and all” (Salinger 132). Holden imagines such a world where he can run away from all the problems, his problems, and live happy without having any worries what so ever. Such mentality could be described and seen as childish thoughts. A theory by Jacques Lacan known as the “mirror stage” states, “For a while the mirrored being and the world that surrounds it seems completely under the child’s control” (Hall 109). Lacan’s theory can be used to describe Holden’s perspective towards the world and what fantasy plans he has in store for himself. Much like Holden’s view of the future, the author, J.D. Salinger, also shares a similar desire about living in a small cabin camp almost as if fulfilling Holden’s deep desire of escaping and turning his back on the world. In an article in The New York Times it states, “Mr. Salinger, who had been living on East 57th street in Manhattan, fled the literary world altogether and moved to a 90-acre compound on a wooded hillside in Cornish” (McGrath). Salinger reflects his personalities and thoughts through Holden as demonstrated not only with deep desires but life experiences and past actions. Salinger creates the protagonist to be very similar to him, almost as if writing an autobiography about his past life and all the obstacles he once faced as an adolescent.
Much like Holden, Salinger had many difficulties in his adolescent years. Salinger also had an unsuccessful educational career. At the age of fifteen, Salinger had flunked out of McBurney School. “In 1934 [he] packed off to Valley Forge Military Academy” (McGrath). Throughout the novel, Holden assumes that his father will send him off to military school. “He’ll send me to that goddam military school” (Salinger 166). This particular example demonstrates how Salinger’s...

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